(Metagame Archive) PC New York Top 8 Breakdown

By Brian Kibler

Over the past few weeks, the Vs. world has been abuzz with talk about the Golden Age format and what would happen at Pro Circuit New York. Some claimed that nothing could stop the purple tide, and that Sentinels would rule the day. Others placed their faith in Mr. Fantastic and his gadgets to take down the evil robots, while still others threw in their lot with the good Dr. Doom and his ever-changing cast of cohorts. The discovery of Micro-Sentinels, which broke otherwise unwinnable matchups wide open, led many to believe that victory for Bastion and company was all but guaranteed.

By now everyone knows how the story ends, with relative unknown Adam Bernstein taking home the championship with, yes, Curve Sentinels, joined in the Top 8 by five other players who put their money on the robots. On the surface it looks exactly like so many people had predicted, but the weekend wasn’t all about Mark V’s smashing into each other. The two non-Sentinel decks in the Top 8—New School, piloted by Jason Hager, and Xavier’s Dream, run by Michael Barnes—were stories unto themselves, and even amongst the Sentinel lists there was quite a bit of tech to be found. 


Alex Shvartsman

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

Plot Twists
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Reconstruction Program
3 Total Anarchy
4 Overload
4 Nasty Surprise
4 Acrobatic Dodge

Locations
4 Genosha
Hans Joachim Hoh

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

Plot Twists
4 Savage Beatdown
3 Nasty Surprise
3 Acrobatic Dodge
4 Overload
4 Reconstruction Program
4 Micro-Sentinels

Locations
4 Genosha
2 Mojoverse
Adam Bernstein

Characters
4 Boliver Trask
3 Hounds of Ahab
7 Sentinel Mark II
8 Sentinel Mark V
4 Nimrod
4 Bastion
4 Magneto, Master of Magnetism
2 Apocalypse

Plot Twists
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Reconstruction Program
4 Micro-Sentinels
3 Overload
4 Nasty Surprise

Locations
3 Genosha
2 Mojoverse
Ryan Jones

Characters
4 Boliver Trask
1 Hounds of Ahab
7 Sentinel Mark II
8 Sentinel Mark V
4 Nimrod
4 Bastion
3 Magneto, Master of Magnetism
1 Juggernaut

Plot Twists
3 Acrobatic Dodge
3 Finishing Move
3 Flame Trap
3 Nasty Surprise
4 Overload
4 Reconstruction Program
4 Savage Beatdown

Locations
4 Genosha
 

Vidianto Wijaya

Characters
4 Boliver Trask
1 Hounds of Ahab
7 Sentinel Mark II
8 Sentinel Mark V
4 Nimrod
4 Bastion
3 Magneto, Master of Magnetism

Plot Twists
3 Nasty Surprise
4 Overload
4 Reconstruction Program
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Micro-Sentinels
3 Cover Fire
3 Not So Fast

Locations
4 Genosha
Antonino De Rosa

Characters
1 Apocalypse
2 Hounds of Ahab
4 Nimrod
7 Sentinel Mark V
4 Magneto, Master of Magnetism
4 Bastion
4 Boliver Trask
7 Sentinel Mark II

Plot Twists
4 Nasty Surprise
4 Micro-Sentinels
4 Overload
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Reconstruction Program

Locations
3 Mojoverse
4 Genosha
The card of the weekend for Curve Sentinels was definitely Mojoverse, with the on-site dealers selling out of them by the time the tournament began. Half of the Top 8 Sentinel decks used the location, the primary purpose of which was to protect Magneto from Betrayal, but which also had a handy side effect of being able to give your attackers +1 ATK/+1 DEF. In a world of mirror matches, Mojoverse gives your Mark V’s the edge, which can let you save your power-ups and Reconstruction Programs until that crucial Bastion turn. That said, if you’re looking to win the mirror match, Mojoverse isn’t your best option, and the huge buzz surrounding the card probably led to many players cutting Betrayal from their decks, leaving the players without Mojoverse that much better off. Ah, the many layers of metagaming . . .

The next big card was nothing new, but Hounds of Ahab went from being a one-of in most Sentinel decks to filling two, three, or even four slots. The Hounds’ ability to dominate games early on is simply brutal. I saw more than a few Nimrods come into play without repair counters over the weekend courtesy of Ahab’s little pups, with the Nasty Surprise/Overload combo often clearing the way. Boliver Trask followed up by Hounds is also a powerful opener against off-curve strategies like Fantastic Fun or EMS variants, serving to keep their character count in check, as the final match between Adam Bernstein and Jason Hager clearly shows.   

One card is notable in these lists by its omission, and that card is Cover Fire. Once a prominent feature of the Curve Sentinels deck, Cover Fire appeared in only one of the Top 8 decks, with Jones, Shvartzman, and Hoh choosing Acrobatic Dodge instead, while Bernstein and De Rosa eschewed defensive plot twists altogether. The move to Dodge is a reaction both to the threat of Nasty Surprise/Overload and to the reality of the post-Hounds Sentinel world. With stunned characters getting KO’d in the early turns as often as not, Sentinels can no longer reach the critical mass of characters required to make Cover Fire effective. 

Last but certainly not least is the big man himself, Apocalypse. Only two players—Bernstein and De Rosaran any copies of the world-ending monster, and I’m willing to bet that Adam is quite happy he did. His role is quite simple—make sure the game ends here and now. Dr. Light with boost can ruin anyone’s day, and the big man makes sure that doesn’t ever happen unless your opponent can stun him before the combat phase, in which case you certainly weren’t going to win anyway.  

Jason Hager

Characters
4 Boris
4 Alfred Pennyworth
4 Microchip
4 Dagger, Child of Light
1 Lacuna
1 Commissioner Gordon, James Gordon
1 Shimmer
2 Robot Sentry
4 Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius
1 Glorious Godfrey
2 Dr. Light, Arthur Light
1 Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man
1 Psimon
1 Dr. Doom, Lord of Latveria

Plot Twists
4 Wild Ride
4 Bat-Signal
4 Midnight Sons
3 Marvel Team-Up
4 Mystical Paralysis
4 Reign of Terror
2 Press the Attack
2 Fizzle
1 Entangle

Equipment
1 Power Compressor

On Friday morning before the Pro Circuit, I was sitting with some players talking about their predictions for the metagame when Anthony Justice dropped a bomb on all of us. Someone asked him what he was playing, and he said “I can’t tell you, but I will show you one card”. That one card was, of course, Glorious Godfrey. The minds behind Evil Medical School went all out with this beauty, which runs like a well-oiled machine despite its five—yes, five—teams. I made a point to watch as many of their matches as I could while I was judging, and the more I saw, the more I fell in love with this deck. To explain the intricacies of its design and how to play it would take an article unto itself, so I’ll make no attempt to do so here. Suffice it to say that over the course of the weekend I saw Hager and company pull off spectacular wins, with attacking for infinite damage with 8-drop Doom and Press the Attack among the more mundane. While the deck certainly has vulnerabilities, like Apocalypse and Latverian Embassy, both of which will likely see increased play in the wake of Hager’s success, the deck’s incredible versatility and raw power lead me to believe it will make a lasting mark on the Golden Age metagame. 


Michael Barnes

Characters
4 Alfred Pennyworth
12 GCPD Officer
4 Dazzler
4 Longshot
4 Beast
1 Lacuna, Media Darling

Plot Twists
4 Xavier’s Dream
4 Bat-Signal
4 Fizzle
4 Total Anarchy
4 Pleasant Distraction
3 Marvel Team-Up
3 A Death In The Family
1 Flame Trap

Locations
4 Avalon Space Station


Joining Hager in the Top 8 as a Sentinel holdout, Michael Barnes posted the best record in the Constructed portion of the Swiss, finishing 11-1. Nine of those wins came against Sentinels, so it was a shock to many when Barnes fell to Adam Bernstein in the semifinals. Like Hager’s New School deck, and Fantastic Fun and EMS before it, Barnes’s deck attempts to minimize the impact of the advantages Curve Sentinels has in character combat. Of these, Barnes’s deck is the most extreme, as it simply ignores the combat phase altogether. In fact, when this deck is performing, it should rarely have characters in play at all. The deck’s goal is to set up a turn 4 Xavier’s Dream via Beast and then simply not die, a plan that works amazingly well against decks focused on the later turns like Curve Sentinels. Total Anarchy and A Death in the Family keep the board clear so the Dream gets counters every turn. Because of the way endurance checks and the recovery step work, it doesn’t matter how much damage your opponent can do to you once the Dream goes off, a fact that many players became painfully aware of during the tournament.

This deck is quite vulnerable to hate cards like Have a Blast!, so it may not meet with repeat success if the metagame shifts to react to it, but the Dream deck could see some changes as well. The New School deck’s Midnight Sons/Wild Ride engine could very well find a home in future versions of the Dream, with increased search power providing improved consistency to shore up against unfortunate draws like those Barnes had in the semifinals.

In the end, the story of PC New York was that of both the old and the new, the big bully and the underdogs scrapping it out. This time the bully won, but next week’s $10K Philadelphia marks the first major event where the Green Lantern set will be legal, and if the word on the street is to be believed, Hal Jordan and friends promise to shake things up.   

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