(Metagame Archive) Avengers Preview: Melissa Gold ◊ Songbird

By Hans Joachim Höh

Today I have the honor of presenting you with a preview from the new Vs. System set, The Avengers. As you’ll probably skip the introduction anyway to get a glimpse of the new card, I’ll just give it to you right away.

I want to start with a short introduction of the character’s history, but I have to confess that I had to look it up. I started reading comics just recently because I was interested in the backgrounds of all those characters on my Vs. System cards, not the other way around. So I did not know about the Thunderbolts before I saw my preview card, as I can probably still be seen reading Wittgenstein or Nietzsche more often than the newest Marvel comics. Still, I try to find out about the storyline of each set when it comes out.

The Thunderbolts were initially a team of supervillains posing as heroes in order to exploit public goodwill. The team was formed by Baron Zemo, and its other members were the Beetle, Fixer, Moonstone, Goliath, and Screaming Mimi. Every team member took a new identity when the Avengers and the Fantastic Four disappeared to Counter-Earth. Zemo became Citizen V, the Beetle became MACH-1, the Fixer became Techno, Moonstone became Meteorite, Goliath became Atlas, and Screaming Mimi became Songbird.  

By the time that the Thunderbolts were exposed as the Masters of Evil, Mimi and most of her teammates had begun to enjoy their lives as superheroes, and they remained together as a group of outlaw heroes trying to win back public acceptance. As Songbird, she had been allied with the Avengers, and had also been depicted as a member of the Avengers in at least one possible future.

So, did you like the card I showed you? Not really? Then look again. Apart from her really cool hair and wings, Melissa also has some other advantages. Her stats are bigger than those of many 3-drops seeing play in Constructed nowadays, and she also has flight and range, which is rare in a Marvel set. So we’d already have a nice 3-drop here, but this beauty’s recruit cost is only 2! That is pretty awesome because it will lead to the following scenarios more often than not:

If it is your initiative on turn 2 and your opponent’s 2-drop is of a regular size (2 ATK/3 DEF, for example), you can attack for massive breakthrough endurance loss. With another decent 3-drop on your side, your opponent cannot stun both of your drops on turn 3 without stunning all of his or her characters, as well. This means that the opponent cannot generate character advantage that turn, and without a combat modifier on an ordinary 2-drop to take Melissa down, your opponent will even lose board presence on his or her own initiative. Normally, generating board advantage that early is not very important, as the additional 2-drop on your side can usually only attack for an extra 2 points per turn. But Melissa’s 6 ATK can really make a difference in the endurance race. If you have the odd initiative, it gets even better, as you can probably attack on turn 2 anyway, stealing the initiative with your big girl. Then you can attack up and down on turn 3 to generate the aforementioned board advantage for sure. From that point on, Melissa will likely stay in play, because her high ATK value makes it dangerous to attack her, even with a 4-drop.

To make a long story short, playing characters with stats that normally come at a higher recruit cost is always a good idea. But, as we saw on characters like Goldface, Sabretooth, Feral Rage, or Rocket Red, the text box of characters like that tends to be filled with demands or disadvantages instead of cool special abilties. So we always have to decide if we want to pay the (sometimes high) price for those curve-jumping stats.

So what sacrifices do we have to make for having Melissa hang out with us? She reads, “At the start of the build phase, target opponent may turn a face-up resource he controls face down.”

Evaluating a disadvantage that includes your opponent’s deck and decisions is a lot harder than one that depends only on your own deck. You can build your deck in a way that supports Rocket Red, but for Melissa’s drawback, you have to be familiar with the metagame. Which cards will likely be reused by the other player, and how bad will that be for you? As it is highly unlikely that the Sonic Carapace will be around in later turns, we only have to think about the cheap plot twists (and locations) here. As it triggers at the start of the build phase, the resource for the turn will not have been played yet, which reduces the chances of your opponent having a good, reusable plot twist even more. We cannot know yet what tricks will be in the next Marvel Modern Age decks, or what tricks will be in a normal Avengers Sealed Pack, but it is very likely that Melissa’s disadvantage will do nothing in Sealed while her stats will help you dominate the early game.

I came up with the following cards that might get reused in the Golden Age metagame and would therefore, in one way or another, reduce the advantage of your big bird:

Cheap Tutors: Bat-Signal, Wild Ride, and The Ring Has Chosen will be used “for free” to fetch early drops that might have been missed otherwise because the tutor was being saved for later on. The fetched drop might negate the advantage you wanted to gain with your strong 2-drop. For example, New School decks will get a Robot Sentry to stop your Songbird’s attacks right away while still keeping her around for additional free tutors. 

Good Team-Ups: The decks with team-ups that draw a card when flipped will be able to draw an extra card per turn with them. This might not really matter, but sometimes it could be enough to stop your initial onslaught.  

Early combat tricks: Nasty Surprise, Acrobatic Dodge, Flying Kick, or even a Surprise Attack for free can reduce the endurance advantage that you’re trying to gain.

If everything works out as planned and your Melissa is still around on turn 4, the top decks in the format can do some more nasty things like flip USS Argus in response to the trigger, using it and turning it down again to keep on drawing. Micro-Sentinels can be flipped during recovery, turned down with the trigger, and flipped up again during recovery, thereby infecting every character while staying hidden from your Foiled.

So, there definitely are some ways for most Golden Age decks to keep up with your huge 2-drop, and I might even have missed some. But as we do not yet know about the other members of the Thunderbolts or the rest of the Avengers set, it might be unfair to dismiss her already. A card’s power always depends on the environment in which it is used, but that is especially true for Melissa Gold. Expect it to be a force in Marvel Modern Age and Sealed Pack, at least, even if it proves to be not quite powerful enough for Golden Age play.

Have fun with this and other fine Avengers cards at your local Sneak Peek tournaments!

HaJo Today I have the honor of presenting you with a preview from the new Vs. System set, The Avengers. As you’ll probably skip the introduction anyway to get a glimpse of the new card, I’ll just give it to you right away.

 

 

 

 

I want to start with a short introduction of the character’s history, but I have to confess that I had to look it up. I started reading comics just recently because I was interested in the backgrounds of all those characters on my Vs. System cards, not the other way around. So I did not know about the Thunderbolts before I saw my preview card, as I can probably still be seen reading Wittgenstein or Nietzsche more often than the newest Marvel comics. Still, I try to find out about the storyline of each set when it comes out.

 

The Thunderbolts were initially a team of supervillains posing as heroes in order to exploit public goodwill. The team was formed by Baron Zemo, and its other members were the Beetle, Fixer, Moonstone, Goliath, and Screaming Mimi. Every team member took a new identity when the Avengers and the Fantastic Four disappeared to Counter-Earth. Zemo became Citizen V, the Beetle became MACH-1, the Fixer became Techno, Moonstone became Meteorite, Goliath became Atlas, and Screaming Mimi became Songbird.
 

By the time that the Thunderbolts were exposed as the Masters of Evil, Mimi and most of her teammates had begun to enjoy their lives as superheroes, and they remained together as a group of outlaw heroes trying to win back public acceptance. As Songbird, she had been allied with the Avengers, and had also been depicted as a member of the Avengers in at least one possible future.

 

So, did you like the card I showed you? Not really? Then look again. Apart from her really cool hair and wings, Melissa also has some other advantages. Her stats are bigger than those of many 3-drops seeing play in Constructed nowadays, and she also has flight and range, which is rare in a Marvel set. So we’d already have a nice 3-drop here, but this beauty’s recruit cost is only 2! That is pretty awesome because it will lead to the following scenarios more often than not:

 

If it is your initiative on turn 2 and your opponent’s 2-drop is of a regular size (2 ATK/3 DEF, for example), you can attack for massive breakthrough endurance loss. With another decent 3-drop on your side, your opponent cannot stun both of your drops on turn 3 without stunning all of his or her characters, as well. This means that the opponent cannot generate character advantage that turn, and without a combat modifier on an ordinary 2-drop to take Melissa down, your opponent will even lose board presence on his or her own initiative. Normally, generating board advantage that early is not very important, as the additional 2-drop on your side can usually only attack for an extra 2 points per turn. But Melissa’s 6 ATK can really make a difference in the endurance race. If you have the odd initiative, it gets even better, as you can probably attack on turn 2 anyway, stealing the initiative with your big girl. Then you can attack up and down on turn 3 to generate the aforementioned board advantage for sure. From that point on, Melissa will likely stay in play, because her high ATK value makes it dangerous to attack her, even with a 4-drop.

 

To make a long story short, playing characters with stats that normally come at a higher recruit cost is always a good idea. But, as we saw on characters like Goldface, Sabretooth, Feral Rage, or Rocket Red, the text box of characters like that tends to be filled with demands or disadvantages instead of cool special abilties. So we always have to decide if we want to pay the (sometimes high) price for those curve-jumping stats.

 

So what sacrifices do we have to make for having Melissa hang out with us? She reads, “At the start of the build phase, target opponent may turn a face-up resource he controls face down.”

 

Evaluating a disadvantage that includes your opponent’s deck and decisions is a lot harder than one that depends only on your own deck. You can build your deck in a way that supports Rocket Red, but for Melissa’s drawback, you have to be familiar with the metagame. Which cards will likely be reused by the other player, and how bad will that be for you? As it is highly unlikely that the Sonic Carapace will be around in later turns, we only have to think about the cheap plot twists (and locations) here. As it triggers at the start of the build phase, the resource for the turn will not have been played yet, which reduces the chances of your opponent having a good, reusable plot twist even more. We cannot know yet what tricks will be in the next Marvel Modern Age decks, or what tricks will be in a normal Avengers Sealed Pack, but it is very likely that Melissa’s disadvantage will do nothing in Sealed while her stats will help you dominate the early game.

 

I came up with the following cards that might get reused in the Golden Age metagame and would therefore, in one way or another, reduce the advantage of your big bird:

 

Cheap Tutors: Bat-Signal, Wild Ride, and The Ring Has Chosen will be used “for free” to fetch early drops that might have been missed otherwise because the tutor was being saved for later on. The fetched drop might negate the advantage you wanted to gain with your strong 2-drop. For example, New School decks will get a Robot Sentry to stop your Songbird’s attacks right away while still keeping her around for additional free tutors. 

 

Good Team-Ups: The decks with team-ups that draw a card when flipped will be able to draw an extra card per turn with them. This might not really matter, but sometimes it could be enough to stop your initial onslaught.

 

Early combat tricks: Nasty Surprise, Acrobatic Dodge, Flying Kick, or even a Surprise Attack for free can reduce the endurance advantage that you’re trying to gain.

 

If everything works out as planned and your Melissa is still around on turn 4, the top decks in the format can do some more nasty things like flip USS Argus in response to the trigger, using it and turning it down again to keep on drawing. Micro-Sentinels can be flipped during recovery, turned down with the trigger, and flipped up again during recovery, thereby infecting every character while staying hidden from your Foiled.

 

So, there definitely are some ways for most Golden Age decks to keep up with your huge 2-drop, and I might even have missed some. But as we do not yet know about the other members of the Thunderbolts or the rest of the Avengers set, it might be unfair to dismiss her already. A card’s power always depends on the environment in which it is used, but that is especially true for Melissa Gold. Expect it to be a force in Marvel Modern Age and Sealed Pack, at least, even if it proves to be not quite powerful enough for Golden Age play.

 

Have fun with this and other fine Avengers cards at your local Sneak Peek tournaments!

 

HaJo
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