(Metagame Archive) The Light of Play: Daily Bugle

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

Sometimes I wish I was Spider-Man. Then I realize I’m actually just really fond of hammocks, and web-shooters probably have more noble uses than filling my house with impromptu (but comfy) seating.

Spider-Man has a lot going for him, from incredible dexterity and superhuman strength to having one of the most popular girlfriends in comic book history. He’s witty, intelligent, limber, looks good in spandex, possesses topnotch camera skills (which I envy, as I’m personally horrible behind a lens), and has died a lot less than some of his contemporaries. It’s a nice little mishmosh that creates an oft-compelling character beloved by millions.

The Spider-Friends team in Vs. also possesses a smorgasbord of unique and somewhat oddly-blended effects and abilities. It’s widely acknowledged that evasion, targeting disruption, team-attack tricks, and the ability to increase threshold costs of the opponent’s plot twists are the hallmarks of the team—a good spread of rather unique effects. But there’s one card available to them that I don’t think gets enough credit: Daily Bugle.      

As a quick refresher course, Daily Bugle is a threshold 2 location that asks you to select a character name when it’s flipped. Then, whenever a character with that name on the opponent’s side of the field is stunned by one or more Spider-Friends characters you control, you get to flip one of your resources face down.

Let’s look at the basics. First up, you can flip the location at any time, even in response to an attack (yours or your opponent’s). That means you potentially can attack with a combat modifier like Savage Beatdown to take down a far larger character or dish out some breakthrough, and then immediately flip it back down again. I hear Savage Beatdown is pretty good, and I’d imagine smacking a 4-drop with your 2-drop for free is also rather advantageous . . . just a little. You can also use Daily Bugle in a double-stun or stun-back situation as a defender, meaning you can use United We Stand or Nasty Surprise and reuse it two turns later when you’re back on defense. That’s all simple stuff, but cool.

The other basic point that’s important to recognize is that the Bugle can turn itself face down. So, if you’ve managed to get one reuse out of it but feel that your opponent is going to KO the character you sicced J. Jonah Jameson on, you can flip the Bugle down on your second stunning of that character. Assuming the character you stunned was a turn-drop or an important part of the opponent’s strategy, it’s actually surprisingly easy to get multiple print runs out of the Bugle before the day is out.

This brings us to our first more complicated point: how Daily Bugle can act as an impetus for selective KO’s. See, the difficult thing about using the Bugle is that it’s often dependent on your opponent’s actions. Sure, you’ll get one use of its effect pretty easily, but once the named character is stunned, the opponent can always KO it. You can mitigate the chance of this happening by selecting the player’s turn-drop, but that’s not always an option. While Curve Sentinels likes keeping its highest drop on the field, GLEE and Teen Titans can easily play off-curve on many of their ideal turns. That means that two thirds of the Tier 1 Golden Age environment can dodge this card strictly by virtue of a diversified strategy, and that’s bad news.

Luckily, you can always fight this simply by being a malicious jerk. Just like ol’ Jonah, you can aggravate your opponents to no end by putting their most important characters in your banner headline. No turn-drop to ride for two turns against GLEE? Go ahead and make Dr. Light, Master of Holograms a little more famous and watch the opponent start to squirm. Or, how about letting the entire city of New York know that Kyle Rayner, Last Green Lantern is in town? Now you can get Kyle’s family killed by relentlessly psychotic government agents and net yourself some reusable plot twists to boot. Sweet! The Titans are a little bit more dynamic, but you’ll probably never go wrong with a front page that features Terra or Tim Drake ◊ Robin, Young Detective.

Once you’ve placed your unwilling victim into the limelight, your opponent can either relinquish the use of that character and its important effect for the rest of the game, or just admit that you’re going to be getting a large number of free plot twists. That’s a lose/lose situation that feels pretty bad when you’re on the receiving end of it.

And of course, the Bugle is massive army hate, for lack of a better term. Because army characters have the same name, you can get reuse after reuse of virtually anything you want when paired off against a deck that limits itself to just a couple of different army characters. Manhunters beware, but you can also put a crimp in the respective styles of Force, the Kang Council, and even Sentinel Mark V. The latter is particularly rough; Mark V is the turn 4 drop for any Curve Sentinels deck, and no CS player will ever KO it on turn 4 out of Bugle-inflicted fear. If they can’t drop Nimrod on turn 5, then you’ll be getting a third turn of use out of your Mark V–branded Daily Bugle, and that’s basically three cards’ worth of advantage. Ouch.

So, what does it work well with? Basically anything, actually. My favorite plot twists for reuse are generally combat modifiers, character search cards, or negation, but Bugle can also work wonders for themed decks that are focused on certain core mechanics like equips (Two-for-one deals on equipment through Tech Upgrade? JJJ’s buyin’!) or KO effects. To get all Reading Rainbow for a minute, if you can dream it, you can do it. The coolest thing about Daily Bugle is its versatility and its ability to let you get use after use out of not just Savage Beatdown, but also out of the one-of tech cards you’re packing.

There are all sorts of crazy decks in which you can use it. While straight Spider-Friends is pretty underrated in the current environment, there are a lot of cool team-up decks that can abuse some serious press coverage strictly because of Daily Bugle (though its arguably favorable matchup against Teen Titans and the use of Firestar to tech GLEE also help). Spider-Friends/Gotham Knights can repeatedly use GK negation tricks like Fizzle and Detective Work. Spider-Friends/Brotherhood decks packing Longshot can substitute their lack of space for plot twists with the Bugle; and Spider-Friends/League of Assassins can utilize multiple copies of Bugle on turn 8, thanks to Ra’s Al Ghul, The Demon’s Head, to dish out one massive beating after another. Fun stuff.

I love it when an evolving metagame brings old cards back into use, and though it’s certainly janktastic, I really feel that Daily Bugle may have a shot in the current Tier 1 field. Spider-Friends has always seemed to be teetering on the edge of tournament viability, but with GLEE, Teen Titans, and Curve Sentinels now dominating in the manner that they are, it might finally be time for Spidey and Co. to step up and take what’s rightfully theirs.

With a little bit of help from J. Jonah Jameson, of course.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer


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