(Metagame Archive) The Latest Report from the Wandering Gamer

By Dean Sohnle

I was in Olomouc (in the Czech Republic) when the Avengers list was released, and Sneak Peek tournaments were happening everywhere . . . well, except the Czech Republic. Unable to play, I had to console myself with studying the card list and coming up with fun new deck ideas. I’m going to relate one to you that I came up with there and worked on a bit in Krakow (pronounced Cra-Kov) and Berlin (all very beautiful cities with amazing architecture and a lot of churches) before finalizing it enough to talk about it while here in London. I wanted to try to build the deck earlier when I saw Green Lantern, but it just didn’t have enough dedicated cards to do it until now. In fact, I have a whole dedicated team now—sweet, sweet Squadron Supreme.

What kind of deck would I make with Squadron Supreme, you may ask? A discard deck, of course. The only change from my original plan is that instead of emptying just your opponent’s hand, we’ll be fair and empty both players’ hands. It’s the polite thing to do. (What can I say? I’m Canadian, we’re polite.)

I’ve talked before about the strength of card draw. Well, here we’re using the exact opposite—the ability to limit options via discard. Normally, doing this to yourself would be detrimental. But Squadron Supreme gives you enough options, between discard pile manipulation, reservists, and huge bonuses for having an empty hand, that this is not as much of an issue. In fact, it puts you at a huge advantage if both you and your opponent are playing with the same empty hand. Not only should your recruits be consistently on curve, but also, most opponents’ recruits should be consistently not, as he or she will only get to play what’s drawn or searched for with a drawn search card.

I’ll give you the decklist I’ve come up with so far and talk about some general play strategies with it. Then I’d like to tell you about some things I’ve considered for the deck. Here’s the list:

Characters

4 Thermite

2 Quagmire

4 Harlequin

2 Shape

4 Inertia

1 Lady Lark

4 Blue Eagle

2 Amphibian

4 Albert Gaines ◊ Nuke

3 Skymax

1 Dr. Spectrum

1 Arcanna

Plot Twists

4 Eldritch Power

4 Answer the Call

4 Panacea Potion

3 Hibernaculum

2 Behavior Modification Device

1 Other-Earth

1 AIDA

4 Airskimmer

Locations

3 Rocket Central

1 Squadron City

1 Avalon Space Station

So, your first goal is to empty your hand by turn 4 with Blue Eagle in play, Answer the Call or Albert Gaines ◊ Nuke in your resource row, and Skymax in your discard pile. In the process of doing this, you’ll attempt to empty your opponent’s hand with Thermite and a little hidden girl called Harlequin. This is made much easier if you can team them up (as then you can pump Harlequin to cause that breakthrough), but the Team-Up is in there for a different reason—it allows you to cycle through your deck a bit more quickly and empty your hand of characters that you may not otherwise be able to get rid of.

 

You’ll note that almost all of the non-character cards, with the exception of the few locations and Panacea Potion, can be played at almost any time. They are all pumps that last the entire turn, and this allows you to save them for when you need them or when you need to empty your hand.

The most important part of playing this deck is selecting the right resources. First you put down the locations, then the higher cost reservist characters, then AIDA or Panacea Potion or Answer the Call, and then whatever else you need to empty your hand (save plot twists for later if you can, but put down unneeded characters as necessary). As for the initiative, you generally want evens for the Thermite/Harlequin attack, the Blue Eagle attack/KO, and the Skymax unstunnable attack. It’s not a huge deal if you have odds, though, because you’ll still get to do the same attacks on the following turns (you simply risk losing more characters).

This deck is strongest against curve decks but can handle swarm decks simply by reducing the opponent’s hand size until it’s too difficult to swarm. That’s not the best strategy, as it kind of depends on drawing Harlequin and Thermite, but it is an option.

Now, I know some of you are wondering about the “one-of” cards. There are quite a few of them, and most people think one-of cards are rather useless because you can’t draw them consistently. I’m of the opposite opinion; they give your opponent something to worry about and play around without taking up too much space in the deck. Also, they are almost always cards that you want only one of, and drawing more than one will simply jam your hand. Do I need to say how bad that is in this deck? Some of the one-of cards are your only way to beat certain decks, such as Other-Earth versus Fantastic Fun, AIDA versus a lot of control decks, and so on. So, if you expect to see a lot of a particular deck, upping the number of your trump one-of is a good idea, but you really won’t want to see it against other decks.

The Airskimmer is a discardable pump that you can use along with Other-Earth, and it also smooths out your early curve rather well. You’d be quite happy to play Shape with an Airskimmer on turn 3 if you had to.

You might also note how heavy I am on low drops and how light I am on high drops. This is because your search cards will only work on your high drops. Also, they’re usually saved for the high drops because you’ll generally have control of the game before you need your high drops. Also, your 6-drop doesn’t have to be in your hand, just in your KO’d pile.

So, that’s the basics of the deck, but for me at least, part of the fun of Vs. System is tinkering with your decks and coming up with strange new combos. Here’s a few more options for you:

Supply Line – An amazing card, but you can’t play it at the start of the turn, so you can’t play your search cards. But I still think it has potential.

Whizzer – Also amazing, especially with all your pumps lasting the entire turn. But he’s not a reservist and you shouldn’t have a hand by turn 4, which makes him rather difficult to play. If I had more Avalons in the deck, I’d be more tempted to play him.

Redstone – Just not as big as Nuke, unless you can’t empty your hand.

Peace in Our Time – A great discard card that’s useless later in the game and much harder to get rid of. It mostly saves you a bit of endurance in the early turns by discouraging your opponent from causing breakthrough. It also makes your opponent discard a card or two around turn 4 or 5.

Moonglow – It’s not as easy to discard cards with as Inertia is, but it allows you to get that Team-Up for further discard on turn 4. It has potential, but I just couldn’t fit it in.

Unfortunately, as the deck evolved, a lot of the discard elements had to be reduced. I originally ran four copies of Peace in Our Time, which definitely made it more likely for your opponent to have no hand, but it also meant that I drew many more useless cards late in the game and had too much to put in the resource row in the early game.

If you’re feeling really inventive, there are two old teams with a discard theme: X-Men and the ever-maligned Arkham Inmates. Personally, I find the idea of making a viable deck using Arkham to be really tempting, just to show that it can be done. Arkham has a strong early discard theme with The Riddler, Maxie Zeus, and one of the most amazing cards ever, Kidnapping. As well as being a card denial effect by making the next draw useless, Kidnapping is also a KO and card drawing effect. Now, you might think that drawing cards with this deck is a bad thing, but it isn’t—you can almost always get rid of them reasonably easily or simply use the effect when you don’t care about having cards in hand anymore.

It’s a little more difficult to build this deck with X-Men, though they do have Psylocke and Professor Xavier’s Mansion. They also have what is likely the best discard effect in the game, Professor X, Charles Xavier. If you play him when you have the initiative and have emptied your opponent’s hand on previous turns, your opponent will usually have to choose between playing a character and playing a resource.

I hope I’m putting some ideas into your head. Have fun.

From Glasgow, this is Dean Sohnle, signing off.

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