(Metagame Archive) Justice League of America Preview: IQ/Criminal Mastermind

By Andrew Yip

Only one person gets the enviable position of following TBS’s preview article during each new release. Fortunately, the cards I’m previewing provide more than enough ammo to make TBS’s preview pale in comparison. Today’s preview cards belong to none other than the Lex Luthor–led Injustice Gang. The Injustice Gang is all about providing you and your opponents with good effects, much like Thunderbolts characters such as Dallas Riordan ◊ Vantage. But the similarities end there. Unlike the Thunderbolts, the Injustice Gang’s other half punishes opponents for having the very same bonuses that you just gave them. Criminal Mastermind and IQ are excellent examples of this style of play.

Criminal Mastermind is a mutually beneficial effect for an initial exhaust cost. If Green Lantern started the trend of card drawing effects to promote off-curve strategies, Criminal Mastermind is the mutated next generation. Not only will an off-curve strategy naturally make good use of additional characters in hand, but it will also have the best chance of hitting the early drop to exhaust for Mastermind. Any discard-heavy deck can also be sated with Mastermind in play. Criminal Mastermind is more a card for a strategy that requires raw card quantity than it is for a combo deck, as pure search effects tend to enable combos more consistently. Though nothing’s stopping you from playing both, giving your opponent additional cards is particularly dangerous for a combo deck. Regardless of deck type, providing each player with an extra card every turn is sure to lead to an overly explosive game.

As a designer, one of the constant battles with card design is providing novel cards that address classic problems with the game engine. In Vs. System, that means promoting consistency and options, and card drawing and search effects are the traditional answers for that. Criminal Mastermind takes that philosophy and wraps it neatly into a team’s theme. With the apparent flood of cards in a game involving the Injustice Gang, one might ask where the “Injustice” part comes in. An unprepared opponent may not have a deck built to make use of the excess characters in hand, but in the traditional Vs. way, the most direct path tends to be the best . . .

  

Generally as productive as Pyro if played on turn 2, IQ is another card that you want to play as early as possible. In concert with Mastermind, he does 3 endurance loss each turn past the first one that he’s in play (and he does more in an off-curve deck where he is recovered turn after turn). That’s a reasonable clock that gets sped up with additional copies of Criminal Mastermind or card draw effects.

But the Injustice doesn’t end there; while some decks may not be able to use characters in hand profitably, other more popular decks can empty their hands on a whim. The final bit of injustice that the Injustice Gang serves spells doom for many popular play strategies by restricting how often and how easily your opponent can play cards in hand.

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