(Metagame Archive) Deck Clinic: Coalition of Heroes

Jason Hager

Hello again, “True Believers,” and welcome to the second installment of “Jason Hager Makes a Normal Deck Weirder.” But this week, I’ve toned it down a little bit—we are going to look at a solid strategy that just hasn’t seen much tournament success: Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man. Let’s get right to it.

Coalition of Heroes

by Bloodshot

Characters
4 Dagger, Child of Light

4 Scarlet Spider ◊ Spider-Man

4 Ricochet
4 Spider-Man, Peter Parker

4 Daredevil, Matt Murdock

3 Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly

1 Iceman, Cool Customer

1 Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man

4 Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man

2 Spider-Man, Cosmic Spider-Man

Plot Twists
4 Spider Senses
4 Wild Ride
4 No Man Escapes the Manhunters
3 Nice Try!
3 Swan Dive
3 Midnight Sons
3 Savage Beatdown
2 Costume Change


Locations
3 Avalon Space Station

We can all agree that the 7-drop Spider-Man is truly “Amazing.” He has been my favorite non–Dr. Doom, Diabolic Genius card since he came out in the Spider-Man starters. I think I own around forty of them. I have four copies of him on me at all times (in my backpack for some reason), and I bought thirty issues of the comic book that has his alternate art in it. There are only a handful of characters who tie up the game in a cloud of exhaustion. This is an especially rare ability on an opponent’s initiative. Vs. System games unfold around the basic driving concept that players take turns attacking. This is why Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Shimmer are fair. However, the 7-drop Spider-Man crushes this basic game mechanic. Yeah, I know, it’s obvious. But when you really look at what competition the 7-drop Spider-Man has, there isn’t much. He has all these things going for him:

  • He is on a reasonably exciting team (unlike Glorious Godfrey).
  • He will come down on a turn that typically occurs in tournament play (unlike Imperiex).
  • He is built into a deck that can utilize him during early turns, if necessary, by spreading out power-ups (comparable to the Bastion effect). The Bastion effect is one in which you get to dabble a little in each combat interaction. Let’s say your opponent plays as efficiently as he or she can, spreading the damage evenly and not wasting ATK points. Bastion is able to cause every single attack during that turn to require a combat pump. Decks only draw so many offensive tricks, and the ability to spread the love is the reason that you see Bastion attacked first by good players. This also leads to an environment of “safe” attacks, in which your opponent sacrifices efficiency in exchange for sure things, and it also lends itself to opponents having to play many more attack pumps than would normally be necessary. The Spider-Man power-ups on turn 4, 6, and 7 are comparable here, especially when you equate Spider Senses to Reconstruction Program. This situation also occurs in Kang decks, whether or not they have Lost City active.
  • He’s a decently-sized 7-drop—14ATK/16DEF is respectable.
  • Playing four of this 7-drop has an inherent benefit. When multiples are drawn, they can be used as inexpensive copies of Mystical Paralysis. This allows you to have a better 7-drop and to hit your 7-drop more often. You are inherently less tempted to play fewer than four copies of the card. I love this effect.
  • I’ve seen over a hundred games in which this guy has hit the board and the opponent has never again successfully declared an attack. When you reread that last sentence, it’s pretty obvious that this guy is Amazing.
  • He’s a fan favorite, so he will get more support in the future. Learning how to play with him and build with him now instead of later is to your benefit.

   

Okay, so I didn’t have to sell you on how good that 7-drop is. Let’s move on and look at other people who agree with us to the point that they had $10K Top 8 showings with this exciting 7-drop.

 

Steven Rosario

$10K Orlando Top 8

Characters

4 Scarlet Spider ◊ Spider-Man, Successor

2 Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

4 Ricochet

2 Julia Carpenter ◊ Spider-Woman

4 Spider-Man, Peter Parker

1 Spider-Man, Alien Symbiote

4 White Tiger

3 Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly

1 Ezekiel

4 Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man

2 Spider-Man, Cosmic Spider-Man

2 Nova

Locations

3 Avalon Space Station

Plot Twists

3 Null Time Zone

3 Unmasked

3 Flying Kick

4 No Man Escapes the Manhunters

4 Spider-Tracer

3 Reconstruction Program

4 Costume Change

Not only is this recent, but it’s also comparable to the list we are looking at. Steven went 8-2 in a very diverse field, only to lose to Titans (a very difficult matchup) in the Top 8. There are a lot of differences between his list and the one we are going to clinic today, but the theme is the same. We are working with the controllish Iceman at 6, while Steven was using the very aggressive Nova. His deck is also mono–Spider-Friends, but we are really after a Team-Up version. Speaking of which, here is Jason Scudder’s brainchild.

 

Jason Scudder

Wizard World Chicago $10K Finalist

Characters
4 Alfred Pennyworth
3 Tim Drake ◊ Robin, The Boy Wonder
3 Spoiler, Robin
3 Barbara Gordon ◊ Oracle, Bird of Prey
4 Cassandra Cain ◊ Batgirl, Martial Artist
2 Will ’O The Wisp
1 Batman, Caped Crusader
2 Daredevil, The Man Without Fear
1 Lady Shiva, Sandra Woosan
1 Dick Grayson ◊ Nightwing, Defender of Bludhaven
1 Iceman, Cool Customer
1 Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly
4 Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man
1 Azrael, Knightfall
1 Spider-Man, Cosmic Spider-Man
2 Apocalypse

Plot Twists
4 Bat-Signal
3 Nasty Surprise
3 Detective Work
4 Fizzle
1 Have a Blast!
1 Flame Trap
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Millennium

While Jason doesn’t have our taste for Midnight Sons, he is sporting the Cool Customer, like our list. Jason does have flexibility that our list does not, in the form of that resourceful butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred adds a toolbox element to the deck, but this version is really based on Barbara Gordon ◊ Oracle, Bird of Prey. Her purpose is to net you card advantage in such quantity that when turn 7 finally comes, there is no way your opponent will attack ever again. Scudder also plays a Daredevil at 5, but a different one than ours (Daredevil, The Man without Fear). Now that we have access to the Avengers set, I think we can all agree that White Tiger is probably a better choice than both of those blind lawyers.

There is one similarity between these two successful Spider-Man decks: the ability to prevent plot twists from wrecking you on key turns (likely turn 5 or 6). Scudder uses Fizzle, and Rosario uses Null Time Zone, but the idea is the same: stop the shenanigans and go into turn 7 with enough endurance to feel comfortable.

Okay, now on to what we are going to do. We have Vs. System’s most powerful Team-Up, Midnight Sons. With great Team-Up power comes great responsibility. We can use any affiliated character in the entire game here, a fact that shouldn’t be overlooked. And while we sample the buffet of forbidden pleasures, we also need to make sure we can actually flip the Midnight Sons. Here are the problems I see with the deck that I’d like to fix:

  1. Play Dagger or bust. If you don’t recruit this light child, you are in major trouble. With the current list configuration, the only Marvel Knight without loyalty in the deck is Dagger. But don’t we have Wild Ride to fetch her? Personally, I’d rather be using my Wild Rides to stay on curve and avoid having to under-drop on turn 3, 4, or 5 just to get a Marvel Knights character down. This also means that we need a Marvel Knight at most drops so that a naked Wild Ride can actually accomplish this.
  2. End the game already. Have you ever seen a Cosmic Spider-Man attack initiative fail against Bastion/Magneto? I have. Also, time is precious here, and you can’t exhaust characters with Amazing forever. You’re likely to be in the hole (endurance-wise) by the time turn 7 comes around, and the clock will weigh heavily on your back.

    (On a major strategic side note to those tournament players out there, you need to be ready for rounds to begin. It behooves you to sit down before your opponent. You should always try to sit on the side of the table that gives you an easy view of the round clock, because it helps you know when to relax or speed up. Manage your time effectively. You either need to sit down before your opponent or check how much time is left when your opponent has priority.)

    If the game goes to turn 8, you need to do enough damage on that critical turn to catch up with the difference in endurance totals. Will Cosmic Spider-Man always accomplish this? It’s a strange problem, but it has a “strange” answer.

  3. We need plot twist denial. There are a few cards that are just too good against our strategy. Press the Attack and Teen Titans Go! need to be called the most often, but there will be some more interesting situations where Savage Beatdown and No Man Escapes the Manhunters should be called. (Yep, you heard me right . . . No Man).
  4. We need to figure out exactly what we are doing with our own plot twists. Are we lovers or fighters? Aggressive or defensive twists? The original list has only aggressive twists, while the deck we are playing just wants to survive until turn 7. Will those supposed attacks up the chain be enough to get us there?
  5. Let’s at least consider the Pandora’s Box that Midnight Sons opens.

 

Here is the raw list that I came up with:

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

by Jason Hager

73 Card Monstrosity


Characters (41)

4 Dagger, Child of Light

3 Micro-Chip

2 Scarlet Spider ◊ Spider-Man, Successor

4 Ricochet

1 Cardiac

1 Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

1 Brother Voodoo
4 Spider-Man, Peter Parker

1 Cloak, Child of Darkness

4 White Tiger

1 Spider-Man, Alien Symbiote

1 Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff

4 Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly

1 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire

1 Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man

4 Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man

1 Ezekiel

1 Dr. Strange, Stephen Strange

1 Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch

1 Spider-Man, Cosmic Spider-Man

Plot Twists (28)
4 Spider Senses
4 Wild Ride
4 Null Time Zone
2 Nice Try!
2 Spider-Tracer
4 Midnight Sons
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Costume Change


Locations (4)

4 Avalon Space Station

This deck is eerily close to one we tested in our shop a couple of months ago. Heath Baker, friend, faithful playtester, Pro Circuit regular, and resident socialite, is the one who built something very similar. My experience playing against Heath gave me some insight on how this archetype works.

We have shifted the strategy to include some of Rosario’s and some of Scudder’s. Jason Scudder ran Alfred, and Micro-Chip is the closest thing we’ve got. He adds some flexibility to our draws and lets everything fall into place. Rosario played a nearly full Spider-Man package (drops 3–8, excluding 6). We have the luxury of being able to make it the full package, increasing the value of Costume Change significantly.

One major shift in focus is the win condition. No longer do you need to make attacks that may or may not succeed (Kang City anyone?). Dr. Strange gives you the answer you need to make up ground. You get to exhaust what you can, take your lumps, and swing for 40 or so to the opponent’s face. Halfway through testing, we realized this wouldn’t entirely work, because so many decks now play No Man Escapes the Manhunters. When you boost Strange on the opponent’s initiative, you are risking having your own guys moved out and successfully attacked (supposing you can’t web them up with 7-drop Spidey). On your initiative, you are risking having your opponent move out his or her own guys, effectively creating a wall of Magneto, Master of Magnetism that you can’t get through without a ridiculous team-attack (30+ ATK required?) because of Bastion.

Here is the deck breakdown:

1-Drops

Your 1-drops are Dagger, Child of Light and Micro-Chip. While playing four Daggers makes total sense here, because we have lots of things to team-up if we get the chance, the Chips are what I’d like to talk about. We have three targets here—Spider-Tracer, Null Time Zone (or the NuTZ, as it’s now being called), and of course, Wild Ride. In the games where you naturally draw Chip on an early turn along with a copy of Wild Ride, you have effectively drawn two Wild Rides. You are sacrificing either your first or second turn (the turns during which you are most likely to recruit him) to ensure that you hit an additional drop on curve. His presence also most likely allows you to have the required Marvel Knights character in play to flip Midnight Sons on an early turn, allowing you to curve out with Spider-Friends at your convenience.

While some people may not like playing three to four copies of Micro-Chip in a deck like this, you would be nuts not to include at least one. Not including one copy (like the original decklist) denies you the opportunity to play a turn 1 Ride for Chip and start the Midnight Sons engine without using up your precious Wild Ride. Consider the alternative: You have an opening hand of Midnight Sons, Wild Ride, Avalon Space Station, and the 7-drop Spider-Man, but no Micro-Chip in your deck. Are you going to Wild Ride on turn 1 for Dagger? Use her on turn 2 to start teaming up? This draw in the original decklist forces you to Wild Ride for Dagger. Who else are you going to Ride for? Daredevil? The man with loyalty? Now that you’ve used Wild Ride to fetch Dagger, what is Wild Ride really netting you here? You’ve just used your flexible search card to enable the rest of your deck, instead of using it to curve out nicely. A single copy of Linus Lieberman will solve this frequent problem. When you aren’t sure what you should Ride for in the early game (turns 1 to 3) because your hand hasn’t developed over the course of many draw steps, don’t worry—Micro-Chip will let you “go into the tank” a turn or two longer as you contemplate your most effective search options. Plus, there are situations in which you should under-drop to get an additional use out of your Spider-Tracer or Null Time Zone.

2-Drops

Your 2-drop is really only there to enable Costume Change and because he is naturally larger than Hounds of Ahab. If you are heavy on search cards but not endurance, you can always Wild Ride for one copy and then Costume Change it away, saving 4 endurance. This isn’t advised, as the real reason I included it in the deck is to have a fifth and sixth Scarlet Spider to draw. I don’t plan on winning early combat fights, and the pure aggressive powerhouse that is Scarlet Spider, Successor isn’t going to help me out in that endeavor. His ability is crappy; the only reason he’s in the deck is because of his name. That being said, these two teams don’t really offer any better option for this drop. Shang Chi? Dusk? The interaction with Costume Change is what I’m going with.

3-Drops

Ricochet can’t be Terra’d. That’s enough for me—next? Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man isn’t fully represented, because your desired 4-drop is also Spider-Man, and you may not have your copy of Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly yet. Brother Voodoo is next on the chopping block. He functions as the on-curve Marvel Knights character that will enable Midnight Sons without being too awful.

The options we have are Daredevil, Protector of Hell’s Kitchen; Elektra, Elektra Natchios; and Stick. Brother Voodoo at least gives you the chance to turn an awful draw into a mediocre draw. The other 3-drop I’m including right now is Cardiac, Elias Wirtham. While Cardiac isn’t great in curve matchups, he more than pays his bus fare in the off-curve matches. He stuns Hank Hall ◊ Hawk perpetually. He also gets Tom Thumb and his equipment out of your business. I generally like characters that can easily and freely deal with characters a single drop below them on defense, and Cardiac is no exception. Against decks that don’t have flight, like Kang City, you may even see Cardiac recovering characters (likely Dagger or Chip) at the cost of a small amount of breakthrough. This is true especially when people think you’re just going to bounce Dagger or use Chip. Put them in the front row in front of Cardiac. Your opponent will announce an attack on your 1-drop, hoping to get you to bounce. Because of this, you won’t see any aggressive pumps. Just let your drop stun. Next, your opponent may go after Cardiac, and you can reinforce the attack and recover the 1-drop, losing no one on the turn. Many people forget that Cardiac does more than just stun Hounds. Cardiac also deals with Shimmer.

4-Drops

Spider-Man, Peter Parker is the gentleman that really makes Costume Change shine. He is the other Spider-Man drop that is worth including four of. He single-handedly beats Xavier’s Dream into the ground, gets you out of Hounds lock, stops Finishing Move shenanigans, and powers-up easily when attacked down by Garth or Nimrod to force a mutual stun (or a counter removal).

Remember that he has evasion and that Ricochet will help protect him. This is especially true for those turns where you Null Time Zone and name Savage Beatdown and Ricochet prevents Peter from being targeted by No Man Escapes the Manhunters.

The alternative drop here is Cloak, Child of Darkness, and he may be a controversial one. Getting away from the chance that your opponent under-drops on turn 4 and you are able to create an exhausted/drop equilibrium, he is still an impressive off-initiative play on turn 4. He allows Roy Harper, Arsenal not to enter attack steps unless your opponent bends over backward with Press the Attack. He is weak against No Man Escapes the Manhunters, but since he negates a drop lower than him, your opponents aren’t going to have many other great attack-up-the-chain options at their disposal. Sure, you don’t have a 4-drop wall on the field (like Peter Parker can be), but the extra damage you prevent by exhausting an opposing 3-drop is comparable to the extra damage you take because you have a concealed 4-drop. This is especially efficient if you are willing to evade either your 3- or 4-drop on your opponent’s turn 4 initiative. You really need to try Cloak out to warm up to him; he is still a point of contention in the ranks at our card shop, and not everyone agrees with his usefulness. However, I like him, so I’m adding him.

5-Drops

Cloak Makes White Tiger a lot better, preventing 3-drop/4-drop safe team-attacks. White Tiger will have invulnerability pretty often. This won’t seem like a big deal during the mid-game, but when time is called, you will be very appreciative. The Tiger is naturally larger than Garth and Nimrod (his major competition), but watch out for power-ups. White Tiger fights are some of the most effective fights on which to use Spider Senses. This is especially true if you’ve Null Time Zoned Savage Beatdown for the turn. Spider-Man, Alien Symbiote again fulfills the Costume Change curve. He is another good defensive character to play Spider Senses on, since you can sometimes also power-up out of the attack (in the form of +1 ATK / +1 DEF counters).

Now, on to a weird choice: Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff. She does a couple of things. First, she is your only defense against combo decks. Granted, she doesn’t do that very well, but she’s a big body that is easy to search for if necessary and may catch your opponent off guard. Second, and more importantly, she is a Brotherhood character, and we are playing four Avalon Space Stations. If you happen to draw her early, you can net cards for all of your various discard outlets this way. Also, one of your Midnight Sons almost always ends up calling Brotherhood, so she’s effectively already on the team. Besides, I forgive her for the House of M stuff—it was Pietro’s fault.

6-Drops

Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, check. Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly, check. Koriand’r ◊ Starfire, check? I don’t suggest her for everyone, but she may just surprise you. Let’s be honest . . . some of us players get no respect from across the table, and that makes us dangerous. Imagine it’s turn 6, and your opponent leaves Bastion in the back row. Play Midnight Sons naming Titans, and your opponent will be left filling out the match slip. However, Starfire’s not easy to play. You have to have enough characters in your yard (which Dagger will help with), the initiative has to be just right, your opponent has to get stuck in a rhythm of formation (which is incredibly easy to do), and your opponent has to underestimate you. On offense, she’s just about as good as any other option you have on turn 6, and you can always just ditch her to Avalon Space Station if your opponent figures out your plans.

We have tested out Koriand’r in a lot of decks at our shop, and in order to use her effectively, we have to keep her secret from our opponent before she’s used. Even then, she will only be a surprise in the very first game of testing, but she is perfectly suited for a tournament environment of one-game matches. Be careful when you shuffle your deck—always keep the face of your cards hidden from your opponent’s eyes. When your opponent shuffles your deck, watch his or her eyes carefully (insist on eye-to-eye contact the entire time with a friendly conversational stare). Why do you think the higher level tournament players who play Titans run Koriand’r? It isn’t for her good looks. Even in top level play, players forget. She will win you games you have no business winning.

7-Drops

Well, 7-drop Spidey, obv. Ezekiel is the alternate 7-drop here, but he is significantly better on turn 8 when it’s your opponent’s initiative. This will give you a chance to play Micro-Chip (or Dagger) and Ezekiel, drawing you between four and six cards and fueling another full turn of 7-drop Spidey web splatters. The worst case scenario is that you just discard Ezekiel to exhaust 7-drop Magneto.

Dr. Strange, Stephen Strange is the major addition to the deck, but he can be considered almost exclusively the deck’s 8- or 9-drop. However, on the turn you boost Dr. Strange, you really need to Null Time Zone and name No Man Escapes the Manhunters to prevent unwieldy road blocks from cropping up in your path to direct-breakthrough-endurance-loss-ville.

8-Drops

Spider-Man, Cosmic Spider-Man fills in the Costume Change slot, provides a win condition with an obscenely large character with a useful effect, and also gives Spidey-7 a way to exhaust 8-drops. One copy, I’m sold. Now, I’m just getting cute with Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch here, but he doesn’t seem too bad. If you get to turn 8 against Titans, he’s insane. Against Sentinels, it’s similar—you are only left with Mags and Bastion to exhaust. While I’m not entirely sold on Ghost Rider, he may be worth testing. Is he just “game over” against a ton of decks? I imagine so.

Some Thoughts on the Characters

 

This deck is interesting and focused. It feels like we are trying to get to turn 7, and that’s my goal. We are trying to accomplish two things: to present a decklist where you almost always win if you can get to turn 7, and to present a decklist that can safely get you to turn 7 without compromising the power of the late game. This is easier than it sounds. One big problem is the combination of Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal and Red Star’s burn. The crux of the matter, then, is that our first six turns are semi-aggressive but don’t actually have to win the game. We need to put up a mediocre offense to remove a few guys from the field and safely reinforce along the way. It’s tempting to add a lot of weird teams to this deck for toolbox characters like Glorious Godfrey, Sunfire, and Nimrod. I’m doing my best to resist in an attempt to keep the deck from being spread too thin.

In this type of deck, there should be more character cards that non-character cards, but it’s currently lopsided. We’ll need to make several cuts here.

Plot Twists

4 Spider Senses

These are to be used efficiently on turns 4 through 6. Hoard these. One is nice, but two will fail attacks. This is especially true when someone decides to attack up the curve with a Savage Beatdown and you have the Senses ready. Then the opponent either has to blow another Beatdown, or the attack fails and costs the opponent a stun, a character, and a Beatdown. You should avoid using Senses when a Beatdown or a No Man will simply counter it, but sometimes that is precisely what you will want to do so that the opponent doesn’t get to use that same Beatdown on a follow-up attack. You will have to use your discretion—listen to your gut. Try to feel out how many offensive pumps your opponent has. Lastly, use this card to save endurance. You are trying to get to turn 7, and after that point, your plan is not to need more DEF pumps.

4 Wild Ride

Obv. Be careful of the endurance loss, though. This card is very versatile, but it stings in the late game. Having this card as your go-to search strategy is one of the major reasons you need to play so conservatively in the early game.

4 Null Time Zone  

You need to deny people plot twists. You need to stop No Man when you boost Dr. Strange, and you need to stop Titans Go any time your opponent has the initiative. Also, it’s a good way to start a turn 7+ against Titans. You have two great options to name, supposing your opponent just lets it resolve, which he or she will often be forced to do: Press the Attack or Heroic Sacrifice. Be aware of the current metagame and look for signals. If your opponent is playing A Child Named Valeria and Alfred Pennyworth, you may want to call Cosmic Radiation. If he or she is playing Thunderbolts, you may want to name Team Tactics or Blind Sided. And if your opponent is playing Gotham Knights and you have a few search cards you have to force through, you may want to name Fizzle. Lastly, I’m a fan of naming offensive and defensive pumps. Naming Savage Beatdown on the same turn where you have two Spider Senses in your row can equal very bad times for your opponent. If he or she is playing all characters with range and a Cover Fire would wreck you, look out for that. And if you sit down in front of me anytime, you may want to name Reign of Terror on turn 4 before I recruit, supposing of course that you have a non-Ricochet 3-drop worth Reigning. Practice this card—it’s one of the bigger finesse cards you will ever find in a card game. Remember that you can Micro-Chip this, so play it from your resource row when you can. In a pinch, you can even name Kang Council with a Midnight Sons and replace a couple copies of Null Time Zone. I mean, I’d do it.

2 Nice Try!

I love the effect, but I’m only playing two of them. I like being able to counter a Roy Harper activation, especially if a Null Time Zone naming Press the Attack has already gone off, but I am scared of choking on these. Choking on a card, for those of you not familiar with the term, is when you draw too many copies of the same card and are constantly in a situation where you can’t play any of them. Nice Try! is the type of card that you can choke on, but it’s also the type of card that wins you the game when you least expect it. Remember that Nice Try! can negate No Man Escapes the Manhunters (3 endurance is 3 endurance).

2 Spider-Tracer

I haven’t used Spider-Tracer very much myself, but I figure Rosario can’t be too far off base with this card. It is good for many of the same reasons that Null Time Zone and Nice Try! are good, just in a different way. Remember that you can Micro-Chip this. This is an especially good reason to get into a Roy Harper exhaustion war during the build phase. I fear that this card can also choke you, which is why I’m only including two. I think it’s a little too situational for any more copies.

4 Midnight Sons

Here are the Team-Ups in the (most likely) correct order: The first one will name Spider-Friends, the second one will name Brotherhood, the third one will name Titans, and the fourth one will name Kang Council. But don’t use these like they are going out of style. Only flip the Titans and Kang team-up if necessary, because you may have to fight against Have a Blast! or War of Attrition and you will need backup Spider-Friends team-ups.

4 Savage Beatdown

How predictable. We need offense, huh? How about Beatdown? This deck does occasionally need to enter the Red Zone and fight, and the best bang for our buck is the good ol’ Hulk Smashing Abomination card. I feel dirty playing a deck that actively promotes declaring attacks, but I’ll swallow my inhibitions for this article.

4 Costume Change

This gets you the Spider-Man you need when you need him. It can also get Scarlet Spider now and then, but don’t rely on that. Remember, if you already have your drops planned out, you can use this card to get more Spider-Men into your Avalon Space Station rotation. This is especially handy for power-ups. I like playing eight search cards. It makes me warm inside.

Some Thoughts on the Plot Twists

 

I’m excited. This looks like a pretty good selection we have going. The absence of Reconstruction Program may be apparent, but unlike Rosario’s list, we have access to the Brotherhood team-up with Avalon to net cards.

Locations

4 Avalon Space Station

Use this card constantly. You want to use this card proactively to fight a lot of fights. Remember, this card makes every card you draw a potential character exhaustion from turn 7 on, or a power-up during the turns prior. Before you go crazy fighting power-up wars against Curve Sentinels, remember that. Most of the cards you draw are just generic slots waiting for Avalon to give them a purpose. Also, you should team-up with Brotherhood early and use Avalon to get all your Midnight Sons out of your deck pronto. Sometimes it will even be correct to discard a Midnight Sons to get back a Dagger, mostly in cases where you don’t expect to need all the possible team-ups this deck can provide. Don’t be scared on a later turn to flip up a second Avalon, KO’ing the first one. Sometimes it’s your best play, but be aware of whether or not it will give you a major advantage. This is especially true when Brotherhood is teamed up. Avalon is also like the 7-drop Spider-Man—you aren’t penalized for playing four copies of it. You can avoid choking on the extra copies simply by discarding extra copies to itself.

Okay, now that we know what we are trying to do, let’s make the cuts! It’s everyone’s favorite part of the show, where I take cards that I have just said are great and tell you that they aren’t really worth it.

The Cuts

We need to remove thirteen cards, most of which will be characters.

-1 Micro-Chip

We want to have the chance to draw him naturally, but he’s not mandatory. He’s more of a breath-mint for when we go into battle—it’s nice to have, but not crucial.

-1 Scarlet Spider

This way, we are playing five copies of Scarlet Spider, whereas the original list ran seven—not too big of a difference. I think we can concede the second turn play most of the time, as it will not get us enough traction to get out of whatever mud-hole our opponent pushes us into.

-2 Ricochet

I like variety here, and I think it’s a very important drop to hit. This is where your legitimate curve should start. We were playing seven 3-drops, and the original list had a few less that mostly required natural drawing. There should be around five or six.

-1 Scarlet Witch

She is a pipe dream, and her ability doesn’t do quite enough against the problems that may arise, especially from Dr. Light, Arthur Light–based decks that will just choose to stun her before moving forward. In those situations, I’d rather have the Alien Symbiote and Ricochet protecting him. Besides, she deserves to be cut for what she did in House of M—totally her fault.

-1 Ezekiel

I’m cutting Ezekiel for pacing purposes. The film was just moving too slowly with him in it. He will be featured on the bonus-filled DVD that will be released just in time for the holiday season. You should try him and see how you feel about him, but he is often just a “win more” type of card, in my opinion.

-1 Ghost Rider

He is being cut for the same reason as Ezekiel. I think he’s a novel idea, but there isn’t room to support every pipe dream. You either need to have faith in Dr. Strange or faith in Ghost Rider. I chose the one that isn’t just a skeletal biker with fire for hair. Dr. Strange is mystical, and that tickles me.

-1 Null Time Zone

While this card is incredible, you’ll be able to reuse it with Micro-Chip at least once in a game if you are willing to under-drop. Also, Null Time Zone can whiff if you aren’t careful. This card takes a lot of practice, and unless you are willing to focus on every possible outcome of every possible turn, limiting yourself to just three of them for the really crucial turns may be okay. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are choking on them and just play one and name whatever because it might do something. Those are the worst Null Time Zones. They are mostly for later turns anyway, so we can safely cut one here.

-4 Savage Beatdown

Let’s be honest . . . can we do that? I really don’t think this deck is clamoring for Beatdowns to begin with. Not every deck that plans on turning characters sideways should put in four Beatdowns, so we should be fine without them. The point of the deck isn’t to run over your opponent. Without Beatdown, you just have to watch for potential Acrobatic Dodges and make safe team-attacks. Just get yourself to turn 7 and let the web-slinger work his magic from there on.

-1 Avalon Space Station

Something has to go, and the frequency of drawing it while playing three as compared to the necessity of drawing one isn’t too big of a tradeoff for us. You can win games when you don’t draw any Avalons. That is acceptable.

So, what did we end up with? I kept Koriand’r in the list . . . I can’t believe she survived the cuts! Playing her on an unsuspecting opponent has always been a dream of mine, and this is the type of deck where it may actually work. We are playing a deck that lacks flight, so your opponent hiding big characters in the back row makes sense, and turn 6 is the most pivotal turn that we have. Stunning Bastion, removing a Nimrod counter, or stunning Garth or Red Star is not out of the question with her. Let’s see how you like a taste of your own medicine, Titans!

Here’s our final decklist:

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

by Jason Hager

60 Cards


Characters (34)

4 Dagger, Child of Light

2 Micro-Chip

1 Scarlet Spider ◊ Spider-Man

2 Ricochet

1 Cardiac

1 Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

1 Brother Voodoo
4 Spider-Man, Peter Parker

1 Cloak

4 White Tiger

1 Spider-Man, Alien Symbiote

4 Scarlet Spider, Ben Reilly

1 Koriand’r ◊ Starfire

1 Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man

4 Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man

1 Dr. Strange, Stephen Strange

1 Spider-Man, Cosmic Spider-Man

Plot Twists (23)
4 Spider Senses
4 Wild Ride
3 Null Time Zone
2 Nice Try!
2 Spider-Tracer
4 Midnight Sons
4 Costume Change


Locations (3)

3 Avalon Space Station

Here are some matchup situations to look out for.

Avengers Reservist

Your attacks are not safe! This is the type of matchup where you need to hit 3-drop Spider-Man and go very carefully. The good news is that once you reach turn 7, you win the game. Your opponent can do very little to resist your punishing late game. Just be careful—this deck has so many Nasty Surprise–like cards that you will be happy to get Peter Parker’s DEF bonus while attacking. That being said, don’t stop attacking down, especially when it will require your opponent to flip a hidden Avenger’s Mansion and have a Heroes in Reserve. But remember that this deck can’t fight in combat in terms of defense, so you can make even-drop attacks all day long and they will all succeed. Get your opponent’s heavy hitters off the board and turtle up and reinforce when you don’t have the initiative.

Curve Sentinels

This is the matchup you built the deck for. It is far from a gimme, but it’s just about as good as you are going to get. Curve’s real magic usually takes place on turn 7 when Genosha goes large, and by that time, you should be able to start turning your opponent’s side of the table sideways. Don’t make any risky attack on turns 4 through 6. Team attack where necessary and don’t get ruined just because your opponent drew five copies of Sentinel Mark V and a Reconstruction Program. You aren’t trying to win the race early—just try to remove a few robots from the board while eliminating attacks back.

Teen Titans

You are going to get your 7-drop Roy Harper’d. It will happen. Be careful. You will have to fight tooth and nail to make sure he doesn’t get those ATK bonuses by exhausting the team in a very deliberate order. Start off by exhausting a non-Roy character. Your opponent will put a Roy pump on the chain, you will add to the chain with another character exhaust, your opponent will pump Roy, and you will exhaust another. Keep going, and finally, with all the pumps still on the chain, you will exhaust Roy. He will often pump himself, and then your opponent will Press the Attack him.

There are a few options for you in these situations. You can sometimes just exhaust Roy. See who your opponent is willing to exhaust in response to give him ATK bonuses. This is especially true when your hand isn’t huge to begin with and you need your opponent to exhaust his or her own guys (remember always to act as though you can exhaust every character your opponent ever plays, even if in reality you cannot). Against Titans, you need to attack during the mid-game and attack well. You desperately need to remove characters from the board. You can’t allow Titans to have out six or more characters on turn 7 for very long. Nice Try! will be ridiculous in this matchup, and if you are really scared of Titans, I would add more of them. Null Time Zoning at the beginning of the turn in the late game will be very good for you, especially if you have a Nice Try! to back it up. You may want to Spider-Tracer Red Star once and a while, and remember that it’s made for Roy. Naming Teen Titans Go! in the mid-game with Null Time Zone is the correct call.

Well, there you have it. I took out Iceman, Cool Customer and put in Koriand’r ◊ Starfire. Playing with Starfire is pretty close to playing with Firestar, and it reminds me of the old Firestar, Iceman, and Spider-Man cartoon from the ’80’s. (I saw it recently—it sucks. All your favorite cartoons from when you were a kid suck. It’s depressing.) Anyway, I hope maybe I said something you hadn’t thought about, and I hope I read all the cards correctly.

Keep sending me your decklists for review, please. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to mull over the JLA set and eventually clinic some decks that contain JLA cards.

Jason “I Can’t Believe I Lost to Koriand’r in LA after Writing This Article” Hager

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