(Metagame Archive) Two Turns Ahead – Give Thanks!

By Tim Willoughby

This Thanksgiving, as with the 23 before it, I and all of my countrymen will not be recognizing it as a holiday. Don’t let this get you down, though; I’m only doing so in order to maintain my status as “An Englishman.®” The perks of being an Englishman are the ability to drink lots of tea, the license to expound at length at any moment about the glory of the British Empire— which was once the largest in the world—and the virtual immunity to Marmite. The downside? No pumpkin pie.

I am still thankful in my own little way, though. In my unceasing quest for knowledge so that I can eventually take over the world with some nefarious scheme (the ultimate goal of any self-respecting Englishman—just look at any English villain from any film ever), I love it when a new set comes out, because it gives me plenty to think about. As a bookend to last week’s altogether too high-and-mighty musings about the heroes in the JLA, I have been doing some serious pondering about the darker side of the latest Vs. expansion and all the naughtiness in which it allows one to engage.

The Injustice Gang has a great way of making situations appear to be anything but fair. Some of this falls under the umbrella of creating situations whereby opponents have plenty of cards in hand, but very little that they can realistically do with them. I am a big fan of the sense of futility that this can instil in an opponent. Between IQ, Lex Luthor, Nefarious Philanthropist, and The Joker, Headline Stealer, the Injustice Gang can set up a very tough position for opponents—the villain gives them a lot to work with (tells them the true nature of his or her plan to take over the world) and leaves them in a trap about to close.

The big deal about these sorts of decks, though, is reinforcing the lock. When you supply your opponent with enough ammunition, it is entirely possible that he or she will shoot you down. Lex Luthor is particularly powerful because his ability triggers at the start of the build phase and sets up a modifier for the turn, so if he gets stunned later, it won’t dramatically increase the options for wily opponents. The same cannot be said for The Joker, though. Should your opponent be able to stun the villainous clown, he or she will immediately have the potential to use all of those cards that were slowly but surely accumulating in hand. For this reason alone, it might be worth loading up on defensive plot twists and (potentially) on characters like Mercy, Amazon Bodyguard to keep those important characters around.

While your opponent (once under the squeeze of the Injustice Gang) will not have a lot of plot twists at his or her disposal, there is every likelihood that he or she will have the optimal character draw. And finding locations and equipment shouldn’t be too tough, either. Until turn 4, you won’t have much in the way of hand-locking components online. Defensive tricks can also help you set your traps by heading off frustrating possibilities (like a KO effect on Lex) that spoil your chance at spoiling somebody else’s day.

Of course, that would be a traditional way to go about things. I have never really been a big one for tradition, especially around major holidays that I don’t celebrate. So, I thought that it might be fun in the spirit of Thanksgiving to take things a little further in terms of making opponents pay. For this, I had to think a little outside the box.

appears to have the greatest potential for putting the squeeze on opponents who are already having trouble with the Injustice Gang’s hand control elements. If we really want to put the squeeze on, we can remove our entire hand from the game just prior to the recovery phase with Bat’s Belfry and stack the triggers such that we get our cards back from the Belfry just after we have caused opponents to lose quite a lot of endurance. Running this plan requires a couple of tweaks to the standard “collection of evil masterminds” build of the Injustice Gang, but not quite as many as you might think. Somehow, you need to engineer it so that you have Manhunter characters and Arkham Inmates in play in your Injustice Gang deck. Conveniently, the Gang has all the tools to achieve this, including cunning search effects and dual affiliation characters.

For the Arkham Inmates concerns, there are those indecisive fools who are naturally part of the Injustice Gang but not in an asylum. Both Poison Ivy, Deadly Rose and The Joker, Headline Stealer were already strong contenders to make the cut, and now that Ivy is fetching Bat’s Belfry in addition to whichever other locations she might have coveted, she is definitely a winner (and a 3 ATK / 3 DEF 2-drop, as well!). To get to the Manhunter cards, things need to be a little sneakier.

The Manhunters have only a single 1-cost Army character, and Manhunter Sniper, even with a relevant ability for our plan to burn our opponents, isn’t quite what we’re looking for. However, his status as a member of the tiny Army collective makes him a valuable tool for this deck. Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee can drop him into play at the start of the recovery phase without wasting a resource point, which is just enough time to flip Millennium. Additionally, Shadow-Thief and Tattooed Man, Living Ink allow for fairly pain-free ways to fetch more little stinkers so that Council of Power’s cost of exhausting characters doesn’t become too burdensome. Each of these will represent backup characters at their respective costs, as the primary concern will always be to ensure that hand-locking elements like Lex Luthor are active. Still, each is perfectly solid in its own right if it does see play. Manhunter Sniper can also significantly slow down the offense of opposing decks by standing in front of more important characters, which makes life tricky with some help from Coast City, a powerful and versatile target for Poison Ivy. Being teamed up with Manhunters also allows for a few more nifty little plot twists. I have an irrational love for Fire Support when being defensive is the plan, and I’m always happy to run Plans Within Plans to recycle whichever powerful effect seems most appropriate.

Ultimately, the win condition of this Injustice Gang Thanksgiving Special is to overcook opposing turkeys with the painful burn effects of Scarecrow, Psycho Psychologist, IQ, and Council of Power. Of course, like all good evil geniuses, you will end up doing a good deal of faffing about in order to get there, but that is all part and parcel of taking over the world. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

Bearing that in mind, here’s the list:

Characters

6 Manhunter Sniper

4 Poison Ivy, Deadly Rose

3 IQ

4 Lex Luthor, Nefarious Philanthropist

3 Shadow-Thief

4 The Joker, Headline Stealer

2 Circe, Immortal Sorceress

4 Scarecrow, Psycho Psychologist

2 Tattooed Man, Living Ink

Plot Twists

4 Acrobatic Dodge

2 Metropolis

4 Millennium

2 Bat’s Belfry

2 Coast City

4 Council of Power

4 Fire Support

3 Lanterns in Love

3 Narrow Escape

As you eat your turkey this Thanksgiving, remember this: I shall be studiously not eating turkey and making a plan to take over the world. Be thankful that I don’t know where you live . . .

Have fun and be lucky!

Tim “Thanks Taking” Willoughby

timwilloughby@hotmail.com

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