(Metagame Archive) X-Men Preview: Absorbing Man

By Paul Ross

Hi all.

Let’s start by cutting to the chase. Here is today’s preview card:

I look forward to hitting the web every three months to discover a little bit more of the massive comic lore iceberg that lurks beneath the surface of this fine game. Here are the fruits of this quarter’s expedition.

Once upon a time, Absorbing Man was simply Carl Creel, a brutal criminal serving time for aggravated assault. While imprisoned, he was randomly chosen by Loki to be a pawn in his war against Thor. Loki enchanted Creel’s drinking water with rare Asgardian herbs, giving him the power to absorb the physical properties of anything he touched. Thus was born Absorbing Man!

He wasted no time in using his new power to escape from prison, and he came close to defeating Thor by absorbing the properties of Thor’s hammer as well as the great strength of Thor himself. Over time, Absorbing Man became one of Thor’s most enduring mortal enemies.

His power was not without its drawbacks, however. He met his first defeat when he exploded trying to absorb the physical properties of the entire planet Earth. He also disastrously absorbed the properties of glass while falling.

A later episode in his life also started with a prison break of sorts. He was abducted from jail by the Beyonder to fight in the Secret Wars, where he met and fell in love with the villainous Titania. The two have since served together in two incarnations of the Masters of Evil. In fact, many members of that team affiliation were guests at their wedding, including The Wrecker, who was Creel’s best man!

As is often the case, this character is strong enough in Sealed Pack formats to tempt players into the perils of legacy affiliations. A 4-drop body that will usually be 8 ATK / 8 DEF going into turn 5 is attractive enough, but given that this expansion also contains a number of powers with costs that can be “paid” with Absorbing Man’s counters, his appeal goes up another notch.

However, his rarity means that he won’t be hitting the table all that often in Sealed Pack play, so I talked to a trio of local players about Masters of Evil in Constructed. All have the distinction of having played in at least one Metagame.com Golden Age feature match with a Masters of Evil character on the table!

Scott Hunstad, co-owner of Vsparadise.com and a PC Amsterdam semifinalist, originally proposed the Faces of Evil deck to a team of initially dubious Australian PC-goers. Alex Brown, humorously called “the best technical Vs. player in the world” by everybody but himself, recently wrote the definitive treatise on the deck after piloting it to an 8-2 finish in LA. I’ve summarized some of their thoughts below:

Masters of Evil makes a good off-curve team because of the Beetle, Armorsmith/Yellowjacket, Rita DeMara mini-engine. They also have an “alternate resource point” theme where they generate excess resource points and use them for purposes other than recruitment, but that theme hasn’t really been given a go yet, even though some individual cards are good (like Melissa Gold ◊ Screaming Mimi with weenies and Grey Gargoyle against curve). The only such deck that we have seen is a Jericho-abuse deck.

Kakarot Turker recently took an innovative Child Lock deck to the finals of the Sydney $10K, and Screaming Mimi usually provided the nail in his opponent’s coffin. He talked some Titans tech with me:

The best affiliation with which to capitalize on MoE’s resource point theme is Teen Titans due to Optitron, Red Star, and more importantly (in this team-up at least), Jericho. This deck is great against curve but suffers against anything that can stun Jericho out of combat. In the right metagame, it may well be viable. The theme has the potential to see more play depending on R&D’s future decisions.

So, will Absorbing Man be the card that pushes the Masters of Evil’s resource point theme over the top? The team is already assembled: The Wrecking Crew of Bulldozer, Piledriver, and Thunderball led by the The Wrecker, along with a cast of supporting powerhouses like Shocker, Vibro-Shock Villain.

And it’s not like you’re limited to just one or two affiliations, either. More than ten teams (in addition to the aforementioned Titans) have cards with a payment power that costs resource points, and those are just the ones currently in print!

While I can’t say too much about R&D’s future decisions, I can share a playtesting tidbit. I’m reliably informed that Absorbing Man’s once-per-turn restriction came very late in development, and that, in the Good Old Days, the plan was to build up the biggest pile of counters possible (optimally assisted by Atlantean Trident) and then “go off” in a spectacular late game death blossom of resource points. Players will have to work a bit harder to break this card now . . .

. . . And their first chance to do so will be at an X-Men Sneak Preview event. Hope everybody has a great day (or two!) at theirs.

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