(Metagame Archive) Drafting JLA – Plot Twists, Part 3

By Nate Price

Here it is, the final installment of the plot twists section of my overview of JLA. It’s been a long, three-week ordeal, but the end is finally in sight. Rather than waste your time, I’ll jump right into the meat of the material.

Running Interference – Take that, characters with flight! This card has some very good things going for it. Any card that allows you to prevent a character of yours from being stunned is good enough to warrant strong consideration. Obviously, this card is only useful in a primarily JLI deck. It also only stops an attack against a protected support row character. However, this is a DC set. As I’ve mentioned before, DC sets tend to have more characters with flight than average, so chances are very good that you will get an opportunity to use it. Overall, if it fits into your deck, this card should be a very early consideration.

Safety in Numbers – Another quality JLI plot twist. This one is geared more toward an off-curve resource restriction strategy than a straight-up curve deck. Following the same logic as with the above card, plot twists that prevent a character from stunning are good. Although someone will probably still stun, at least you get to decide which character gets to survive the turn. On top of that, the character is readied, which leaves it able to go in and attack again. Look for this one near the middle to late portions of the pack.

Secret Files – Lex Luthor and his sneaky secrets . . . This card creates quite the little conundrum. I am generally all for any card that allows you to get a character card from your deck. However, this card provides your opponent with the exact same benefit. So, how do you decide whether or not it’s worth it? The simple answer lies in your characters. If you have a character in your deck that is more than likely going to change the landscape of the game in your favor, then this card is definitely worth it. I’m talking the big guns like Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz; Gorilla Grodd; and Scarecrow, Fearmonger. These cards are so strong that their presence on your side often means that your opponent’s cards don’t really matter. Since the worst the opponent can do is get his or her own broken character, the worst you can achieve is parity. If you can do no worse than break even, this card should be worth it. Again, make sure you have something worth getting before you pick this card up.

Secret Origins – This is one of the marquee cards in the set, at least for Constructed. Luckily, it’s pretty darn good in Sealed Pack, as well. The only deck types it’s really not very good against are the JLI off-curve deck and the Injustice Gang Army deck. Those decks are uncommon in the grand scheme of things, though, so it’s almost never a dead card. And, trying not to sound like a broken record, cards that get characters from your deck are very good. If you open it in Sealed Pack, be happy. In Draft, it will probably stay in the pack for a few picks, so you shouldn’t worry about getting it until the middle of the pack.

Shake it Off – As a DEF pump, this card is lacking. However, as an ally enabler, it really stands out. It isn’t as multipurpose as Magnificent Seven, but it will frequently come in handy. This is an early pick for any deck that wants to abuse its ally theme. Other than that, this is a late pick card that may make the deck if you’re running low on playables.

Sorcerer’s Treasure – It’s a rare, so you won’t see it frequently. If you’re Secret Society and one manages to show up, though, be incredibly pleased. With my basic Draft strategy, the first picks of every pack will be plot twists, and they’ll be very good. Since I tend to have high quality plot twists in my decks, any card that allows me more uses of them will get played.

Staged Attack – I don’t really like this card. First off, it’s a very small pump. The best thing it does for you is force your opponent to use a card better than it to get over your DEF. Even if your character meets the requirements for the second part of the ability, the most endurance loss it can save you is 4. I personally think there are better cards to put into your deck.

Straight to the Grave – This is another power Secret Society rare. It may seem useless, but the enormous amount of recursion that a Secret Society deck is capable of makes this card effectively get your best two cards for use at any point. On top of that, it thins your deck out a bit. Any card in a Secret Society deck that puts cards from your deck into your KO’d pile is effectively a card drawer—it just works a little more slowly. If there is a good combat plot twist to take over this card, I’m fine with that. Otherwise, take this and look for the good recursion cards that come your way.

Teleport Tube – This is a fun little card. If your opponent manages to blow you out with some plot twists on your attack, you get to reset the attack. The ability to attack with impunity is pretty strong, so this card ends up being really good. It is a team-stamped rare, though, so your opportunities for use will be a little limited. Hopefully, you’ll get an opportunity sometime to play this card. I guarantee that you’ll end up agreeing with me.

The Plunder Plan – I love the saying “cheese it” more than anyone should. It’s useful, gets the point across, and even draws some bewildered looks from my hapless victims. “Did I just get mugged in the ’40s? Call the constables!” As for this card’s usefulness, I just want to remind you of a little card named Acrobatic Dodge. This card was a first pick back in the Stone Age of Marvel Origins Draft. Though the set has changed, the card’s power level hasn’t. As a Secret Society deck, you should have no problem putting the cards into your KO’d pile. It does hamper your plan of putting as many cards as possible into your KO’d pile, but you should be able to work around that. Besides, if you can’t, you can always cheese it!

Token Resistance – I’m not too sure about this card. It seems like it can be very powerful if you can get enough characters into play. However, in the average game, you won’t get too many more than four into play. This means that the best you can accomplish in a turn is -2 ATK. The question then becomes, is that enough? As a single-shot plot twist, this card would get played and picked early. One thing that ongoing plot twists lose, though, is the surprise factor. You get to surprise your opponents once, and then they know about it for the rest of the game. However, simply forcing them to change up their attack strategy may be enough of an advantage for you to take the game. I suggest that you play this card and form your own opinion. As of right now, it would make my deck in just about every circumstance.

Trial by Fire – This is a very good plot twist. You will play it in every deck, and it will be unbelievably good in a JLI deck. Take it very early and be happy. This card is a good reason to begin at least thinking about going JLI, but you don’t need to commit. You’ll play this even if JLI doesn’t come through for you.

UN General Assembly – This is another rare character searcher. This card’s utility comes down to whether or not you have any dual-affiliated characters worth getting. If you do, pick this card exactly as you would Secret Origins. Don’t forget that Team-Ups also give all characters in your deck both team affiliations.

Vicarious Living – I like this card. It’s another character searcher (something that appears to be widespread in this set). Most character searchers are good because they allow you to fill a hole in your curve. They make your deck more consistent by preventing stumbles. However, since you already have to have a character of the appropriate cost in your hand, this card serves a different purpose. It enhances the quality of your draw by getting you the best character at a drop, assuming that you don’t already have it. Every deck has that one character (or two, hopefully) that is just better than every other character in the deck. This lets them make their appearance.

Wall of Will – Sadly, there isn’t enough willpower in this set for this card to make the kind of impact it could have in GLC. It’s generally not worth picking, save on those few occasions when you manage to get all of the willpower characters in the draft. Then it becomes a +2 DEF card on average, which is good enough to warrant play.

War Without End – Until now. Seeing as how this is a legacy card, I’m ending it. War over.

Wheel of Misfortune – The only deck that’s really going to want to spin this wheel is the unaffiliated deck that may or may not be lurking out there. It’s a rare deck, but if the pieces fall together right, you’d want this to make the cut. It just isn’t strong enough as a mere power-up stopper.

With Prejudice – In the average Sealed Pack deck, characters outnumber plot twists by a ratio of about 2 to 1. This means that on average, this card will give your character +2.3 ATK. That makes it worth playing on its own merit. Add to that the fact that it stocks your KO’d pile, and this card becomes stellar in the Secret Society deck. Pick it early and in numbers if you can.

World War III – In an IG Army deck, this card might see play. You have to have a large number of characters in play in order to make this card even remotely playable. The one major downfall of low-cost Army characters is their frailty. They don’t tend to stick around long enough to be useful. If you do have enough characters in play, though, you could make a monster swing in and then use the remainders to take out an opponent’s remaining characters for good. That’s a mighty big “if,” though. I can’t in good faith tell anyone to play this card in this format, so for now, it’s being relegated to the unplayed stack.

World’s Greatest Heroes – “Believe it or not, I’m walking on air. I never thought I could feel so free-ee-eeeee!” Nothing like a little impromptu jam session to end the column. I love that song. If you don’t get the reference, ask me the next time you see me and I’ll fill ya in. Any way, for this card, things are rather simple. If you’re JLI and JLA, this card is very good and should be picked as early as you would any plot twist (which is around fifth or so). If not, don’t play it. I love it when life is simple.

Well, that’s it for this week. I hope you all enjoyed my singing. I’m no TBS (who I’ve heard does a phenomenal Frank Sinatra), but I still bring the fever and the passion. I’ve finished all the plot twists and tried to explain their roles in the various archetypes in the format. Hopefully, you guys have gotten some help out of this part of the series and are ready for the upcoming PC. Next week, I’ll be back with the final piece—the equipment and the locations. Be there or be square!

As always, questions and comments can be sent to the_priceis_right@yahoo.com. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

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