(Metagame Archive) Drafting JLA – Equipment and Locations

By Nate Price

This is it—the end of the road. I’ve spent the past weeks agonizing over every detail of the upcoming format for PC Atlanta. By now, you should be familiar with almost every card you’re going to see at the PC and more or less familiar with how to value and best abuse each of those cards. My Justice League of America breakdown is almost complete. All we need to take a look at now are the most maligned of all card types—the equipment and locations. There are some diamonds in the rough in this set, though, and I’ll help you to separate out the chaff in this last installment of my JLA breakdown.

Atlantean Trident – In order to be useful in a deck, equipment has to fit into a couple of categories. First off, it has to be useful. I know that’s kind of a catch-all answer, but it’s the first step in weeding out the good equipment from the bad. Next, it either has to be free to play, or the stat bonuses it provides to the equipped character have to make it at least as good as a character of the two cards’ combined costs. This means that if you play a 1-drop equipment on your 5-drop character, the result had better be a character that’s at least as good as a 6-drop. Atlantean Trident fits into both of these categories. The counters it adds give it a long lasting effect on the game. On top of that, the +3 ATK makes whatever character you play it on at least as good as the average character of the next highest cost. Since it fits into both categories, it deserves to be considered for a deck. I’m not as big a fan of it as I am of other equipment in the set, though, so I don’t usually play it. However, if you have to play it to help fill in your curve, don’t be afraid. It’ll get the job done.

High-Tech Flare Gun – Now that’s what I’m talking about! This equipment gives the same stats as the Trident, but it adds an ability that can really come in handy. And it’s transferable, too. I wouldn’t be sad at all if this ended up in my playable pile, although I admittedly still would not be overenthusiastic about trying to get one for my deck. It makes a good twenty-ninth card.

Justice League Signal Device – Cost? Free. Useful ability? Check. This is another card, like the Flare Gun, that will probably make its way into your deck. The added consistency this card lends to your deck is almost too much to pass up in most circumstances. Drawing power-ups for your ally characters isn’t bad, either. Just try to run at least 20 JLA or JLI characters so you hit consistently.

Mobius Chair – Every good hero deserves a good chair. Some have better chairs than others. This chair is sadly not one of the finer pieces of handicraft in this set. It’s the right cost, but its bonuses are lacking and its ability is team-stamped. I’d say no.

Nth Metal – Here it is—the mother lode. This is the artifact that you should keep your eyes open for. Any player who has any characters with ally in his or her deck should be drooling to get a crack at one of these. On top of triggering ally, it has the potential to trigger more than once each turn. This is the only equipment that I would consider picking high and include in any deck I build.

Philosopher’s Stone – Although this card has some pretty fun Constructed potential, its options in Sealed Pack are somewhat limited. The stat bonus it provides is good enough to warrant play, but its ability is too hit or miss for one-game matches. I probably wouldn’t play it, but since it’s a rare, it’s unlikely I’d ever get the chance anyway.

Quadromobile – Drool . . . First off, I love drafting Secret Society. I love filling up my KO’d pile and then finding ways to take the cards I put there and make them useful again. This card is one of those ways. It doesn’t stop at being a free piece of equipment that gives a good combat boost. No sir! It even has a KO ability that gets back any character or location card from your KO’d pile. This is a card that Secret Society players should be looking at early. It’ll make their decks every time, and you can never have too much recursion in a Secret Society deck.

Field of Honor – As far as locations go, I would much rather play most locations over a piece of equipment. They generally mimic plot twists but have reusable effects. Obviously, the locations that are the best are the ones that mimic the best plot twists. Look at GLC Draft, for example. In GLC, one of the best plot twists in the game was Uppercut. It was the standard large ATK pump. Oa was a first pick bomb in Draft; it was more or less a reusable Uppercut. This is what I generally look for in a location. Field of Honor unfortunately doesn’t mimic a plot twist that would generally make it into my deck. All it really does is force opponents to attack slightly differently than they normally might. You get a chance to blow them out on their first attack since they can’t respond to any plot twists you might play. However, they can easily counteract this by simply making their weakest attack first. Then it’s more or less inconsequential whether or not their attack succeeds or fails. I’ve never been that impressed with this card, and I wouldn’t recommend putting it into any decks you get.

Gorilla City – Right out of Charlton Heston’s worst nightmare, Gorilla City

is a work of location art. It’s easily one of the best and most powerful locations in the set, and it’s a common. It works wonderfully with the theme SS has going, as it not only feeds the KO’d pile, but it also feeds off of it in the later stages of the game. Pick it high and don’t look back. Go-Rillas!

Hard-Light Storage Tank – I was never lucky enough to get one of these when I was drafting the IG Army deck, so I’m not really sure how good it actually is. In theory, though, if you manage to get the deck, it should be pretty stellar. Your Army guys should be able to stun multiple characters per turn, which should allow you to get an ever-growing army into play rather quickly. It’s a rare, so you probably won’t see it very often, but if you’re IG Army and get the chance, you might pick one up. The good thing is that it’s useless in every other deck, so you should be able to get it late.

Injustice Gang Satellite – This thing is cool. It looks like Skeletor’s home away from home. It also mimics one of the best plot twists ever printed. Finishing Move on a stick was good in equipment form with War Wagon and Chopping Block, so it should be even better in location form. Since the IG wants nothing more than to fill up its opponents’ hands, it should never fail to activate. This card is a bomb.

JLI Embassy – This one’s obviously for the resource restriction JLI deck. It serves its purpose well. In the JLI deck, you often have to send multiple characters in on each attack, so the opponent is bound to stun many of your characters. This card helps you keep them around longer. It’s kind of taxing on the resources, but since you aren’t playing cards from your hand as resources after a certain point, you should have the fuel. This is another one of those cards that is narrow enough in its focus to go around the table pretty late, so keep your eyes open near the end of the packs.

Kooey Kooey Kooey – I like playing this card simply because I get to say the name! Kooey Kooey Kooey! It’s enough to drive a person mad! Anyway, it’s a rare with a rather impotent effect in Sealed Pack. I’m curious to see how this gets played in Constructed, but for now, play it if you manage to get one really late and don’t go out of your way to pick one up.

Lair of the Mastermind – This is a new take on Mosaic World, but this time it’s tailored to be better for the unaffiliated characters. In a deck that’s heavy on unaffiliated characters, this card is gold. Otherwise, it’s just a terrible Team-Up.

Monitor Womb Station – This is another card I really want to see in Constructed but am rather blase about in Sealed Pack, which goes to show how different the two formats are. This has the potential to be a bomb in a Constructed deck, but because the possibility of shutting an opponent down with it in Sealed Pack is so small, it becomes nearly unplayable.

Royal Egg-Matrix – Since many Army characters will die after team attacking, it’s good to have a way to get them back. This should get the job done. It’s not the best card in the world but, depending on the cards you were able to pick up, it could have a decent impact on the game. This card is very deck specific, so it will generally make it to you pretty late.

S.T.A.R. Labs Orbital Platform – It’s a great effect in numbers, but in order to fit enough into the deck to make it worthwhile, you either have to cut good plot twists or characters. Both options are unacceptable. I’m not that impressed by this card.

Satellite HQ – If only willpower had a bigger presence in this set, then this card would be amazing. As it is, it’s only good if you somehow managed to draft every Green Lantern–stamped card in the draft. I may be undervaluing the other willpower characters in JLA, but I’d generally stay away from this.

Secret Sanctuary – This is another JLA card that keys off of willpower. This one has less use than the previous one, though. At least with Satellite HQ, you got a decent DEF pump out of the location. All you can really expect out of this is a power-up, and only if you managed to get a decent number of willpower characters in play.

Sinister Citadel – This card is good. It turns your chaff stunned characters into permanent bonuses. The best part is that you can move these bonuses around. Attack with one character, then move a counter and attack with another. Not too shabby.

Slaughter Swamp – If you know anything about the Secret Society, you’ll know that they would really enjoy getting their hands on this card. It keeps their KO’d pile large while allowing them to recur character cards back. Seems like a winning combination.

The Castle – I thought I’d be more disappointed with this card. Its effect seems so miniscule. However, almost all of your characters are rather small, so the reinforcement really helps.

The Watchtower – Bombs away! Some of the best character cards in the game are JLA, and this card helps you find them. It helps improve the consistency of your deck without sacrificing card advantage. It can fill in the curve or dig deep for a power-up. This card can do it all. Heaven help your opponents if you managed to get the JLA/SS deck. Then it helps to feed your KO’d pile, too. And we all know what that leads to . . .

UN Building – Sadly, you need three teams to make this work. I was a big fan of Metropolis and I kind of miss it. It was one of the shining stars in Superman, Man of Steel Draft. As for this, whether or not to play it should be easily answered by your deck. If you have three teams, or if you have some dual-affiliated characters along with another team that you can consistently get on the table, play it. If not, then don’t. ’Nuff said.

No really, ’nuff said. That’s all I’ve got for this week. Actually, that’s all I’ve got for JLA. I’ve taken a look at each card in the set. The main purpose of this was to get you thinking properly about what makes some cards good and others bad. If you know the thought processes that go into analyzing a set, then you can much more easily make decisions regarding picks in the future. If you didn’t know anything about JLA drafting, I hope this helped. You may not agree with my opinions about the cards, but at least you know why I think what I do. You might even have had your opinion changed or tried something new as a result. I’ll be back in the next couple of weeks with some one-shot articles about some things I’ve wanted to touch on for a while now. I’ll see you next week, guys.

As always, questions and comments can be sent to the_priceis_right@yahoo.com.

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