(Metagame Archive) Cerebro XXIX

By Paul Ross

Hi All,

’Tis once again the season to make way for a hot new expansion. And, as it happens, ’tis also the season to introduce a hot new document to go along with it!

In response to numerous requests from various avenues, I’ve been cobbling together a one-stop doc packed full of goodness from each of the FAQs released so far. At least, that’s how it started out . . . Since then, it’s mutated into a sort of user-friendly glossary of game terms. If there’s a word on a card that causes you confusion, the hope is that this document will lessen it.

Most excitingly, the initials of the title spell out an actual word! (It’s possible I need to get out more.) Anyway, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to head over and check out the SOFT (summary of FAQ terms). For new players, it’s an introduction to all the terms with which you may not yet be familiar. For veterans, it’s a handy reference for those of you who don’t consider the Comprehensive Rules Document to be a white-knuckle page turner.

We’ll be updating it as each future expansion is released, so if you have any suggestions for additions or changes, they are most welcome at vsrules@gmail.com.

Let’s answer some questions!

I am playing my Above and Below deck. I control Electric Eve equipped with Blackbird Blue. I have another Blackbird Blue in my hand. Can I evade Eve to “turn off” her Blackbird Blue’s text box, thus enabling me to play a second one?

John-Michael G.

Two things here:

1) You can’t play a second Blackbird Blue onto Eve because she is still equipped and therefore an illegal target.

2) You can play a second Blackbird Blue onto another character you control, but the uniqueness rule will put the first one into the KO’d pile as the second one comes into play (because it still has its name, even though its text box is inactive).

What if I recruit Black Panther, King of Wakanda into my visible area? Can I equip a Blackbird Blue to him without KO’ing the one on Electric Eve?

John-Michael G.

Well, not the one in your hand, but if you have a third Blackbird Blue in your deck, then yes, you can search for that one and equip it to Black Panther. Blank Panther’s triggered effect doesn’t recruit the equipment, so the uniqueness rule doesn’t apply.

If I were teamed-up with Brotherhood or Crime Lords, could I steal a Blackbird Blue using Misappropriation or Jester without KO’ing the one on Electric Eve? Basically, are any of these viable methods of getting to control two Blackbird Blues at the same time?

John-Michael G.

Yep. Both Misappropriation and Jester are viable because, again, the uniqueness rule applies only to recruitment.

I was told by one of my local judges that a new ruling was made where characters can be KO’d for multiple effects and still have the effects go off. Originally, he said that Henrietta Hunter could use her power in addition to other cards like X-Statix HQ, and both effects would still resolve. Is this true?

wolfrpa

No, that’s not true. If you KO a character to pay the cost of one effect, you can’t KO it to pay the cost of another.

If that’s the case, does it apply to other things like multiple copies of Devil’s Due?

wolfrpa

Nope, same answer. If you KO a character to use Devil’s Due’s power, then you can’t KO it to pay another cost (even another cost of the same power).

What you might be asking about are six characters from the X-Men expansion, each of whom has an unusual (and strong!) power explained in this [FAQ] entry:

You may KO <me> and <do something else>.

Six characters (Catseye; Changeling; Empath; Jetstream; Postman; and Firestar, Hellion) have a power with this text. When such an effect resolves, you may choose to KO the character and <do something else>, even if the character can’t be KO’d or is no longer in play.

 

Example: Firestar, Hellion reads, “Whenever Firestar becomes stunned, you may KO her and have target opponent lose 5 endurance.” Henrietta Hunter reads, “KO a non-Army character adjacent to Henrietta Hunter >>> Draw a card.” You control both characters and they are adjacent to each other. Firestar becomes stunned during attack conclusion, triggering her power. The effect goes on the chain after that attack concludes. In response, you may use Henrietta’s power to KO Firestar and draw a card. When Firestar’s effect resolves, you may choose to KO her (which fails) and burn your opponent (which succeeds), even though Firestar is no longer in play.

The difference is that these characters don’t require you to KO as a cost, nor do they check “if you do.” So when such a triggered effect resolves and you choose to take the KO option, you simply do as much as possible of “KO <me> and <do something else>.” If you can’t KO the character, you still get to <do something else>.

I was wondering what the result would be of an interaction between  and Piper. Specifically, if Player A responds to the triggered effect of Player B’s Felix Faust by stealing him with Piper, which player gets to choose whether or not to KO Faust and put Army characters from the KO’d pile into play? My suspicion is that the effect, once it has triggered and gone onto the chain, will remember who controlled Faust at the time, and thus Player B will still choose whether or not to KO Faust and return his or her Army characters, despite the fact that he or she no longer controls Faust. However, I’ve been wrong before.

David F., Toronto, Canada

But not this time! “You” and “your” refers to the controller of an effect, and for a triggered effect, the player who controlled the source of that effect as it triggered is indeed the controller of that effect.

Also, does Quentin Carnival’s checking of an equipment’s cost for the purpose of equipping it directly to an unequipped Marvel Knights character take into account modifiers that reduce the cost? For example, Titanium Sword costs 1 less to recruit while you control an MK character. Does that mean that you could equip it with Quentin Carnival (as it has a “cost” of 1 – 1 = 0)? Or would “costs 1 less to recruit” not actually affect the cost of the equipment for purposes other than recruiting?

David F., Toronto, Canada

The latter. Although Titanium Sword “costs 1 less to recruit” while you control a Marvel Knights character, it is always an equipment card with cost equal to the number printed in its top left-hand corner.

Does an effect like that of Quentin Carnival ignore restrictions of characters like “cannot be equipped”? For example, could I use Quentin Carnival to put an equipment card with cost 0 from my hand into play equipped to Speed Demon, James Sanders?

David F., Toronto, Canada

Nope. Speed Demon cannot be equipped, regardless of how you try to attach equipment to him.

Or could an effect like Punisher, Jury’s be used to equip him with equipment that would otherwise be illegal to equip him with—Medallion of Power, for example?

David F., Toronto, Canada

Similarly, Medallion of Power can be equipped only to a hidden character, regardless of how you try to attach it.

 

 

Just a quick question about Mob Mentality. What happens when  triggers if your opponent has all Physical characters and a face-up Mob Mentality?

Alton H.

Assuming you control H’ronmeer’s Curse (and a non-stunned character as it triggers), your opponent can choose any Physical character he or she controls with cost 2 or less to “satisfy” the Curse, but it won’t become stunned thanks to Mob Mentality.

For that matter, what happens if the opponent only has a single 2-cost Physical character and another non-Physical 2-cost character in play? Can he or she choose the Physical character for the Curse even if the Mob Mentality would prevent it from stunning?

Alton H.

Yes, that’s correct. H’ronmeer’s Curse requires the choice of a non-stunned character, but not necessarily one that can be stunned.

Player A controls Total Anarchy and Player B activates The Alley. Later that turn during the combat phase, Player B evades a character. Does it get KO’d?

Joel D.

No, the evading character cannot be KO’d by any effect controlled by Player B’s opponent during the combat phase. The Total Anarchy effect will resolve but do nothing.

What if Player A evades a character, and then in response, Player B plays Total Anarchy, and then in response, Player A activates The Alley? Does that character get KO’d?

Joel D.

Well, first of all, Player B can’t KO an evading character by playing Total Anarchy in response to that character evading. An evading character is stunned as a cost, so by the time Player B gets priority to play Total Anarchy, it’s too late for it to trigger off the stun.

As for the rest of the question, it’s the same answer as above. During the combat phase, as long as The Alley’s activated effect resolves before Total Anarchy’s triggered effect, that triggered effect will resolve but do nothing if it’s trying to KO a character controlled by Player A.

If I control Crisis on Infinite Earths and discard a character card for , can I search for an unaffiliated character card (since it is no longer unaffiliated, thanks to Crisis)?

Sadath A., NYC

Yep, that works!

Just some questions about uniqueness. I control Crisis on Infinite Earths and Batman, World’s Greatest Detective. If I recruit Batman, Caped Crusader, can my opponent play Have a Blast! to replace my Crisis, causing the uniqueness rule to put World’s Greatest Detective into my KO’d pile?

Anthony, NZ

Yep. World’s Greatest Detective will be put into your KO’d pile as part of resolving Caped Crusader’s recruit effect.

I control Crisis on Infinite Earths and Batman, Caped Crusader. Can I recruit Batman, The Dark Knight, who has loyalty?

Anthony, NZ

Yep, because The Dark Knight shares an affiliation with Caped Crusader (namely, Crisis).

I have a question about Sewer System. One of its powers lets me enable a target character to attack protected characters. As I understand it, that means that I can propose an attack with that target against a protected character, even if that target doesn’t have flight (unless the protecting character is something like Tomar Tu, because “cannot” overrules “can”). Is this correct?

Ben Q.

Absolutely correct. To answer another question I’ve heard asked on the subject, Sewer System does not allow characters without range to attack from the support row or anything like that.

I have a quick question. If I control two Wundagore Citadels, do I get an additional 6 breakthrough?

Ronald R.

Yes. If you manage to get a second Citadel into your resource row and activate both targeting the same character, that character will cause 6 additional breakthrough.

Let’s say I have Teamwork and a Team-Up card face up in my resource row, and then I play War of Attrition to replace an opponent’s face-up resource. Does my opponent get to replace my Team-Up resource, or does Teamwork “protect” it?

Al B., Detroit, MI

In this scenario, Teamwork fails to protect your resource for two reasons. The first is that War of Attrition does not target your resource (because its second sentence doesn’t use the word “target”—it targets only the resource your opponent controls). The second reason is that you actually control the War of Attrition effect, even though it allows your opponent to replace a resource you control.

Concerning Neutralized, if my Morlock defender is being attacked and I know I’ll be stunning the attacker during the attack conclusion, can I exhaust my defender to play Neutralized, wait until everyone stuns, and then resolve the chain backwards and choose that newly stunned attacker to be Neutralized?

Christian L.

Well, it’s true that Neutralized doesn’t target, so there’s no need for you to choose a stunned character (or for there even to be a stunned character to choose) as you play it. You do indeed choose one on resolution.

However, the wrench in the works is that you can’t actually get to the attack conclusion while there’s an effect on the chain. So, your plan becomes problematic as you “wait until everyone stuns and then resolve the chain.”

An attack does not conclude until successive passes on an empty chain. As a result, Neutralized must resolve first, and you must choose a stunned character as it does (before the attacker becomes stunned during attack conclusion).

If I use Jean Grey, Phoenix Force’s power to bounce everything, and I control Mageddon, will his power trigger even though he’s bouncing at the same time as my opponent’s characters?

Corey F.

Yes, his power will trigger. Powers that trigger off a character leaving play look back to the game state just before that character left play to determine if any powers existed that could trigger off that event.

In your scenario, Mageddon’s power triggers off a character leaving play, so it looks back to the game state just before that event. At that time, he was still in play, so his power could trigger.

And with that clash of the titans resolved, it’s time to roll the credits on another Cerebro.

I hope everybody had a great time at the Sneak Previews this weekend. Any rules questions that came up . . . send them to vsrules@gmail.com.

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(Metagame Archive) Voices from the Field: The Other Design: X-Men, Part 1

By Ben Kalman

Now that you know the basics of how the research and art request/design process works for Vs. sets, it’s time to delve into some new details. In particular, let’s look at how it goes when you’re working for a different designer, and when you’re working on a set dealing with teams that already exist.

First off, when working on sequential sets, you rarely have a moment to breathe between them. I had started the Justice League of America art requests within a week of finishing the research work. Then, once the JLA art requests were finished, Mike Hummel contacted me within ten days to start on the newest set: the X-Men expansion. He gave me a list of reference items I needed to procure, all comic-related (X-Men issues and the various X-Men encyclopedias), and supplied me with the Avengers spoiler, and sent me off to work. (At that point, the Avengers set was not yet released, and I needed the spoiler to ensure that there wouldn’t be too much crossover between sets.) This was an exciting new challenge—to work on teams that already existed, and therefore help to expand and flesh out those teams.

When working with a different designer, you need a fair amount of flexibility and adaptability. Every lead designer has a different way of working, and needs different things from the researchers, so you have to meet a whole new set of demands that differ from previous tasks.

With the X-Men set, the teams were set out, but the rosters were incomplete. Mike provided me with the details of where he wanted to go with them, meaning the story arcs that he wanted to cover, and some info about which characters would be in current or upcoming X-Men story arcs, and therefore would need to appear in the set.

The first thing to do was compile a checklist of 25-plus characters per team. Several characters had to be there—including, at Mike’s insistence, a certain Morlock named Hump (I wonder why?)—but the majority of the rosters were still blank. Mike also wanted a set number of locations, plot twists, and equipment to be chosen and named, although many of those names would become placeholders and end up being modified or replaced outright.

The next step was to flesh out the outline of the rosters. Mike had his own roster ideas and would amalgamate what I sent him with his list of essentials, but first the researcher has to find out what the lead designer wants and then dig up all the necessary details. So my first major task was to take a half-hour and pick Mike’s brain with a handful of questions. I did some basic research, came up with preliminaries for the rosters, wrote out every question I could think of, and then jumped on MSN and talked to Mike. The Brotherhood was focused on the Acolytes at that point—did he want Freedom Force as well? Should Joseph be an Acolyte or X-Man? With Astonishing X-Men’s rising popularity, should their roster be included in the X-Men? How many generic characters (unaffiliated and so on) should we include? This is part of what I mentioned in the JLA articles—since the lead designer has specific ideas about the flavor and direction of the set, it is up to the researcher to discover that information so his research will head in the same direction. In addition, I made sure to go to Mike with a lot of ideas written down and a set list of questions.

Buried within Mike’s responses was some really good advice:

“Remember to have your PTs [plot twists] cover a range of time frames—some late ’70s stuff, a lot of ’80s stuff, early ’90s stuff, and the most recent stuff.”

This is important, and useful to keep in mind for character selections, as you have to make sure to include the fan favorites even as you aim to make the set as fresh and contemporary as possible. It also means expanding your research into territories that may not even make it into the set. Reference books really help with this—while the X-Men Encyclopedias are not comprehensive, they helped to fill out rosters and gave me a quick-find reservoir of information that saved me digging through a hundred issues until I found the correct one. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to at least skim through those issues at some point, but you don’t have to keep paging back through them and trying to remember which issue had the Image Inducer in it and in which issue it was that the Avalon Space Station fell to Earth.

Since the X-Men and Brotherhood teams already had full rosters from the Marvel Origins set, it meant delving deeply into the relevant story arcs in order to fill up their rosters with the least amount of crossover. Staple characters are always going to get new versions, which we need to make as fresh and exciting as possible. This means coming up with different versions of characters that already have three to five versions, and keeping those versions aligned with the flavor and story arcs encompassed in this new set, while keeping them distinct from their previous incarnations. This is not an easy task, as it means that you have to maintain a hundred-plus character cards, and then an additional hundred-plus non-character cards, in your head at all times. I imagine this will only get tougher as time goes by and these teams eventually get redone. At that point, we’ll have to come up with fresh rosters once again, but with twice as many ideas already used—or more!

In addition, you can’t become attached to your ideas. For one, your favorite characters can get shafted, no matter how much you plead and beg. One of first things Toby Wachter told me when he took over Metagame.com was that you often need to ignore your inner fanboy in order to be an effective employee. He is absolutely correct in this sentiment. You can still be a fan, but only on your own time. When you’re on the company’s dime, even as a freelancer or contractor, it isn’t about you. It’s the old adage about mixing business and pleasure: you have to learn to separate them. So when I go to a Sneak Preview, I can be a fanboy with the rest of them. I can maintain my collection when I’m not working. But when it comes to my work, I have to be as impartial as possible. So while I can try to push my ideas, I have to prepare myself for the “No” that might—and often does—come.

It’s likely that many of my colleagues think of me as a pain as it is due to my inherent fanboy nature at times (just ask Mike about my whining about the Marauders). But it’s very important to realize that your specific interpretation of the comic book universe is not the only one. It’s impossible to please everyone. The same goes for art requests—maybe the cards don’t hit the flavor exactly as you think they should in your opinion as the World’s Most Massively Huge Morlock Fan, but, to be honest, this game hits the flavor of the comics and the characters like nothing I’ve ever seen. We all have our own interpretations that we hold each card up to, and some of us have very high expectations, but that doesn’t mean our interpretations are right, or that there is no room to move within those interpretations.

The X-Men set was an interesting one to research, as the continuity was all X-Men, and therefore almost completely confined to X-Men comics. Encyclopedias aside, my research materials were almost exclusively Uncanny X-Men issues, save for a handful of New Mutants issues and the Firestar miniseries for the Hellions, X-Factor issues that tied into the Mutant Massacre (along with a few other single issues from Power Pack, Thor, and so forth), (New) X-Men issues that featured the Acolytes and Hellfire Club, and the new Astonishing X-Men series. Compared to the vast variety of comics I usually have to read to work on a set, this was much more focused.

However, there were a few things that made it a little harder—primarily, the introduction of traits. This meant specifically categorizing characters into one of three traits (Energy, Mental, and Physical), assessing which trait a character should be if they could fall under multiple ones (this choice was made for the specific version of the character), and making sure that the roster of each team was as balanced among the three as possible.

The whole process took about two weeks, from the moment I was assigned the research to the moment I sent Mike my final list of cards—just under 300 card names in total, including all of the blue, green, and gray. The deadlines are always tight—especially with lead designers who like to work top-down so that they can get the design work rolling as quickly as possible with the basic cards already set out in front of them. Many ideas got shifted, like Image Inducer becoming a generic equipment instead of an X-Men one; some of the focus on certain areas was diminished (we got the Astonishing lineup but lost cards like Ord and Benetech Laboratories); some of my favorite card names were kept (Boot to the Head and Join the Club!) and some weren’t (Blast ’Em from the Sky, Hellfire and Brimstone, and, my personal favorite, OW!OW!OW!OW!OW!OW!, the dialogue from the time Blob got sent flying by Juggernaut in Uncanny X-Men #218). The last one was a . . . erm . . . long shot, indeed, though it reminds me of my all-time favorite placeholder name for a Vs. card: Danny Mandel’s Marvel Knights plot twist, Sai of Relief.

NEXT WEEK: X-Men art requests—a new process. And what is that “flavor text,” anyhow? Where does it come from?

Questions? Queries? Comments? Send ’em along and I’ll try to get them answered in the column! Email me at Kergillian (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Also known by his screen name Kergillian, Ben Kalman has been involved in the Vs. community since Day One. He started the first major online community, the Vs. Listserv, through Yahoo! Groups, and it now boasts well over 1,900 members. For more on the Yahoo! group, go to http://web.archive.org/web/20070609092853/http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Marvel_DC_TCG

(Metagame Archive) Infinite Crisis Preview: Adrian Chase Vigilante, Street Justice

Justin Gary

As lead designer of Infinite Crisis, I got to write the first preview for the set, and now I’ve taken the responsibility of writing the last one. It was very difficult to decide which cards to reveal and which ones to leave for a surprise at the Sneak Preview tomorrow, but I hope at this point that you’re all as excited as I am about what’s in store. Who knows—maybe if you’re good, I’ll include an extra preview in this article.

Now, on to the card . . .

 

Adrian Chase ◊ Vigilante represents the old guard of Checkmate. In order to flesh out the team more fully, we included a lot of characters from the 80’s comic book era, and Vigilante is one of the cooler ones. He also introduces the last new keyword from Infinite Crisis: backup. 

Backup powers are activated abilities that must be used during the build phase. Many backup effects make other characters more powerful, so backup allows you to combine the abilities of multiple smaller characters to make one character stronger. This mechanic fits Checkmate perfectly, because it allows the non–super powered members of the team to combine forces when taking on their enemies.

I knew what power I wanted for Vigilante as soon as I saw his art. This is one of my favorite pieces in the set, and it imparts the flavor of Vigilante guarding from the rooftops and seeking revenge on anyone who dares to stun one of his allies. In the comics, Adrian Chase was a district attorney who was building a case against the mob. When his investigation got too deep, the mob planted a car bomb that killed his wife and child. Enraged and crazed by the loss of his family, Adrian donned the Vigilante mask and proceeded to mete out his own form of justice. Vigilante is one of only two costumed operatives who have been utilized by Checkmate. (Hint: The other one also appears in this set.)

Vigilante’s power represents his sense of justice—if you hurt one of his friends, he’ll hurt you. This is more than just flavor, however. The huge potential power of letting your smallest character stun any attacker is not to be underestimated. Vigilante is reminiscent of Sinestro, Green Lantern of Korugar, who was a real powerhouse from the Green Lantern set. While Vigilante isn’t quite as powerful as Sinestro, he is able to influence the board a full two turns earlier, creating difficult attack decisions for your opponent. In addition, Vigilante’s power works even if he becomes stunned during combat, so unlike with Sinestro, you can be secure that Vigilante’s power will be effective.

As with all of the backup powers, Adrian presents you with a difficult choice. Since he is a concealed character, you will often be inclined to attack with him instead of exhausting for his effect. This kind of tension creates interesting decision points in the game and helps balance out Adrian’s powerful ability. But, as always, it’s a lot more fun to cheat the disadvantage rather than to play around it. After all, why not get your free stun and then attack as well? Try teaming-up Checkmate and JSA to get access to the powerful location The Rock of Eternity, which allows you both to use your backup characters and then attack with them!

Even without teaming-up, Infinite Crisis introduces ways to help you get the most out of Vigilante. He works much better when you can control which of your characters are visible and which are hidden, and Checkmate has such a tool in Rook Control.

 

With Rook Control, you can move Vigilante into the visible area and use his power on himself while simultaneously protecting one of your more vulnerable characters. Rook Control highlights another one of Checkmate’s chess themes, allowing you to “castle” one of your kings into the hidden area for protection. Checkmate makes excellent use of locations as a resource, and even single copies of narrow-purpose locations can be very valuable for the team when searched for by cards like Ahmed Samsarra, White King.

That’s it for Metagame.com’s Infinite Crisis previews. Tomorrow is the big day for Sneak Previews, and you can find your local tournament here. The excitement from these events cannot be overstated, as you will finally have an opportunity to put all of the previewed cards into context and really get a feel for the new set. I promise that lots of exciting cards are as yet unrevealed, including two versions of Captain Marvel, a powerful DC-only plot twist, and many dual-affiliated characters for your favorite legacy teams. Don’t miss out! As lead designer of Infinite Crisis, I got to write the first preview for the set, and now I’ve taken the responsibility of writing the last one. It was very difficult to decide which cards to reveal and which ones to leave for a surprise at the Sneak Preview tomorrow, but I hope at this point that you’re all as excited as I am about what’s in store. Who knows—maybe if you’re good, I’ll include an extra preview in this article.

 

Now, on to the card . . .

 

 

Adrian Chase ◊ Vigilante represents the old guard of Checkmate. In order to flesh out the team more fully, we included a lot of characters from the 80’s comic book era, and Vigilante is one of the cooler ones. He also introduces the last new keyword from Infinite Crisis: backup. 

 

Backup powers are activated abilities that must be used during the build phase. Many backup effects make other characters more powerful, so backup allows you to combine the abilities of multiple smaller characters to make one character stronger. This mechanic fits Checkmate perfectly, because it allows the non–super powered members of the team to combine forces when taking on their enemies.

 

I knew what power I wanted for Vigilante as soon as I saw his art. This is one of my favorite pieces in the set, and it imparts the flavor of Vigilante guarding from the rooftops and seeking revenge on anyone who dares to stun one of his allies. In the comics, Adrian Chase was a district attorney who was building a case against the mob. When his investigation got too deep, the mob planted a car bomb that killed his wife and child. Enraged and crazed by the loss of his family, Adrian donned the Vigilante mask and proceeded to mete out his own form of justice. Vigilante is one of only two costumed operatives who have been utilized by Checkmate. (Hint: The other one also appears in this set.)

 

Vigilante’s power represents his sense of justice—if you hurt one of his friends, he’ll hurt you. This is more than just flavor, however. The huge potential power of letting your smallest character stun any attacker is not to be underestimated. Vigilante is reminiscent of Sinestro, Green Lantern of Korugar, who was a real powerhouse from the Green Lantern set. While Vigilante isn’t quite as powerful as Sinestro, he is able to influence the board a full two turns earlier, creating difficult attack decisions for your opponent. In addition, Vigilante’s power works even if he becomes stunned during combat, so unlike with Sinestro, you can be secure that Vigilante’s power will be effective.

 

As with all of the backup powers, Adrian presents you with a difficult choice. Since he is a concealed character, you will often be inclined to attack with him instead of exhausting for his effect. This kind of tension creates interesting decision points in the game and helps balance out Adrian’s powerful ability. But, as always, it’s a lot more fun to cheat the disadvantage rather than to play around it. After all, why not get your free stun and then attack as well? Try teaming-up Checkmate and JSA to get access to the powerful location The Rock of Eternity, which allows you both to use your backup characters and then attack with them!

 

Even without teaming-up, Infinite Crisis introduces ways to help you get the most out of Vigilante. He works much better when you can control which of your characters are visible and which are hidden, and Checkmate has such a tool in Rook Control.

 

 

With Rook Control, you can move Vigilante into the visible area and use his power on himself while simultaneously protecting one of your more vulnerable characters. Rook Control highlights another one of Checkmate’s chess themes, allowing you to “castle” one of your kings into the hidden area for protection. Checkmate makes excellent use of locations as a resource, and even single copies of narrow-purpose locations can be very valuable for the team when searched for by cards like Ahmed Samsarra, White King.

 

That’s it for Metagame.com’s Infinite Crisis previews. Tomorrow is the big day for Sneak Previews, and you can find your local tournament here. The excitement from these events cannot be overstated, as you will finally have an opportunity to put all of the previewed cards into context and really get a feel for the new set. I promise that lots of exciting cards are as yet unrevealed, including two versions of Captain Marvel, a powerful DC-only plot twist, and many dual-affiliated characters for your favorite legacy teams. Don’t miss out!

(Metagame Archive) Free Stuff at the Infinite Crisis Sneak Preview!

By Anand Khare

  Unless you’ve fallen off the face of the Earth for the past few weeks, you should have noticed a certain theme developing on Metagame.com. Daily card previews and community hype have been building for a while now, and it all adds up to one thing: Infinite Crisis is here! The new set that you’ve heard so much about will be making its debut this weekend at worldwide Sneak Preview events.

I take it that most of you have attended Sneak Previews before. For those of you who haven’t, let me tell you, they are spectacular. As a player who has played in and written about every type of event from the Pro Circuit on down, I can tell you unequivocally that Sneak Previews are pretty much as good as it gets. There are a bunch of reasons for this. First of all, it’s your very first in-depth look at the set. Besides being a ton of fun, this also serves to be a great equalizer. Even if you haven’t picked up the game in a while, you’re on the same footing as a professional who plays every day. That brings me to the second reason why Sneak Previews are so much fun: they bring different types of players together. Cutthroat competitors, comic book fans, and casual players alike can have a great time checking out the new cards and picking up some swag. That’s the third thing that makes Sneak Previews great, by the way—free stuff. There’s a lot of it. Take these exclusive Extended Art foil cards, for example:

 

So you walk into your local Sneak Preview and pick up five packs of Infinite Crisis so you can build a Sealed deck. You’re getting ready to sit down and then—bam! Superman. That’s right, folks. You get this hot little Extended Art card just for signing up to play.

But that’s not all. Let’s say you play a few rounds, and you do pretty well. Guess what? The top players in each event will also walk away with one of these:

 

No, I won’t tell you what a Fate Artifact is. I will tell you that you should trade for a set of them in between rounds. That reminds me . . . I forgot to mention trading. Sneak Previews are an excellent time to trade for good cards from the new set, allowing you to get a jump on owning decks that other people don’t even know exist yet. There’s nothing quite like figuring out that a brand-new card is going to be good and then trading for four before the expansion’s even released.

But, I digress. Let’s get back to you, after you’ve done well at the Sneak Preview. You also get to walk away with a deckbox.

. . . and maybe a few of these . . .

. . . and this incredibly cool playmat. . .

. . . and hey, why not? If Upper Deck wants to shower us with swag, I’m certainly not going to be the one to question it. Oh, one other thing—even if you don’t finish near the top of your Sneak Preview, there’s still a chance that you’ll walk away with a deck box, shirt, or playmat. These door prizes will only be given out to players in the first tournament of the day at each event, so make sure you show up on time! For more details on prize distribution, check out Ben Drago’s announcement here.

Oh, and let’s not forget the side events. There will be side events with prizes of their own. In fact, there’s so much stuff going on at each Sneak Preview, it’s tough to keep track. The bottom line is this: show up. Whether you’re new to the game, a pro, or a wannabe big-shot, or even if you haven’t picked up a card in a while, the Infinite Crisis Sneak Preview is the only place you want to be this weekend. See you there!

(Metagame Archive) Prizes at the Sneak Preview

By Ben Drago

Want to find out how we’re awarding the prizes at North American Sneak Preview tournaments? Read on . . .

 

The Nitty Gritty

In the U.S. and Canada, 50% of the playmats and deck boxes will be randomly given away as door prizes after the first round. The number of prizes is determined by attendance—the more players at a location, the larger the prize pool. This way, you have an equal chance to win no matter what event you attend. Remember, door prizes will only be given out to players in the first tournament of the day at each event, so make sure you come early!

At the end of a tournament, the remaining playmats and deck boxes will be given to the top finishers. The playmats will be awarded until they run out, and then the deck boxes. Each player eligible for a playmat or deck box will also win the exclusive Extended Art Sneak Preview prize promo.

There are two rules for these prizes:

1) No player can win two of the same prize (deck box or playmat) by winning one as a door prize and then a second one by his or her final standing.

2) If a player would win a second copy of the same prize, he or she still gets the EA prize promo, but the deck box or playmat will be randomly given away to a player who played in the last round but did not finish high enough to win a deck box or playmat. Prizes do not “roll down” for any reason.

For example, a Sneak Preview tournament with 32 players will have a prize pool of 8 playmats and 8 deck boxes. Four of each of them will be given out randomly after the first round. At the end of the tournament, the first- through fourth-ranked players will each receive a playmat and the EA prize promo, and the fifth- through eighth-ranked players will each win a deck box and the EA prize promo. If the player in third place won a playmat as a door prize, that playmat will instead be randomly given away to a player who played in the last round and finished ninth or lower. The third place player will still keep the EA prize promo and the playmat that he or she won as a door prize.

Some of you have asked me, “Why make this so complicated?” Our philosophy is really simple—half of these awesome prizes go to players who do well, and the other half go to people who showed up and just had a good time. I originally proposed that the door prizes be given away at the end of the tournament to players who didn’t win a prize based on their performance. This meant that players would have to stay the whole time to get a chance to win them, which would hurt people who had to leave early if an event ran long. While our method described above is a little clunky, it does the same thing as if we’d waited until the end.

Sneak Previews are for everyone, from brand-new Vs. players to those who have a couple of Pro Circuits under their belts, and the way we give away prizes is designed to make everyone happy. Competitive players have a number of other tournaments, like Pro Circuit Qualifiers and $10,000 Championships, where they can earn cash and invites to the Pro Circuit, but for Sneak Previews, I wanted to reward not only the top finishers, but also the fans of the game.

For regions other than North America, please contact your local organizer for information about Sneak Preview tournaments and prizes.

(Metagame Archive) Infinite Crisis Preview: Zazzala Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive

By Michael Barnes

I’ll let you in on a little secret: writing for Metagame.com is hard work! The writers at Metagame are held to a very high standard; in order to write for our illustrious website, the columnists must have both proven Vs. credentials and an ability to articulate his or her thoughts into a typewritten format. Those sound like simple enough tasks until you realize that the penalties for failure are severe. In my first month of writing for Metagame, I accidentally misspelled Toby Wachter’s last name as “Watcher.” As punishment, he forced me to type, “I shall never, ever, ever misspell my boss’s last name again” one million times.*

To be fair, though, Toby does have a tough job in trying to manage the variety of personalities that inhabit the pages of Metagame. Any person who has to put up with me, Rian Fike, Shane Wiggans, and Tim Willoughby must have near-infinite patience.** And that’s only on the Vs. System side—I hear that those Yu-Gi-Oh! writers are really nuts! Suffice it to say, Toby is a real glutton for punishment.

You may have noticed that I seem to be fairly focused on the topic of punishment. I’d like to say that this is because I’ve been deeply immersed in Dostoevsky novels, or perhaps, Marvel Knights cards named after these novels. But the truth is that it is a thinly veiled effort on my part to lead up to our preview card. You might have noticed from all of the sneak previews to date that the Villains United team has an underlying theme of “vengeance” or “retribution.” This theme presents some interesting possibilities for deckbuilding, as your cards are effectively active on either initiative. When you control the initiative, your characters will be attacking for oodles of damage. When your opponents control the initiative, your cards can potentially make them regret attacking.

This, of course, is the basis behind today’s preview card. May I present the newest incarnation of Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee:

A little history about Zazzala and her role in the Villains United: Zazzala is the leader of a world named Korll, a giant “beehive” planet, if you will. She had numerous run-ins with the Justice League throughout the 1960s and 70s. After being absent for a large part of the next two decades, Zazzala re-emerged to join Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang (hence her double stamping as a part of that team, as well). In the recent comic series “Villains United” (book #4, to be precise), it was revealed that Zazzala had joined the 200+ member roster of the new Secret Society of Super Villains, which is represented in the new set by the Villains United team.

Zazzala’s ultimate goal as the leader of Korll is to expand the presence of her species throughout the cosmos. To achieve this end, Zazzala will sacrifice anyone and anything. The Justice League has fought against Zazzala on numerous occasions to prevent her from enslaving humanity as drones for her ever-growing universal colony. Given her credo of sacrificing others to cultivate her ends, the effect of Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive is rather fitting.

When Toby sent me the email containing the information for this card, he said, “I think you’ll have fun with this.” And, oh, how right he was! My mind has been racing about how to abuse this card since the moment I saw it.

First, let’s take a look at the basics. Zazzala has decent stats at 5 ATK / 4 DEF. She also has concealed—optional, which can be very useful if you want to try to avoid getting her stunned. Finally, she has the team affiliations of both Villains United and the Injustice Gang.

This last feature is particularly important, as Zazzala works well in both team’s themes. We’ve already discussed how the Villains United team operates. For the Injustice Gang, she can be very effective in unison with Infernal Minions. Now, whenever your little Army guys get stunned, not only do you get a +1 ATK / +1 DEF counter, but your opponent also takes endurance loss.

Let’s talk a bit about options outside of the norm. Obviously, I like to write about how specific cards can be utilized in unique ways. I think there are a myriad of possibilities for Zazzala. First and foremost, it is important to note that Zazzala’s text specifies any character on the board that leaves play (including your opponent’s). This opens up a whole new set of options, as cards like Finishing Move, Total Anarchy, and Reign of Terror become pseudo-burn cards through her effect. Of course, you can double the fun with characters that remove both themselves and opposing characters from play. Captain Boomerang, George Harkness will send that opposing 2-drop back and hit your opponent for 4 endurance loss in the bargain. Dead-Eye may be suicidal, but your opponent will be the one mourning when he drags an opposing character to the KO’d pile with him while Zazzala takes a chunk out of your opponent’s endurance. And you thought Roy Harper ◊ Speedy was annoying before? Just wait until he and Zazzala start depleting endurance by rather large percentages every time he takes out an Anti-Green Lantern!

The first card that came to mind when I saw Zazzala was Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox. Here we have the perfect set of drones for Zazzala to lead, as a copy of Multiple Man in play can remove itself from play to be replaced by up to two more copies from the player’s hand. Now, not only is Mr. Madrox a source of board advantage, but he’s also a source of direct endurance loss. Heck, if you had Zazzala and a copy of Multiple Man in play along with twenty-four copies of Multiple Man in hand, you could conceivably do 50 endurance damage with just those cards!

Given my proclivity to build janky decks in my regular Metagame column, I thought it would be fun to see what I could do with today’s sneak preview card. So here is my effort at some burn madness featuring Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive; Multiple Man; and a supporting cast of other potent burn cards:

The Mistress and the Madroxes (60 cards)

Characters

17 Multiple Man, Jamie Madrox

4 Ape X, Xina

2 Electric Eve, Live Wire

1 Joystick, Janice Yanizesh

4 Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive

2 Golden Archer, Wyatt McDonald

1 John Henry Irons ◊ Steel, Steel-Drivin’ Man

Plot Twists

4 Die for Darkseid!

4 Enemy of My Enemy

4 Flying Kick

4 Glass Jaw

4 No Man Escapes the Manhunters

4 Trial by Fire

Equipment

4 Flamethrower

1 Thunder Jet

This deck—inspired by Shaun Hayward’s “High Voltage” deck that has been dominating Golden Age $10K events as of late—attempts to take advantage of the synergies between Zazzala and several other Silver Age burn cards. Electric Eve is great from the perspective that she can net you anywhere from 3–5 extra endurance damage per game. Ape X is an obvious choice as an equipment searcher. Joystick is huge, but probably not really effective until later turns when we’ve used all of our cards. Golden Archer is almost always a guaranteed 6 points of direct endurance damage. And John Henry Irons ◊ Steel is just as big as Albert Gaines ◊ Nuke when equipped with a Flamethrower, but he has the option of dealing out burn damage on off-initiative turns.

However, the key combos stem off Multiple Man. Since we’ll be removing Mr. Madrox from play pretty much every time we have the chance, he is a natural choice for a Flamethrower. When he becomes stunned, we can put Flamethrower’s effect on the chain before his effect (ensuring that his effect will resolve first) and get a fresh new Multiple Man in play. As far as attacking goes, we have enough pump in the deck that Multiple Man should be able to attack two to three spots up the curve without too much difficulty. Of course, if we have Zazzala in play, we could easily suicide our Multiple Men into our opponent for cheap burn damage. As Rian Fike would no doubt say, “That’s 1 for me and 2 for you!”

The obvious goal of the deck is to get Multiple Man and Zazzala into play on turn 3, then use our ATK pumps to let Jamie Madrox stun off our opponent’s board on turn 3 or 4 (depending on initiative). A single turn of that, followed by some direct attacks by our remaining characters, should bring our opponent close to 0. We can then use Golden Archer and Die for Darkseid! (which burns for 6 when Zazzala is in play) to put the game effectively out of reach.

I’m sure that the Infinite Crisis set will have other options available to make Zazzala an even bigger menace to our opponents. But we still have a few more days to see what else this new set has to offer. In the meantime, we can only wait and wonder in eager anticipation.

So, get ready for Infinite Crisis and get to a Sneak Preview this weekend at a store near you. And if your friends haven’t yet heard, be sure to tell them what the “buzz” is all about!

(Sorry . . . I couldn’t resist making just one bee joke!)

* Thank goodness for MS Word’s cut and paste option. Come to think of it, Toby was rather surprised when I finished typing after only fifteen minutes . . .

** I was recently asked who my favorite Vs. System “Tim” was. Tim Willoughby is tons of fun and probably rates slightly above Tim Batow. However, you must also take into account that Tim Willoughby is also twice the size of Tim Batow. So, pound for pound, there really isn’t anyone in the Vs. System better (or smaller, for that matter) than Tim Batow. I’ll let you in on a little secret: writing for Metagame.com is hard work! The writers at Metagame are held to a very high standard; in order to write for our illustrious website, the columnists must have both proven Vs. credentials and an ability to articulate his or her thoughts into a typewritten format. Those sound like simple enough tasks until you realize that the penalties for failure are severe. In my first month of writing for Metagame, I accidentally misspelled Toby Wachter’s last name as “Watcher.” As punishment, he forced me to type, “I shall never, ever, ever misspell my boss’s last name again” one million times.*

 

To be fair, though, Toby does have a tough job in trying to manage the variety of personalities that inhabit the pages of Metagame. Any person who has to put up with me, Rian Fike, Shane Wiggans, and Tim Willoughby must have near-infinite patience.** And that’s only on the Vs. System side—I hear that those Yu-Gi-Oh! writers are really nuts! Suffice it to say, Toby is a real glutton for punishment.

 

You may have noticed that I seem to be fairly focused on the topic of punishment. I’d like to say that this is because I’ve been deeply immersed in Dostoevsky novels, or perhaps, Marvel Knights cards named after these novels. But the truth is that it is a thinly veiled effort on my part to lead up to our preview card. You might have noticed from all of the sneak previews to date that the Villains United team has an underlying theme of “vengeance” or “retribution.” This theme presents some interesting possibilities for deckbuilding, as your cards are effectively active on either initiative. When you control the initiative, your characters will be attacking for oodles of damage. When your opponents control the initiative, your cards can potentially make them regret attacking.

 

This, of course, is the basis behind today’s preview card. May I present the newest incarnation of Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee:

  

 

 

A little history about Zazzala and her role in the Villains United: Zazzala is the leader of a world named Korll, a giant “beehive” planet, if you will. She had numerous run-ins with the Justice League throughout the 1960s and 70s. After being absent for a large part of the next two decades, Zazzala re-emerged to join Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang (hence her double stamping as a part of that team, as well). In the recent comic series “Villains United” (book #4, to be precise), it was revealed that Zazzala had joined the 200+ member roster of the new Secret Society of Super Villains, which is represented in the new set by the Villains United team.

 

Zazzala’s ultimate goal as the leader of Korll is to expand the presence of her species throughout the cosmos. To achieve this end, Zazzala will sacrifice anyone and anything. The Justice League has fought against Zazzala on numerous occasions to prevent her from enslaving humanity as drones for her ever-growing universal colony. Given her credo of sacrificing others to cultivate her ends, the effect of Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive is rather fitting.

 

When Toby sent me the email containing the information for this card, he said, “I think you’ll have fun with this.” And, oh, how right he was! My mind has been racing about how to abuse this card since the moment I saw it.

 

First, let’s take a look at the basics. Zazzala has decent stats at 5 ATK / 4 DEF. She also has concealed—optional, which can be very useful if you want to try to avoid getting her stunned. Finally, she has the team affiliations of both Villains United and the Injustice Gang.

 

This last feature is particularly important, as Zazzala works well in both team’s themes. We’ve already discussed how the Villains United team operates. For the Injustice Gang, she can be very effective in unison with Infernal Minions. Now, whenever your little Army guys get stunned, not only do you get a +1 ATK / +1 DEF counter, but your opponent also takes endurance loss.

 

Let’s talk a bit about options outside of the norm. Obviously, I like to write about how specific cards can be utilized in unique ways. I think there are a myriad of possibilities for Zazzala. First and foremost, it is important to note that Zazzala’s text specifies any character on the board that leaves play (including your opponent’s). This opens up a whole new set of options, as cards like Finishing Move, Total Anarchy, and Reign of Terror become pseudo-burn cards through her effect. Of course, you can double the fun with characters that remove both themselves and opposing characters from play. Captain Boomerang, George Harkness will send that opposing 2-drop back and hit your opponent for 4 endurance loss in the bargain. Dead-Eye may be suicidal, but your opponent will be the one mourning when he drags an opposing character to the KO’d pile with him while Zazzala takes a chunk out of your opponent’s endurance. And you thought Roy Harper ◊ Speedy was annoying before? Just wait until he and Zazzala start depleting endurance by rather large percentages every time he takes out an Anti-Green Lantern!

 

The first card that came to mind when I saw Zazzala was Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox. Here we have the perfect set of drones for Zazzala to lead, as a copy of Multiple Man in play can remove itself from play to be replaced by up to two more copies from the player’s hand. Now, not only is Mr. Madrox a source of board advantage, but he’s also a source of direct endurance loss. Heck, if you had Zazzala and a copy of Multiple Man in play along with twenty-four copies of Multiple Man in hand, you could conceivably do 50 endurance damage with just those cards!

 

Given my proclivity to build janky decks in my regular Metagame column, I thought it would be fun to see what I could do with today’s sneak preview card. So here is my effort at some burn madness featuring Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive; Multiple Man; and a supporting cast of other potent burn cards:

 

The Mistress and the Madroxes (60 cards)

 

Characters

17 Multiple Man, Jamie Madrox

4 Ape X, Xina

2 Electric Eve, Live Wire

1 Joystick, Janice Yanizesh

4 Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive

2 Golden Archer, Wyatt McDonald

1 John Henry Irons ◊ Steel, Steel-Drivin’ Man

 

Plot Twists

4 Die for Darkseid!

4 Enemy of My Enemy

4 Flying Kick

4 Glass Jaw

4 No Man Escapes the Manhunters

4 Trial by Fire

 

Equipment

4 Flamethrower

1 Thunder Jet

 

 

This deck—inspired by Shaun Hayward’s “High Voltage” deck that has been dominating Golden Age $10K events as of late—attempts to take advantage of the synergies between Zazzala and several other Silver Age burn cards. Electric Eve is great from the perspective that she can net you anywhere from 3–5 extra endurance damage per game. Ape X is an obvious choice as an equipment searcher. Joystick is huge, but probably not really effective until later turns when we’ve used all of our cards. Golden Archer is almost always a guaranteed 6 points of direct endurance damage. And John Henry Irons ◊ Steel is just as big as Albert Gaines ◊ Nuke when equipped with a Flamethrower, but he has the option of dealing out burn damage on off-initiative turns.

 

However, the key combos stem off Multiple Man. Since we’ll be removing Mr. Madrox from play pretty much every time we have the chance, he is a natural choice for a Flamethrower. When he becomes stunned, we can put Flamethrower’s effect on the chain before his effect (ensuring that his effect will resolve first) and get a fresh new Multiple Man in play. As far as attacking goes, we have enough pump in the deck that Multiple Man should be able to attack two to three spots up the curve without too much difficulty. Of course, if we have Zazzala in play, we could easily suicide our Multiple Men into our opponent for cheap burn damage. As Rian Fike would no doubt say, “That’s 1 for me and 2 for you!”

 

The obvious goal of the deck is to get Multiple Man and Zazzala into play on turn 3, then use our ATK pumps to let Jamie Madrox stun off our opponent’s board on turn 3 or 4 (depending on initiative). A single turn of that, followed by some direct attacks by our remaining characters, should bring our opponent close to 0. We can then use Golden Archer and Die for Darkseid! (which burns for 6 when Zazzala is in play) to put the game effectively out of reach.

 

I’m sure that the Infinite Crisis set will have other options available to make Zazzala an even bigger menace to our opponents. But we still have a few more days to see what else this new set has to offer. In the meantime, we can only wait and wonder in eager anticipation.

 

So, get ready for Infinite Crisis and get to a Sneak Preview this weekend at a store near you. And if your friends haven’t yet heard, be sure to tell them what the “buzz” is all about!

 

(Sorry . . . I couldn’t resist making just one bee joke!)

 

 

 

* Thank goodness for MS Word’s cut and paste option. Come to think of it, Toby was rather surprised when I finished typing after only fifteen minutes . . .

 

** I was recently asked who my favorite Vs. System “Tim” was. Tim Willoughby is tons of fun and probably rates slightly above Tim Batow. However, you must also take into account that Tim Willoughby is also twice the size of Tim Batow. So, pound for pound, there really isn’t anyone in the Vs. System better (or smaller, for that matter) than Tim Batow.

(Metagame Archive) Infinite Crisis Preview: Shazam, The Sorcerer

By Dave Humpherys

The Shadowpact team excels at fine tuning its endurance total. When playing them, you will often find your endurance total plummeting precariously. As you start putting yourself at this deficit, many of the Shadowpact team’s powers start working their best; the Shadowpact flirts with disaster. Many of the team’s cards help them to survive while on the brink, while others, like today’s preview card, pull an opponent down into the hole with them.

Shazam is the second team Champion you’ve had a chance to see from the Infinite Crisis set (the first was Deathstroke, previewed in Justin Gary’s article). Shazam has loyalty—reveal. In case you missed an explanation of this keyword in Antonino De Rosa’s preview of Ahmed Samsarra, it is a new take on the loyalty keyword where you can meet the condition of loyalty as you’ve known it, or you can meet the condition of revealing a character with the same affiliation from your hand or resource row (like you’ve seen on Kang, Kang Kong or Karla Sofen ◊ Meteorite, Celestial Power). It is a new level of team-stamping on characters, and you’re likely to see a lot more of it. Loyalty—reveal has the rules text, “If you don’t control a character that shares an affiliation with this card, then as an additional cost to recruit this card, reveal a character card from your hand or resource row that shares an affiliation with this card.”

Now, back to today’s preview card. Shazam can turn around some blowout games like nobody’s business. There are decks, like the recently emerging endurance-burning “High Voltage” deck, that can put you so far behind in a game that it is nearly impossible to make a comeback even if you’ve gained a huge advantage on the board. Once you’ve figured out how to design your deck to survive until turn 7, Shazam can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. And he can do it in a hurry! Even cards like Imperiex might take a couple of turns to finish off an opponent you left hanging out around 50 endurance, but Shazam can see to it that you end things here and now. There aren’t many characters that can effectively deal 50 or more endurance loss to an opponent in a single turn, and Shazam can do it without even breaking a sweat. He does so without attacking or even exhausting. If you like the feeling of a nice comeback, Shadowpact may be your team of choice.

In searching for preview cards, you might have run across Zatanna, Showstopper. Since she is a 6-cost character that turns endurance into cards, she can not only help you find a copy of Shazam if you haven’t drawn him, but she also makes sure your opponent won’t be happy with the new endurance total that Shazam hands out.

If you use Shazam’s power, your inability to play plot twists on turn 7 (or later) in the game is a legitimate concern. Fortunately, you will find that Shadowpact can draw off the powers of a number of characters and locations to provide many of the answers you’ll need at this point in the game. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve planned ahead for this turn, though. On turn 6 or sooner, make sure you play your Team-Ups and any other plot twists to search for characters such as Shazam or any power-ups you’ll want. Also be sure that you are using your powers and plot twists to stay alive and maintain a good board position, rather than worrying about your opponent’s endurance total in the least.

That’s it for my preview of Shazam. Before I go, I want to clear up a rules point you may have been wondering about for yesterday’s card, Katar Hol ◊ Hawkman, Eternal Hero. Katar Hol allows you to power-up a character by discarding a character card that shares an identity with an attacker or defender you control. The Infinite Crisis set is the first to make a character’s identity matter, so we’ve clarified the rules concerning identity. Here’s an excerpt from the Infinite Crisis FAQ:

A character’s printed identity follows the diamond after its name. Starting with this expansion, if a character’s name isn’t followed by a diamond, its printed name is also its identity in all zones. This rule also applies to cards from past expansions.

That means you can power-up Batman, Avatar of Justice with Azrael ◊ Batman, for example. You’ll see even more possibilities for exploiting a character’s identity with the rest of the Infinite Crisis expansion. Have fun at the Sneak Previews!