(Metagame Archive) Infinite Crisis Preview: Mourn for the Lost

By Paul Ross

To quote a wise man who has also spent his fair share of time inside Cerebro, “Mutation: it is the key to our evolution.” Now, I may not have Patrick Stewart’s classically trained delivery (or his sexy bald scalp, for that matter), but I know a good opening when I hear one. And today’s preview column is all about evolution—the evolution of effect negation in Vs. System and the mutations it has gone through to arrive at today’s innovative preview card.

We’re going to start by looking at my list of the top 5 effect negation cards the game has produced so far. The standard disclaimer applies about my lack of Mad Play Skillz,™ but I have spent quite a bit of time in the vicinity of Good Players,™ and these are the cards I’ve noticed them playing. Without further ado . . .

Many players would probably nominate Fizzle as the great-granddaddy of negation effects, and that venerable card does indeed sit proudly near the top of this family tree. Introduced in DC Origins, Fizzle lets you negate any effect from a non-ongoing plot twist for the mere cost of discarding a Gotham Knights character card.

But would you believe that there were three (count them, three!) cards that could negate an effect before Fizzle was printed? And two of those Marvel Origins cards are on my list. Not So Fast also costs you a discard but is not burdened with team stamping (as Fizzle is). Instead, it is restricted to effects from non-ongoing plot twists with cost 1 or less. However, this restriction didn’t stop it from being played in record numbers back in the days before Overload was banned. Not So Fast could take out two of the three components of the lethal SNO trio (Savage Beatdown, Nasty Surprise, and Overload), so it was understandably popular during that era.

Also prominent at that time was Sentinel Mark II, which historically has probably seen more high-level tournament play than any other effect-negating card. But not just historically—as recently as this very month, it was carving up the field at $10K Auckland, earning Andrew Corney and his teched-out Underground Sentinels build a Top 8 berth. This robot is a bit of a rogue in this list because it’s the only inclusion that can’t target a plot twist effect, but that didn’t stop it from being the preferred turn 3 play of one of the most devastating decks in the history of the game.

Apart from Fizzle, DC Origins produced one other example of effect negation, and that card is regarded by some players as the best equipment ever printed. Utility Belt lets you activate the Gotham Knights character it equips to negate any payment effect from any type of card. And unlike every card listed so far, it doesn’t cost you a discard.

Detective Work was a close contender for the fifth and final slot, combining both the team-stamping of Fizzle and the cost restriction of Not So Fast while potentially drawing you an extra card rather than costing you a discard. In the end, however, that slot was claimed by a relative new kid on the block: Fatality, Emerald Assassin from the Justice League of America expansion. Wherever there are weenies and an engine to search them out and bring them into play, you will likely find at least one copy of this lethal lady. Even though her power seems painfully restrictive—not only must you KO a resource, but you can also have no more than four resources in play—the flexibility to take out either a payment effect (like Utility Belt can) or an effect from a non-ongoing plot twist (like Fizzle can) is frequently worth the sacrifice.

So that brings us to the end of our short trip down memory lane and to a quick trivia question before today’s grand unveiling: What is it that all of these fine cards cannot do?

 <Pause for thinking music>

Let me ask it another way: What plot twist effects have been untouchable to date?

<More thinking music>

Now let me ask it in its most famous form: Can Fizzle negate an effect from the non-ongoing part of an ongoing plot twist?

And the answer is no. In fact, none of these cards can. Fizzle, Not So Fast, and Detective Work can’t touch an effect from an ongoing plot twist, and Sentinel Mark II can’t touch a plot twist effect at all. Both Utility Belt and Fatality can stop a payment effect from an ongoing plot twist, but those always appear after the ongoing keyword.

But that was then, and this is now:

Behold! A plot twist that combines various aspects of the above cards while simultaneously introducing some completely new hotness. Like Fizzle or Not So Fast, it costs you a discard. But unlike those two cards, you can potentially replace that cost. Like Fizzle or Detective Work, it’s team stamped. But unlike those two cards, it’s only “lightly” stamped, so you can play it regardless of your deck’s affiliations. Like Not So Fast or Detective Work, it can negate any effect from a non-ongoing plot twist with cost 1 or less. So Nasty Surprise, for example, is still fair game. But, perhaps most interestingly, unlike those two cards, it sails deep into the uncharted waters of ongoing plot twists!

I count thirty-two ongoing plot twists with cost 1 or less printed so far (not to mention another eleven coming in Crisis), so let’s go over some of the more notable specimens to investigate what else Mourn for the Lost will bring to the table. We’ll start with the card that you’re probably going to hear mentioned more than any other card in the same breath as Mourn for the Lost. That card is Null Time Zone, and Mourn for the Lost is the first card that can take it down. Specifically, it can negate the effect that reads, “Choose a non-ongoing plot twist card name. Your opponents cannot play cards with that name this turn.”

Probably less important, but still educational, is the fact that Mourn for the Lost can also take aim at the “replace Null Time Zone” payment effect if your opponent exhausts a Kang Council character. (Rules stuff: Payment effects follow an arrow. They are “non-triggered” by definition.)

Banished to the Anti-Matter Universe is another stellar example. Mourn for the Lost lets you negate the effect that reads, “Choose an unequipped, unprotected character an opponent controls. If that character is visible, that opponent moves that character to his hidden area.” (More rules stuff: In the case of both Null Time Zone and Banished to the Anti-Matter Universe, a choice is made on resolution. Since you must negate an effect before it resolves, you must do so before the choice is made in each case. In other words, you can’t wait for the choice and then decide to negate based on that choice.)

And Unmasked provides yet another fine target effect: “Characters cannot become powered-up this turn.” Note, however, that you can’t target the effect that turns Unmasked face down again, because that effect is triggered. (More rules: A triggered effect is any that involves the words “when,” “whenever,” or “at the start of.” So Mourn for the Lost can’t target an effect from, say, Total Anarchy. And like other cards that negate effects, Mourn for the Lost can’t interfere with continuous powers like The New Brotherhood‘s, because they don’t use the chain.)

The things Mourn for the Lost can do that have never been done before make it really exciting from a rules perspective. And now it’s time for you guys to discover how exciting it’s going to be from a play perspective. Have fun at your Sneak Preview!

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