(Metagame Archive) Week in Review: May 17

By Anand Khare

Sit down. Take a deep breath. Are you ready? Good. Last week was, without a doubt, the busiest week Metagame has ever seen. Among the week’s features were no less than ten articles written by ten great writers, four official announcements, and one heckuva $10K. We’ve got two weeks until Pro Circuit San Francisco, and before that, I’ve got fifteen features to tell you about. Let’s get started!

The week began unassumingly enough with a single submission from Rian Fike on Monday. Rian’s Risk Vs. Reward delved into the usual schmorgasbord of topics, centering on several characters from Infinite Crisis. Power Girl, Earth 2 and Weather Wizard were examined, although not for their strategic applications—rather, Rian was more interested in the mythos behind those two characters. Their disjointed identities typify Crisis, and their histories are quite interesting.

Tuesday was the day that really kicked things off. First of all, there was an announcement from Toby. The extraordinairily popular collectors sets, first introduced last year, will be returning this fall. Both Infinite Crisis and Heralds of Galactus (the next set, for those not in the know) will be available, and they’ll both come boxed in original art cases with two tins, 130 sleevers, four packs, and a few Extended Art foils to boot! Keep an eye out for them in October.

In addition to Toby’s announcement, Metagame produced three articles. The first submission came from R&D’s Justin Gary, lead designer for Infinite Crisis. In this, the first of several articles about Crisis, Justin went over some of the fundamentals of the set. Among features largely new to Crisis are a relatively large number of cards that break the rules, less of an emphasis on linear mechanics, and several cards that were designed to be substitutes for Origins counterparts. Justin discussed at length why Crisis was given these unique characteristics.

The next article on the docket for Tuesday was the conclusion of Graham Van Leeuwen’s excellent tournament report. Graham provided a detailed account of the goings-on during the Draft portion of Pro Circuit Atlanta. He went into Day 2 with very little experience drafting JLA and still managed to post a very respectable finish. If you’ve ever considered attending a Pro Circuit, Graham’s report provides a good deal of insight from the perspective of a PC neophyte.

Tuesday’s final article came from Steve Garrett, who shared his pet deck—an X-Statix creation that he’s been cultivating since Marvel Knights. While acknowledging that this deck perhaps wasn’t the best around, Steve made a good case for pet decks everywhere. He also interviewed three professionals about their personal pet projects. I can tell you from experience that pretty much everyone’s got one of these just waiting for the right card to be printed to catapult an offbeat concept into a top-tier competitor.

Wednesday kicked off with a big announcement—the introduction of the Essential Collection. Basically, the Essential Collection is a way to introduce new heroes and stories to the game outside of the regular release schedule. Each Essential Collection release will feature two stand-alone, pre-constructed decks. Rather than being simple starter decks, though, these decks will be designed for tournament play. In addition, Essential Collection releases will cover universes other than the ones you’ve come to know so far in the Vs. System. The first Essential Collection release will be Hellboy, and it will come out early next year.

Also on Wednesday, we had two fine articles on Vs. System strategy. The first was from Michael Barnes, whose latest Breaking Ground centered on Phantom Zone. This week’s deck was even odder than usual, as Michael started off with his own pet creation of New Gods/Revenge Squad. To this odd mix he added a healthy dose of the Injustice Gang, and . . . well . . . let’s just say that the deck ended up looking quite interesting.

Wednesday’s other strategy submission was the second from Shane Wiggans. In this week’s installment of Theoretically Speaking, Shane tackled the topic of the chain. Now, if you hear the word “chain” and think of linked pieces of metal, this article is probably for you. The chain is the mechanism by which effects are prioritized in Vs. System and one of the most crucial parts of the game, but one which many players don’t understand. Shane did an admirable job of explaining how the chain works and providing a wealth of scenarios to illustrate how the chain functions in different circumstances.

Thursday featured two articles by two different writers on precisely the same topic. Alex Brown and Doug Tice, two accomplished professionals from opposite sides of the globe, both attended their local Infinite Crisis Sneak Preview events. They both thought the set was interesting enough to detail how they handled their Sealed Pack card pools. This is a good thing for you, especially if you’re planning to attend a Sealed Pack PCQ any time in the next few months. Alex and Doug may come from different countries, and their card pools were (naturally) completely different, but there were many common themes in the reasoning behind the way they constructed their decks.

Friday was, as per usual, reserved for Tim Willoughby. Tim talked about what’s sure to be a hot topic for years to come—the influence of Japan on Vs. System. As it so happens, there was a Japanese $10K this past weekend (more on that a little later). There’s a general feeling among TCG pros (myself included) that it’s only a matter of time before Japanese players start making a real mark on the Pro Circuit. Consider Tim’s article a brief introduction to the guys who will soon be bringing trophies home by the bagful.

Also on Friday was another huge announcement from Dave Humpherys. Two major rules changes were announced. The first was the errata’ing of Dr. Light, Master of Holograms to disallow using him multiple times per turn. This change fixes several impending problems, including a few neat infinite-combo decks in Golden Age. The second and more significant change was an alteration of the rules for uniqueness. From now on, uniqueness checks on equipment whenever a unique equipment enters play and not only when it’s recruited. This seemingly minor alteration has the effect of neutralizing the Fate Artifact deck, which could reliably attack multiple times with a 20 ATK / 20 DEF character on the fourth turn. This build, which was probably one of the top five decks in Silver Age, simply doesn’t function with that little rules loophole closed.

The week closed out on Saturday with Ben Kalman’s second article about X-Men set design. In this article, he covered art and art requests and highlighted a few of the more interesting pieces that made it into the set.

Oh, there was one last thing . . . $10K Tokyo 2006! This tournament was Japan’s first real shot at Marvel Modern Age and the first Constructed $10K the country has seen. Many were expecting some new tech out of this tournament, but in an interesting turn, it ended up being a close mirror of Pro Circuit Atlanta. Like Atlanta, the Top 8 featured Squadron, X-Men control, and Faces. Also like Atlanta, two different Squadron decks met in the finals. Yuuta Takami took home the trophy, demonstrating that good play with a straightforward deck can be as successful a route to victory as an innovative creation. Although he won’t be able to attend PC: San Francisco, you can be sure that several of Yuuta’s countrymen will be there in his stead.

Speaking of the PC . . . yeah, it’s only two weeks away. As usual, you’re unlikely to hear much about it until it’s almost upon us, as all of the major testing teams keep their top decks tightly under wraps. Look for previews here on Metagame in the coming weeks. Until the tournament and the debut of Silver Age, things should be relatively quiet. That doesn’t mean there won’t be things happening elsewhere in the Vs. community, though. If there’s something interesting going on that you’d like to tell me about, feel free to drop me a line at anand@metagame.com.

Until next week . . .

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