(Metagame Archive) Risk Vs. Reward: This is How the Crystal Ball Bounces

By Rian Fike

This is it, the final countdown. Pro Circuit San Francisco starts on Friday. Are you ready?

Even though I will be remaining in Miami, I am ready for this. I just upgraded my online connection so that I can refresh the tournament coverage at light speed. All my lucky charms are prepared to charge and focus on any player who chooses to play an Anti-Green Lantern deck. I have consulted my crystal ball.

I don’t really have a crystal ball, but I do know how they work. They are radio tuners. In theory, if you have a big enough crystal ball and it is an absolutely perfect sphere, it will vibrate at every possible frequency. If you can translate the pulsating waves that are generated from the crystal tuner, you can see the future.

Looking ahead a few days, this is what I see on the horizon for the Vs. System Pro Circuit. The images are a bit fuzzy, and I surely wouldn’t suggest taking these prognostications to the bank, but it should be fun to see how accurate my imagination can be.

I see the final table on Day 3. There are two players left. One is very tall, and one is fairly short. One has been in a Pro Circuit Top 8 before, and one has not. They are both playing aggressive decks. The short player’s deck uses machetes; it is a KO rush deck. That’s the one that wins.

When I say the codeword and shake myself from the trance, I realize that this vision did not specifically show an Anti-Green Lantern deck on Day 3. I hope it was just lost in the blurry details; we will look closer later in this article. This may be the best chance that a deck based on 1-cost Army characters has ever had to become part of a Pro Circuit championship.


Our mythological Anti-Green Lanterns are defective, and that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. The technology that was stolen to create their evil rings was incomplete; they cannot survive for more than twenty-four hours. Not only do we have a perfect translation of that myth in the text box of their Vs. System card, but we also might see them flare up and die quickly in the Pro Circuit metagame.


Nian Perion

4th Place

$10K San Francisco


15 Anti-Green Lantern

4 Chomin

4 Shadow-Thief

4 Xallarap

4 Felix Faust

2 Fiero

1 Commissioner Gordon

Plot Twists

4 Mega-Blast

4 Cosmic Conflict

4 Trial by Fire

4 Banished to the Anti-Matter Universe

3 Flying Kick

4 The Ring has Chosen

3 Emerald Dawn

That deck is the highest money-winning Anti-Green Lantern deck of all time. It is obviously a Golden Age construction, but it only loses eight cards when it adjusts for the Silver Age of Pro Circuit San Francisco. Like Jerome Jesus’s original build that exploded onto the scene exactly six months ago at $10K Bremen, Nian Perion’s temporary swarm relies on Felix Faust to purchase soulful fistfuls of little pink beatsticks from the KO’d pile. Whether finishing the game on the fourth turn with three free twenty-four-hour mini-zombies or burning the last bit of your opponent away with Fiero on turn 5, Anti-Green Lanterns can get things finished fast. Unfortunately, it seems that their day in the Pro Circuit sun might be finished before it ever gets started.


Why won’t an Anti-Green Lantern deck win $40,000 in San Francisco? I will turn the prediction channel to another station for that. Let’s tune in to the crystal ball of one of the most celebrated and fairly short Pro Circuit players in the game. (Sorry, Tim Batow. Even though you may be right about this weekend’s metagame, I don’t think it was you that I saw in the finals.)

This is what Aquaman’s mischievous twin had to say about the chances of Anti-Green Lantern decks for Pro Circuit San Francisco. Take this with a grain of salt; for all we know, he may be trying to sound a false alarm to skew the environment toward a secret deck that has problems beating weenie rush.

“Any deck based upon 1-drops cannot win in the Silver Age environment.  is too abundant. Using one Mikado and Mosha against AGL will prevent 11 endurance loss (2 from Chomin, and 9 from the Xallarap that won’t be staying around for the next turn). The damage prevented can be less if you play a version with Tooth and Nail / Locked in Combat / Blinding Rage to stun Xallarap and an early AGL to keep them around.

“AGL will dominate anything unprepared for it. Against anything with a game plan, such as a lone Mikado and Mosha to Enemy of My Enemy for, AGL will already start at a disadvantage. Other cards (characters with high DEF, such as Malvolio, Hawkeye, Oliver Queen, etc.) will further hurt AGL’s matchup against that deck. Simply put, almost everything in the Silver Age environment has cards to tech against AGL and other rush decks.”

Whether that is an honest warning from the inside of one of the top three playtesting teams in the game or a red herring on parade, it is something of which the brave Anti-Green Lantern pilot should be aware. It will be interesting to see when the dust settles whether Tim Batow’s competitive crystal shone true or not. It seems real, and it seems terrifying for a weenie lover like me. Especially when “galtwish” posted this horrifying idea on the forums last week:

4 Mikado and Mosha

4 Slaughter Swamp

4 Poison Ivy, Deadly Rose

4 Wild Ride

44 Other cards  

Slaughter Swamp has always been scary to me, and now I don’t know if I will be able to sleep. If the majority of decks in San Francisco are planning to play bayou voodoo with Mikado and Mosha like that, then Anti-Green Lantern decks are in true danger. I guess we need to wait until Friday to see if the rumors are accurate, but by then I will have chewed my nails to the bone.

Shifting back to the crystal vision of the final table, let’s try to nail down some more specifics. When I re-focus on the tall player who I saw battling for the crown, it looks like it might be one of three people:

1.      Kyle Dembinski

2.      Ian Estrin

3.      Mark Fidrych

That one is like one of those easy standardized tests where two of the answers are obviously bogus. Ian will surely be too busy bossing people around. The Bird may be my own major-league alter ego, but I seriously doubt that he has taken to dabbling in Vs. System. That leaves Kyle. He is perhaps as cool under pressure as anyone on the Pro Circuit. He has been tweaking the secret tech within the hallowed halls of The Donkey Club stables. He is ready, he will be playing the best deck, and he is my pick for runner-up.

Who does my crystal ball see as Vs. System’s eighth Pro Circuit champion? Well, we know he will be fairly short. We have already ruled out Tim Batow on the basis of him being Tim Batow. And then there were three:

1.      Mike Dalton

2.      Steve Horowitz

3.      Tommy Ashton

When I tried to flesh out the details on this one, my mind kept whispering “Janky Smurf, Janky Smurf, Janky Smurf . . .” I don’t really know what that means, and all three of the finalists know their tech way too well to run anything wacky in the PC. Tommy is really intense, really good, and really not the one in the vision. Steve is a threat every time he sits down at a table, no matter what little pictures are on the other side of the cards. Neither of them are the pick. It’s Mike Dalton for the big win.

So, now that we know who is going to be the next champion, what about the metagame? At the top of the pile, my sources say KO. Actually, “removed from the game” are the four words that make the loudest impression. I sense a bit of a repeat performance from Pro Circuit Amsterdam; Marvel Knights cards will make the difference. There will be a solid thirty percent of the environment focused on stretching games past turn 5, but the speed will have been tweaked beyond reach. Even though each round will extend well past time due to G’Lock mirror matches all day, Day 3 will be a matter of rush versus rush and the Pro Circuit will see a crazy-quick finish. One of the Top 8 decks will utilize direct endurance loss strategies, but it will burn itself out in the quarterfinals. My crystal ball rolls out this risky prediction for the Day 3 breakdown:

2 X-Faces KO

2 Squadron Supreme

2 Marvel Knights KO with a surprise

1 That New Burn Tech

1 Anti-Green Lantern

There will be some big strategy surprises, but none of them will climb into the Top 8. Look for a crazy Revenge Squad team-up and a Shadowpact / X-Men monstrosity. And make sure you look me up as soon as Pro Circuit San Francisco is over to laugh at how far away from the truth my crystal ball bounced.


Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes and he can sometimes see into the future for real. Like, he knows for sure that he will be drinking champagne if an Anti-Green Lantern deck wins Pro Circuit San Francisco. Send your predictions to rianfike@hattch.com


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