(Metagame Archive) Deck Profile: John-Michael Erlendson’s Ghostbusters

By Jason Grabher-Meyer

Wander anywhere around Pro Circuit San Fransisco today and no matter where you go or whom you speak to, you’ll quickly come across a conversation about a mysterious Parademon loop strategy. Referred to as anything from “That Loop Deck with Parademon” to “That [varied expletives] Callisto Thing,” it was making waves by round 2 earlier today.

Created by Toronto player John-Michael Erlendson and Aaron Weil (you might remember him as the player who went undefeated on Day 1 of Pro Circuit LA, only to scrub out on Day 2), the deck focuses on exploiting the interaction between Parademon, Apokoliptian Ally, and Callisto, Morlock Queen. It creates an infinite loop as early as turn 6 by repeatedly bringing a single copy of Parademon to the field and bouncing it back to the hand with Callisto in order to give all of your characters near-infinite ATK and DEF. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Enter combat on turn 6. Callisto’s effect can only be used in the combat phase, so this is “where the magic happens,” if you will.

Step 2: Stun a character of cost 4 or more, creating the necessary condition for the activation of Parademon’s from-hand effect.

Step 3: Activate Parademon’s effect a few billion times, repeatedly chaining it.

Step 4: As each effect resolves and brings Parademon to the field, respond by using Callisto to send the Parademon back to your hand. Each time you do, you’ll load your hand to resolve another one of the billion Parademon activations you declared while getting a +1 ATK / +1 DEF counter from Callisto to give to any of your characters.

Step 5: Win. The deck can actually do this in several different ways, but I’ll go into that later. 

Here’s what Erlendson’s behemoth, which he calls “Ghostbusters,”* looks like:

Characters

2 Artie, Arthur Maddicks

4 Fiddler, Isaac Bowin

4 Deadshot, Dead Aim

3 Tar Baby, Adhesive Ally

4 Healer, Life Giver

4 Parademon, Apokoliptian Ally

4 Storm, Leader of the Morlocks

1 Spider-Man, Peter Parker

3 Marrow, Gene Nation

1 White Tiger, Hector Ayala

4 Callisto, Morlock Queen

3 Scandal, Savage Spawn

1 Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive

Plot Twists

4 Enemy of My Enemy

4 Pleasant Distraction

4 Morlock Justice

4 Help Wanted, Team-Up

2 Millennium

Locations

4 House of Secrets

Its goal is to make it to turn 6 with a 4-drop or 5-drop that’s capable of evasion. That provides you with the necessary stun that Parademon requires. Callisto is also needed, and Help Wanted and Millennium provide the necessary Team-Up to turn your evader into a Secret Six character. From there, Morlock Justice ensures that even if you only have a single attacker, you’ll be able to make that billion or so damage stick.

Going down the list of characters, Artie and Healer maintain your board presence so that you don’t auto-lose in rush matchups. Tar Baby is insanely powerful tech, effectively rendering cards like The Phantom Stranger, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Slaughter Swamp, and Dr. Light useless. It’s especially valuable in the Killing Joke matchup, where it can remove Hope when she’s targeted for recursion by Dr. Light.

Storm, Leader of the Morlocks, and Spider-Man, Peter Parker fill your need for 4-drop evasion characters. Marrow and White Tiger can fill that role as well on turn 5, just in case you run into an effect like Removed from Continuity that robs you of your evader.

Fiddler is an extra body for defense, a discard for Help Wanted, and a free exhaustion for Millennium. Zazzala is the deck’s win condition when facing G’Lock. Whenever Parademon bounces back to your hand, Zazzala will burn the opponent for 2 endurance. Because Zazzala is concealed, she’ll usually last until turn 6 pretty reliably.

House of Secrets and Pleasant Distraction both keep the game going in the face of big attacks. “This deck is the Xavier’s Dream of the format,” explained Erlendson. “If you make it to turn 6, you win, but if your opponent can deal 50 by turn 5, it’s over. Needless to say, it’s important that I prevent that from happening.” Pleasant Distraction is particularly important for blocking offensive maneuvers from big attackers like Albert Gaines ◊ Nuke.

The deck’s hardest matchup is Killing Joke (the Justice League of Arkham discard deck), since it can force Erlendson to discard all of his cards long before turn 6. In that situation, Tar Baby is worth his weight in gold; it can ensure that Dr. Light never gets to retrieve a fallen copy of Hope, which often saves games. In testing, Erlendson had never thought of using Captain Boomerang, George Harkness as tech for the matchup. “It would have been really great to bounce away Poison Ivy, but I didn’t realize that until five minutes before decklists were to be handed in this morning.” The Captain also just gives you one more card to pad your hand with in the process of using his effect. It was a regrettable decision not to make the last minute switch, as the deck’s losses today have all come from Killing Joke.

House of Secrets is especially important in that matchup too. The ability to play Fiddler and then leave your hand padded with plenty of extra cards, paying a single resource point each turn for 4 endurance, is invaluable. It effectively allows Erlendson to negate whatever early-game offense Killing Joke shunts out while keeping his hand nice and big, which lets him get to the mid-game with his resources intact.

Matchup percentages are interesting. “It’s basically a hundred percent against G’Lock,” said Erlendson. “It handles Squadron really well, and its only major trouble comes from Killing Joke.” There he quotes the deck’s win percentage as a lowly twenty to thirty percent, but that could be improved upon with more matchup-specific tech.

The deck probably won’t carry Erlendson to Day 2 this weekend, but it could have serious potential with a bit of refinement. Erlendson appears to be the only person playing it here today, but it’s made a huge impact despite faring only moderately well. With a bit more experimentation toward dealing with Killing Joke, this strategy could dominate the upcoming Silver Age season.

* The deck is named Ghostbusters because the actual number of times that Erlendson loops Parademon’s effect is recorded on a little slip of paper he’s been carrying around all day. The number is a numerical phone code for the word “Ghostbusters,” where each letter in the word is given a value between zero and nine, based on its place on a touchtone phone.

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