(Metagame Archive) Sealed Pack Clinic: Luke Bartter

Alex Brown

As of writing this, I am in San Francisco for the Pro Circuit. I’ve been able to make time for an article in between the trolley rides, the seafood, and Alcatraz. In an effort to give you the broadest Sealed Pack experience possible, I will not be featuring my own Sealed pool today, but rather a pool built and played by Luke Bartter. I managed to convince Luke and Scott Hunstad (who are both here for the PC as well) to show me how they go about their business when they play Infinite Crisis Sealed Deck. As you will find, they do some things much differently.

Luke cracked this pool:

Terry Sloane ◊ Mr. Terrific, Golden Age Gold Medalist

Stargirl, Courtney Whitmore

Kendra Saunders ◊ Hawkgirl, Eternal Heroine

Michael Holt ◊ Mr. Terrific, Renaissance Man

Batman, Earth 2

Richard Tyler ◊ Hourman, Man of the Hour

Carter Hall ◊ Hawkman, Eternal Champion

Wonder Woman, Earth 2

Power Girl, Earth 2

Black Adam, Ruthless Hero

The Phantom Stranger, Wandering Hero

Brothers in Arms

Double Play

Living Legacy

JSA Headquarters

Madame Xanadu, Cartomancer

Nightshade, Eve Eden

Rose Psychic, Ghost Detective

Zatanna, Magical Manipulator

Dr. Occult, Richard Occult

Nightshade, Shadow Siren

Black Alice, Lori Zechlin

The Phantom Stranger, Fallen Angel

Divination, Magic

Stepping Between Worlds, Magic

True Name, Magic

Aspiring Pawn, Army

Connie Webb, Knight

Retrieval Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army

Sasha Bordeaux, Knight

Christopher Smith ◊ Peacemaker, Obsessed Outlaw

Neutralization Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army

Amanda Waller, Queen

Elimination Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army

Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Knight

Huntress, Reluctant Queen

Knight Armor

Checkmate Armory

Brother Eye

Count Vertigo, Werner Vertigo

Dr. Light, Furious Flashpoint

Zazzala ◊ Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive

Deathstroke the Terminator, Lethal Weapon

Mr. Freeze, Brutal Blizzard

Dr. Psycho, Twisted Telepath

Black Adam, Lord of Kahndaq

3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

Baddest of the Bad

Amadeus Arkham, Architect of Insanity

Fiddler, Isaac Bowen

Lois Lane, Earth 2

Deadshot, Dead Aim

Catman, Thomas Blake

Parademon, Apokoliptian Ally
Animal Man, Buddy Baker

Obsidian, Todd James Rice

Pariah, Herald of Doom

Dodge the Bullet

Death from Above

Defend Yourself!

Deflection

Forbidden Loyalties, Team-Up

I Still Hate Magic!

Justice United, Team-Up

Revitalize

2 Watch the Birdie!

Rann

Thanagar

Helm of Nabu

Like me, Luke professed a desire for a 0-4-4-4-3-2-2 (1-drop to 7-drop) curve. He said that he hoped he would crack good Villains United cards, as he believes they are not only the deepest team, but they also have some of the best characters at their respective drops, like The Calculator, Evil Oracle, Mr. Freeze, Brutal Blizzard, and Alexander Luthor, Diabolical Double. Luke went further to say that he thinks the vengeance mechanic is very strong in Sealed play.

Luke immediately isolated the non-character cards from the character cards, sorting them into blue (plot twists), green
(locations), and grey (equipment), regardless of affiliation. Then, he took all of his character cards and built a mega-curve with them. That’s right, he took all of his characters and lined them up in something of a matrix. The JSA characters were laid out by curve to begin with, then Checkmate, then Villains United below them. After that came the Shadowpact curve, and finally, the Secret Six and legacy characters were placed at the bottom of the grid. Luke explained that this helped him see where the holes in his curve were and allowed him to assess the strengths of his teams accurately.

Luke looks for a main team first, and then he aims to fill in that team with either a support team or just random filler guys if the second team isn’t really strong enough. Luke said that he always looks to cut Shadowpact first because they tend to have a brittle curve and he thinks the team is really only worth playing for its plot twists. If a consistent curve were available, he would run it, though Luke said that Dr. Occult, Richard Occult was one of the few Shadowpact characters in his pool that he thought he could build a deck around. He looked over the Shadowpact plot twists and ultimately decided to move on to other teams.

At this stage, Luke noted that his JSA pool was so good that it was definitely going to be his A-team. Aside from the excellent JSA Headquarters, he said that he had the largest number of playable guys from a single affiliation. Terry Sloane ◊ Mr. Terrific, Golden Age Gold Medalist and Michael Holt ◊ Mr. Terrific, Renaissance Man in particular are his favorites.

Luke realized that he couldn’t play Villains United in any meaningful capacity, so he cut their numbers to the possible splash of a single Mr. Freeze, Brutal Blizzard. Luke remarked that he thinks Deathstroke the Terminator, Lethal Weapon is only good in faster decks. Dr. Psycho, Twisted Telepath was not a card Luke wanted to consider, as he always plays for turn 7, where that card could be too much of a liability.

At this point, Luke had culled so many cards that he began to look through his Secret Six and legacy content. Deadshot, Dead Aim quickly got pulled out, though Luke noted that if he had an extra on-team 2-drop, this guy wouldn’t have made his deck. Animal Man, Buddy Baker was then immediately put in his 4-drop column. Luke insisted that this guy is an automatic inclusion in any curve deck, and that he is willing to cut on-team guys to make space for him.

Next, Luke focused on evaluating Checkmate, particularly Brother Eye and . A further look at his locations, which included Rann and Thanagar, suggested that the reusable ATK pump was probably there to stay. Luke also thinks Knight Armor is an excellent card for an on-curve deck and can warrant playing a few average Checkmate characters to ensure it comes down for free.

Moving on to his non-character cards, Luke found himself with a plethora of options—so many, in fact, that several playable cards could not make his deck. Amusingly for me, Luke seemed overly troubled by this, seemingly more afraid of making an error in deck construction than rejoicing in his good fortune at having so many potential game-winners. Focusing on [JSA Headquarters] and [Brother Eye] as the cornerstones of his deck, Luke thought it might be best to run extra Team-Ups to support them, as opposed to more flexible cards like [Watch the Birdie!] that might strand his powerful locations without the appropriately affiliated characters to use them.

The way Luke sees it, in your average Sealed Deck tournament, you usually need to get a 3-1 record to have done well enough for good prizes or to be in a position to make Top 8. To attain this record, it’s better to go with the safe curve option that cannot 4-0 but is unlikely to do worse than 3-1. He contrasts this with players who stretch their curve in an attempt to make a 4-0 deck, yet leave themselves open to a possible 2-2 or 1-3 result, knocking them from contention.

Luke decided that these cards were automatic inclusions in his deck:

I Still Hate Magic!

Deflection

Revitalize

Defend Yourself!

Brother Eye

JSA Headquarters

Knight Armor

Considering that he wanted to run eleven non-character cards, his choices then came down to the following:

Rann

Thanagar

Forbidden Loyalties, Team-Up

Justice United, Team-Up

Watch the Birdie!

Luke decided that Rann and Thanagar would both make the cut, as he wanted Brother Eye to be as good as possible. His choice was then between the flexibility of having defense against concealed characters and having actual Team-Ups for cards that reference affiliations in their text. With two powerhouse locations that require specific teams to operate, Luke decided to go with the double Team-Up and drop Watch the Birdie!.

To clean up his curve, Luke had to cut a 4-drop and a 5-drop. His 6-drops and 7-drops were fine, and although his lower curve was not optimal, it wasn’t so bad that he had to splash characters from other teams. In the end, Luke dropped Amanda Waller, Black Queen to make room for Animal Man, Buddy Baker. He said that Richard Tyler ◊ Hourman, Man of the Hour was not an automatic inclusion for him, but that it was definitely better to have the option of being visible in this format, which can be quite fast. Additionally, Luke cut Carter Hall ◊ Hawkman, Eternal Champion for Mr. Freeze, Brutal Blizzard.

Luke said that when his deck contains good blue, he is loath to play 1-drops since he essentially sees them as additional plot twists. According to Luke, since he was going to mulligan for a 2-drop, having 1-drops is just a lucky bonus that can’t be relied upon, especially not at the expense of other slots on the curve.

Here’s Luke’s final decklist:

Characters

Deadshot, Dead Aim

Sasha Bordeaux, Knight

Stargirl, Courtney Whitmore

Retrieval Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army

Christopher Smith ◊ Peacemaker, Obsessed Outlaw

Neutralization Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army

Kendra Saunders ◊ Hawkgirl, Eternal Heroine

Michael Holt ◊ Mr. Terrific, Renaissance Man

Elimination Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army

Batman, Earth 2

Animal Man, Buddy Baker

Richard Tyler ◊ Hourman, Man of the Hour

Mr. Freeze, Brutal Blizzard

Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Knight

Wonder Woman, Earth 2

Power Girl, Earth 2

Huntress, Reluctant Queen

The Phantom Stranger, Wandering Hero

Black Adam, Ruthless Hero

Plot Twists

Deflection

Justice United, Team-Up

Defend Yourself!

I Still Hate Magic!

Revitalize

Forbidden Loyalties, Team-Up

Locations

JSA Headquarters

Thanagar

Brother Eye

Rann

Equipment

Knight Armor

After he played with the deck, I asked Luke for his impressions. He didn’t really have an opinion on Deadshot, Dead Aim, admitting that he forgot to bring him back from the KO’d pile on more than one occasion. Sasha Bordeaux, Knight never hit the table either, but Luke was sure she would have been great every time. Stargirl, Courtney Whitmore was amazing for harassing 2-drops and simply facilitating JSA Headquarters. Retrieval Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army was good for Luke, as the discard never hindered him, especially since he had Brother Eye to return Army guys to negate the disadvantage.

Christopher Smith ◊ Peacemaker, Obsessed Outlaw was excellent, particularly because he can get rid of Michael Holt ◊ Mr. Terrific, Renaissance Man. Luke implied that he was better on evens for holding the curve as opposed to just stunning smaller characters randomly. Luke never had to play Neutralization Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army, something he was probably happy about, as he wasn’t very excited about it in deckbuilding. Kendra Saunders ◊ Hawkgirl, Eternal Heroine was fine as a good curve filler for Luke.

Apparently, there are no longer any superlatives left to explain just how good Michael Holt ◊ Mr. Terrific, Renaissance Man is.

Elimination Protocol ◊ OMAC Robot, Army was good enough as an attacker, as he has decent enough stats and flight, which combines well with Christopher Smith ◊ Peacemaker, Obsessed Outlaw. Batman, Earth 2’s 8 ATK was a good enough reason for Luke to play him. Animal Man, Buddy Baker still warms a special place in Luke’s heart, and he still considers it good enough to get around its disadvantage of being off-team. Richard Tyler ◊ Hourman, Man of the Hour did not impress Luke, who said that he preferred his other 4-drops. When your opponent hits an early curve, Richard Tyler just gets overrun. (Hello, Michael Holt ◊ Mr. Terrific, Renaissance Man!)

According to Luke, if Mr. Freeze, Brutal Blizzard is bad for you, it certainly isn’t the card’s fault. Roy Harper ◊ Arsenal, Knight didn’t perform at optimal excitement for Luke’s tastes, as he prefers to hit a solid curve rather than get too funky with KO’ing resources or anything. Luke was glowing in his appraisal of Wonder Woman, Earth 2, since there’s little incentive to attack down the curve into her, and he found that her ability is more relevant than it seems at first.

Luke said that Power Girl, Earth 2 is fine because she has flight, but he hadn’t attacked a 7-drop with her yet. He was also happy enough with Huntress, Reluctant Queen, if only because she’s a Checkmate character. Following his style, Luke was satisfied with The Phantom Stranger, Wandering Hero, who was not only a wall on turn 7, but was also another trick to prolong the game. Luke compared Black Adam, Ruthless Hero to the most devastating finisher from JLA Sealed, Ultra-Humanite, Evolutionary Antecedent—very high praise indeed.

Deflection was always good for Luke, allowing him to stick it to decks with few pumps. Defend Yourself! was similarly consistent, with +3 ATK always good in Luke’s mind. I Still Hate Magic! could never be bad. While Luke didn’t like Revitalize, he thinks it is a must for straight curve decks. His hidden characters (particularly 3-drops) allowed him to get the recovery effect online. Luke felt vindicated in playing both Team-Ups, Forbidden Loyalties and Justice United, as he needed to team-up much more often than he had originally anticipated.

JSA Headquarters was nuts for Luke, as it gets any guy regardless of affiliation. He thinks it’s much more powerful in Constructed than in Sealed, though. Thanagar and Rann were both good for Luke, who insisted that you should run both if you can. For his style of deck, he likes the DEF bonus better, but he is happy with either. Luke didn’t really have anything bad to say about Brother Eye, as +2 ATK was enough to make it ridiculous. Finally, Luke really liked Knight Armor, as you can never have enough DEF in this sort of deck.

Overall, Luke was happy with how the deck worked. He never regretted cutting Watch the Birdie!, citing the importance of the Checkmate Team-Up as good compensation.

Thanks for reading. Check in again next week for a look at how Luke’s opponent in this Sealed Pack challenge, Scott Hunstad, fared with his pool!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: