(Metagame Archive) Heralds of Galactus: Karnak, The Shatterer

By Patrick Sullivan

When it was announced to us in R&D that Heralds of Galactus was on the slate, there was no doubt that it would be a cosmic set. For starters, cosmic was originally intended to represent cosmic entities, which the stories of Galactus, Silver Surfer, and other intergalactic characters have in abundance. Cosmic was a mechanic that we hadn’t explored in earnest in a long time (sure, we had the occasional cosmic character, but nothing of the scope of Man of Steel), and we were looking forward to doing it a second time.

Cosmic, besides giving us a way of thematically representing characters from other dimensions or regions of the universe (much like concealed in Green Lantern), also gives us a way of giving characters very impressive powers that are balanced by the fact that the powers are temporary. In the Man of Steel set, the cosmic abilities were rather incidental (other than Parasite, who requires quite a bit of work). Since many of Man of Steel’s cosmic characters have little going on beyond their cosmic text, and cosmic is a temporary effect, and the cosmic abilities aren’t that exciting, it’s easy to see how cosmic never really took off. Fortunately, from our perspective, this was very easy to address: we simply needed to make more powerful cosmic effects this time around.

At the same time, just having cosmic in the set wouldn’t be enough. While I think cosmic is a cool mechanic in terms of the powers it allows us to give to characters, the play experience of cosmic isn’t that different. I, as the controller of the cosmic character, try to avoid getting my character stunned. You, as the opposing player, try to stun my character. As you may have noticed, this is a pretty common strategy in Vs. System, cosmic characters or not. While cosmic may influence attack order (by knocking out a cosmic character that influences combat somehow) and character evaluation (say, stunning a cosmic 4-drop instead of a non-cosmic 5-drop to remove the counter instead of taking out the biggest character), cosmic doesn’t introduce a wildly different play pattern. There would have to be something in Heralds to make cosmic “feel” different than it did before, something that would go beyond a simple power level change. Lead designer Andrew Yip came up with a new class of cosmic, cosmic—surge, to add a new layer to cosmic characters.

Here’s the rules text for cosmic—surge:

Cosmic—Surge: [cosmic text] 

 

Cosmic—Surge is a new twist on cosmic. A character with this keyword is still a cosmic character and follows all the rules for cosmic, with two exceptions:

1. Cosmic—Surge characters do not come into play with a cosmic counter.

2. At the start of the recovery phase each turn, put a cosmic counter on each cosmic—surge character that isn’t stunned.

 

The implications of this keyword are very significant. For starters, you don’t get the cosmic character right away. You are going to have to put a little bit of work into it, either by having your character survive until recovery, adding a cosmic counter from some other effect, or using a recovery effect before recovery. However, there are some upsides to it. First of all, a cosmic—surge character can lose a cosmic character and then get it back at some later stage. Previous cosmic characters were basically “one and done”—once they got stunned, you needed to take pretty extreme measures to get the cosmic counter back. Cosmic—surge characters can replenish their counters simply by surviving to recovery. Secondly, cosmic—surge has a pretty obvious and powerful synergy with characters that remove their cosmic counters for effects. The preview card for today, Karnak, may be the most potent of the bunch.

 

Yes, you are reading that card correctly. Karnak, in essence, trades a cosmic character for a free stun on your initiative. Once you reach the sixth or seventh turn of the game, Karnak’s effect easily translates into a +15 or +16 ATK pump. As a concealed character, it’s pretty easy to get him to survive until recovery just by making safe attacks. However, if you really want to get him online on turn 5, the Inhumans have a variety of ways to get a cosmic counter on him right away. Also, the Inhumans have a lot of characters with concealed, so you’ll often have a 1- or 2-drop lingering around to maximize the power of Karnak. Before, the benchmark of efficiency was sending a character one spot up the curve with an ATK pump. Now, the new benchmark might be sending your 1-drop after your opponent’s 7-drop and using Karnak as a +16 ATK pump. In Constructed, I expect curve decks to go out of their way to fulfill his loyalty—reveal requirement, as Karnak with the initiative and a cosmic counter should almost always yield a win. In Sealed Pack, the description “bomb” doesn’t even come close to explaining how good Karnak is. Everything that’s true about him in Constructed is even more accurate in Sealed Pack, where the format is slower, more curve-oriented, and more forgiving of playing a concealed 5-drop.

I think I can speak for all of R&D when I say that we are very excited with the execution of cosmic and cosmic—surge in Heralds of Galactus. The cosmic cards in this set reward players appropriately for the costs associated with cosmic, and cosmic—surge introduces a completely different play experience for the mechanic. While Sneak Previews are always fun, this one will be especially so. The debut of Galactus himself and the return of an old mechanic will give the Preview tournaments a shot in the arm and an exciting new twist. I suggest checking it out for yourself.

And remember to bring some coins or dice. When it was announced to us in R&D that Heralds of Galactus was on the slate, there was no doubt that it would be a cosmic set. For starters, cosmic was originally intended to represent cosmic entities, which the stories of Galactus, Silver Surfer, and other intergalactic characters have in abundance. Cosmic was a mechanic that we hadn’t explored in earnest in a long time (sure, we had the occasional cosmic character, but nothing of the scope of Man of Steel), and we were looking forward to doing it a second time.

 

Cosmic, besides giving us a way of thematically representing characters from other dimensions or regions of the universe (much like concealed in Green Lantern), also gives us a way of giving characters very impressive powers that are balanced by the fact that the powers are temporary. In the Man of Steel set, the cosmic abilities were rather incidental (other than Parasite, who requires quite a bit of work). Since many of Man of Steel’s cosmic characters have little going on beyond their cosmic text, and cosmic is a temporary effect, and the cosmic abilities aren’t that exciting, it’s easy to see how cosmic never really took off. Fortunately, from our perspective, this was very easy to address: we simply needed to make more powerful cosmic effects this time around.

 

At the same time, just having cosmic in the set wouldn’t be enough. While I think cosmic is a cool mechanic in terms of the powers it allows us to give to characters, the play experience of cosmic isn’t that different. I, as the controller of the cosmic character, try to avoid getting my character stunned. You, as the opposing player, try to stun my character. As you may have noticed, this is a pretty common strategy in Vs. System, cosmic characters or not. While cosmic may influence attack order (by knocking out a cosmic character that influences combat somehow) and character evaluation (say, stunning a cosmic 4-drop instead of a non-cosmic 5-drop to remove the counter instead of taking out the biggest character), cosmic doesn’t introduce a wildly different play pattern. There would have to be something in Heralds to make cosmic “feel” different than it did before, something that would go beyond a simple power level change. Lead designer Andrew Yip came up with a new class of cosmic, cosmic—surge, to add a new layer to cosmic characters.

 

Here’s the rules text for cosmic—surge:

 

Cosmic—Surge: [cosmic text]

 

Cosmic—Surge is a new twist on cosmic. A character with this keyword is still a cosmic character and follows all the rules for cosmic, with two exceptions:

 

1. Cosmic—Surge characters do not come into play with a cosmic counter.

2. At the start of the recovery phase each turn, put a cosmic counter on each cosmic—surge character that isn’t stunned.

 

The implications of this keyword are very significant. For starters, you don’t get the cosmic character right away. You are going to have to put a little bit of work into it, either by having your character survive until recovery, adding a cosmic counter from some other effect, or using a recovery effect before recovery. However, there are some upsides to it. First of all, a cosmic—surge character can lose a cosmic character and then get it back at some later stage. Previous cosmic characters were basically “one and done”—once they got stunned, you needed to take pretty extreme measures to get the cosmic counter back. Cosmic—surge characters can replenish their counters simply by surviving to recovery. Secondly, cosmic—surge has a pretty obvious and powerful synergy with characters that remove their cosmic counters for effects. The preview card for today, Karnak, may be the most potent of the bunch.

 

 

Yes, you are reading that card correctly. Karnak, in essence, trades a cosmic character for a free stun on your initiative. Once you reach the sixth or seventh turn of the game, Karnak’s effect easily translates into a +15 or +16 ATK pump. As a concealed character, it’s pretty easy to get him to survive until recovery just by making safe attacks. However, if you really want to get him online on turn 5, the Inhumans have a variety of ways to get a cosmic counter on him right away. Also, the Inhumans have a lot of characters with concealed, so you’ll often have a 1- or 2-drop lingering around to maximize the power of Karnak. Before, the benchmark of efficiency was sending a character one spot up the curve with an ATK pump. Now, the new benchmark might be sending your 1-drop after your opponent’s 7-drop and using Karnak as a +16 ATK pump. In Constructed, I expect curve decks to go out of their way to fulfill his loyalty—reveal requirement, as Karnak with the initiative and a cosmic counter should almost always yield a win. In Sealed Pack, the description “bomb” doesn’t even come close to explaining how good Karnak is. Everything that’s true about him in Constructed is even more accurate in Sealed Pack, where the format is slower, more curve-oriented, and more forgiving of playing a concealed 5-drop.

 

I think I can speak for all of R&D when I say that we are very excited with the execution of cosmic and cosmic—surge in Heralds of Galactus. The cosmic cards in this set reward players appropriately for the costs associated with cosmic, and cosmic—surge introduces a completely different play experience for the mechanic. While Sneak Previews are always fun, this one will be especially so. The debut of Galactus himself and the return of an old mechanic will give the Preview tournaments a shot in the arm and an exciting new twist. I suggest checking it out for yourself.

 

And remember to bring some coins or dice.
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