Collateral Damage

For the uninformed, collateral damage is a U.S. Military collateral_damage1.jpgterm for unintended harm or damage during a military operation. It is also a 2002 action film which tells the story of a Los Angeles firefighter Gordy Brewer (played by Arnold Schwarz-enegger) who looks to avenge his son’s and wife’s deaths at the hands of a guerrilla commando, by traveling to Colombia and facing their killers.* For the sake of this blog I will be referring to the former definition.

There really is only one team in Vs. that truly embodies what collateral damage is all about. One team, that whenever attacked causes harm that you did not intend. I’m talking about the Villains United and their Vengeance mechanic.

Back in 2006 at PC Indy, Ahmed was all the rage. Everyone was either trying to protect their Ahmed, or trying to take down their opponent’s Ahmed. It was then that members of my playgroup ahmed.jpg(Irken Elite) came up with an incredibly fun Villains United deck that took advantage of Chemate/VU’s early game open board. The idea was to smash the opponent with as much damage as possible in the early turns and make them decide if it was work triggering your vengeance abilities on the attack back. This deck is like any other short curve deck (TNB for ex.), it’s weakness lies in its hit-or-miss nature. If you curve out with a few pumps, chances are you will win. Missing even one drop though, can take the game into turns this deck was not designed to go to. The great thing about playing a deck like this at a PC is that your matches will only last about 10 minutes at the most. There is no thinking involved!

I only went 5-5 with the deck, missing day 2 by 1 win (a win I should have had, but I did not know Zazzala’s ability applied even when she was stunned). Other teammates of mine faired better with the deck. Here is the list we played.

4x Chomin, Qwardian Spy
2x Cheetah, Feral Feline
2x Terry Sloane <> Mr. Terrific, Golden Age Gold Medalist
4x Ishmael Gregor <> Sabbac, Malevolent Marvelishmael.jpg
4x Dr. Psycho, Mental Giant
4x Zazzala <> Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hive
2x The Calculator, Evil Oracle
2x Ted Grand <> Wildcat, Golden Age Gold Medalist
4x Deathstroke the Terminator, Lethal Weapon
2x Fatality, Flawless Victory
1x Black Adam, Teth-Adam

4x Laser Watch

4x Die for Darkseid!
4x Baddest of the Bad
4x Blinding Rage
4x Trial By Fire
3x Air Strike
3x Defend Yourself!
3x Return Fire!

Recently Chemate/VU has resurfaced because it was the easiest way to abuse the new Bizarro World, which gives Bizarro all names in the game. This deck has since been neutered with the clarification of how control requirements are met (i.e. you have to control four different characters with the names of the fantastic four, not just one Bizarro to meet the requirements of Four Freedoms Plaza). Reguardless, it’s resurgence made me look back at my Villains United deck with a renewed interest.

The first thing I noticed is that for this deck to be silver age legal, a few cards will have to go. Die for Darkseid, Trial by Fire, Air Strike, and Chomin. chomin.jpgThe loss of Chomin is pretty painful because he was A) a way to trigger vengeance abilities when our opponents were being gun-shy and B) a way to remove an attacker that had been pumped to massive proportions (you’d be amazed at how many people forgot about Chomin when he was sitting inconspicuously in the hidden area). The loss of Die for Darkseid! was also a blow to the deck because it was one of the many things that fed Zazzala’s burn ability (Baddest of the Bad, Die for Darkseid!, Fatality, The Calculator, and characters leaving play the old fashioned way all pinged away at your opponents).

To see how the deck might be adapted to compensate for these losses I opened up DocX’s search engine. The first thing I searched for were cards with vengeance.jpgVengeance in the text. What I got was entirely unexpected. The Marvel Knights character named Vengeance does not have the Vengeance
keyword, yet has an ability which triggers when he becomes stunned. I found this amusing and decided to investigate the possibilities of a team-up. Marvel Knights, I discovered, brings a lot to the table when paired with Villains United. Let’s take a look at some of the characters that could fill out our curve.

At one, we lost Chomin, but we’re teaming up, so The Calculator, Noah Kuttler will be taking his spot since he can nab us Coercion. Cheetah can stay, because she’s got a decent ability that becomes pretty good in conjunction with Join us or Die. We also need to hit VU characters early for Coercion to work. Terry Sloane is out because he was never that useful. Frank Drake, Night Stalker seems like a much better choice. Not only is he a +3 Atk pump, but he fuels Zazzala’s burn.

At two not much has to change. I want a Marvel Knight presence at every drop so we can put Wild Ride in the deck so let’s turn two Dr. Psycho’s into two Daredevils. Daredevil, Fearless Survivor has the ability to take down three drops, which trumps Punisher’s KO ability in my mind. Punisher’s ability can fuel Zazzala, but Daredevil’s ability to stun up the curve is what will keep Zazzala on the board for the maximum amount of time. Also, I never like having to pass up an attack just to get a finishing move effect, which is usually what happens with Punisher.

At three we will only be retaining Zazzala from our original build. Villains United acquired a new three drop named Chemo in the Legionnaires set. At first glance I thought Chemo was less than OK, even on his best day. I chemo.jpgfinally realized how playable he was when I found that his ability can recover and stun your opponent’s characters, not just your own. This leads to all kinds of fantastic fun. If you hit Ishmael on turn two, you can recover and stun him again to burn your opponent (this has the drawback of you taking stun damage); you can restun Cheetah to give out some more attack to your characters; you can restun Dr. Psycho if your opponent is swarming you with one drops; or you could just restun your opponent’s three drop to burn them for three endurance, which I’m sure they’ll be happy to be taking again! Chemo is only really limited in a mirror match, where you don’t really want to trigger your opponent’s Vengeance effects! We’ll also be throwing in one Morbius, Biochemical Bloodsucker whose swing of six endurance every turn can really add up. Throw an equipment on him to raise his atk and his drawback is entirely negated.

At four, we also want to change very little. Like having Ishmael on turn two, having Deathstroke on turn four is brutal, and can add up quickly. deathstroke.jpgFatality is still good because Ahmed still exists in silver age. She can also devastate weenie rush decks like Syndicate. It also doesn’t hurt that every KO’d character on both sides of the fence is chipping away at your opponent’s endurance via Zazzala. We will, however, take out one Fatality to fit in one Wolverine, Covert Predator. Not only can he attack Ahmed, but he can attack the three drop Sue Storm, who really wrecks your day when you’re playing against the Family of Four. He’s also good when facing other fast hidden character decks like the Crime Syndicate of Amerika.

Our curve will be rounded out on five and six by Vengeance and Ghost Rider. Their “Spirit of Vengeance” versions are awesome when mixed with Villains United, and they make sure that the game won’t be going beyond them. This was always a weakness of the first build because Black Adam was not very impressive. He was basically just another attack pump, but hardly game-finishing.

Laser Watches can be upgraded to Desert Eagles because you can stack more than one Desert Eagle on a character. It does have the drawback of being exclusive to MK characters, but with how easy it is to team-up early with Coercion, there should be no problems. Similarly, Air Strike can be replaced by Flying Kick from the Hellboy Essential Collection. Flight is very important because these two teams are severely lacking. Blinding Rage is here to stay because of its ability to guarantee the triggering of Vengeance abilities. Our Final attack pump in the deck will be Grand Gesture. This was missing from the original build because Baddest of the Bad was already returning excess characters to hand. Now that that we can use Wild Ride to search out our characters, we should have characters to spare. I probably don’t need to, but I will also point out that Grand Gesture, like many other cards, also fuels Zazzala (broken record much?!).

As I mentioned earlier, the original build of this deck lost Chomin and Die For Darkseid. Fortunately, there are cards with similar effects that can replace them. Penance Stare is a MK card that works in the same veins as Die for Darkseid. It’s weaker when used on your one, two, or three drops, but stronger on your five and six. Join us or Die’s effect is better than Chomin’s because it recovers your character after stunning them. It also has the advantage of being hidden from your opponent until he has over committed to an attack. The drawback is that, unlike Chomin, it can’t be used every turn.

So, after all that, here’s our final list. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

4x The Calculator, Noah Kuttler
2x Cheetah, Feral Feline
2x Frank Drake, Night Stalker
4x Ishmael Gregor <> Sabbac, Malevolent Marvel
2x Dr. Psycho, Mental Giant
2x Daredevil, Fearless Survivor
4x Zazzala <> Queen Bee, Mistress of the Hivezazzala.jpg
2x Chemo, Chemical Golem
1x Morbius, Biochemical Bloodsucker
4x Deathstroke the Terminator, Lethal Weapon
1x Fatality, Flawless Victory
1x Wolverine, Covery Predator
2x Vengeance, Spirit of Vengeance
1x Ghost Rider, Spirit of Vengeance

4x Desert Eagle

4x Penance Stare
4x Wild Ride
4x Blinding Rage
4x Flying Kick
3x Grand Gesture
3x Join us or Die
2x Coercion



3 Responses

  1. Freaking BRILLIANT start. You are immediately blogrolled, please continue.

  2. Seconded, you will be voted for as soon as I can.

    I love the deck.

    Me and GrazingCattle made a similar deck.

    Just for reference. Here is our list.

  3. brilliant, imo

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