Instant Harm Paragon

Valkyrie, Chooser of the SlainA paragon is a model, ideal, or standard; therefore an instant harm paragon is something that sets the standard for instant harm. It comes as no surprise then that when you rearrange the letters of Samantha Parrington, you get… instant harm paragon! Coincidence? Yes! Cool? Also yes!

When you first look at Samantha Parrington (once you get over the hotness of the card that is), it’s hard not to notice that her stats are unusual for a four drop. Her attack value is on par with a three drop while her defense value is on par with a five drop. Like Mr. Fantastic, Critical Thinker and Darkseid, Apokoliptian Oppressor, her stats are justified by an amazing ability. In fact, with the abilities of the three aforementioned four drops, you’d rather have high defense values to keep them on table as long as possible.

Now, I’m aware that Samantha’s ability is nothing new to any of you, but to recap: Samantha allows a character the chance to attack twice, barring them stunning back on their first attack. This has the potential to be game-ending. In fact, there have already been decks designed around this very concept. Niles Rowland took the following deck to the Semi-Finals at last year’s PC Indianapolis:

4x Lockjaw, Inhuman’s Best Friend
4x Luna Maximoff, Only Human
4x San, The Alienated One
4x Tania Belinsky <> Red Guardian, Cold Warrior
4x Quicksilver, Inhuman by Marriage
1x Crystal, Elementelle
1x Human Torch, Sparky
1x Richard Rider <> Nova, Xandarian Nova Corps
1x Dewoz, Dark Reflection
1x Samantha Parrington <> Valkyrie, Chooser of the Slain
2x Devil-Slayer, Eric Simon Payne
1x Quicksilver, Terrigenesis Rebirth

4x Mobilize
4x Flying Kick
4x Crackshot
4x The Royal Guard
4x For Khundia!
4x Rabbit Fire
1x Skreeeeeee!

4x The Great Refuge
1x Attilan
1x Blue Area of the Moon
1x Star Tower

This is an incredibly cool deck idea. Samantha enables Devil-Slayer to attack twice, and each time he attacks he gets to reveal a bunch of turn-based pumps, like Flying Kick, to get bigger each time. Inhumans brought some team-stamped turn-based pumps and character search to the table, along with Attilan to stack the deck, and Blue Area of the Moon to prevent stun-backs on the Devil-Slayer’s first attack. This team-up was needed largely due to the limited card pool of modern age. There just weren’t enough turn-based pumps for the Marvel Defenders to stand alone.

In the Mega-Weekend LA 2008 Semi-Finals there was another deck abusing Samantha; this one was piloted by Shawn Liedle. This deck was focused on letting Elektra, Masterless Assassin attack twice since she could attack the player directly, and therefore avoid worrying about stuns entirely. The fact that Elektra was a four drop like Samantha did not matter that much as you would generally put her down on five with the assumption that you could finish the game that turn.

4x Howard the Duck
2x Iceman, New Defender
4x Tania Belinskya <> Red Guardian, Cold Warrior
3x Daredevil, Fearless Survivor
1x Punisher, Suicide Run
1x John Walker <> U.S. Agent, Loose Cannon
4x Hellcat, Patsy Walker
3x Cloak, Shadowmaster
4x Samantha Parrington <> Valkyrie, Chooser of the Slain
4x Elektra, Masterless Assassin

4x Flying Kick
4x Crackshot
4x Rabbit Fire
4x Savage Beatdown
4x Defenders Defend
4x Pathetic Attempt
4x The “B” Team
4x Wild Ride

This deck has it’s drawbacks because you are not stunning any of their characters on your final turn, and therefore allowing them the chance to attack back with everything they have. This is made extra worrisome by the fact that Elektra is hidden, which leaves you with an almost open board. It’s also worth noting that Elektra is vulnerable to Gift Wrap, a card that will be legal as long as Samantha Parrington is. I’m not sure why Shawn chose to put Howard the Duck in this build; he doesn’t seem to bring much to the table. Other builds I’ve seen include Frank Drake, Nightstalker at the one drop position because he can be dropped with Elektra on turn five, then used to give her another turn-based pump. I’m also surprised that the Savage Beatdowns aren’t a turn-based pump like Combat Reflexes. In Shawn’s defense, he is the only one between us that has gone top-eight at a Mega-Weekend, so maybe I shouldn’t doubt his choices!

With the upcoming release of Marvel Universe, Samantha Parrinton will no longer be Modern Age legal. This means that we’re going to need to start looking at the impact she could potentially make in Silver Age. I know everyone hates the Fate Artifacts (or Fartifacts because it’s shorter and way more fun to say) but their power combined with Samantha Parrington is just too hard to ignore. After all, Elektra wouldn’t have been able to be targeted by Gift Wrap with a Cloak of Nabu on. The fact that the Fartifacts replace slots that could be turn-based pumps can be ignored because the Helm of Nabu is going to dig into your deck and allow you to turn characters in your hand into more pumps when you’re ready to finish the game. Nabu’s Fartifacts are often teched against with cards like Level 12 Intelligence or A Proud Zinco Product, but your opponent’s deck is already weaker for squeezing in tech, and therefore lowered in potential as much as your deck is from a Fartifact being KO’d. Besides, with Pathetic Attempt’s ability to stop these tech cards, equipment hate has gotten especially weak. I know that may sound crazy to you, but it’s why I’ve always largely ignored situational tech cards. I’d rather have a Savage Beatdown in my hand than A Proud Zinco Product that MIGHT be useful.

Along with the Fartifacts, you’re going to want to look at turn-based pumps that are available. Here’s a list of some decent pumps without a team-stamp (or that have a Marvel Defenders team-stamp).

Flying Kick: +3 ATK and Flight
Unexpected Assault: +2 ATK and Flight
Crackshot: +3 ATK and Range
Close the Gap: +2 ATK and Range
Rabbit Fire: +2 ATK and Flight and Range
Combat Reflexes: +3 ATK
Mob Mentality: +3 ATK (with additional bonuses for mutant-physical characters)
For Khundia: +2 ATK (with additional bonuses for Future Foes)
Epic Battle: +2 ATK for everyone cost 3 or higher
Banished to the Abyss: +1 ATK/+2 DEF for the first attack, +2 ATK/+4DEF for the second attack

Character-wise (and character search-wise), no matter who you team-up with, you’re going to at least want to consider the following cards:

1 Drop: Wong, Mystical Manservant
2 Drop: Tania Belinskya <> Red Guardian, Cold Warrior
3 Drop: Hellcat, Patsy Walker
4 Drop: Samantha Parrington <> Valkyrie, Chooser of the Slain
Searcher: The “B” Team

Now before we look at other teams to compliment this skeleton build, we have to see if Marvel Defenders have options on turn five to devastate your opponent. We’ve already mentioned Devil-Slayer, but there’s more. Hulk, Grumpy Green Goliath gains a +1/+1 counter each time he becomes exhausted. That makes him a 10/10 on the first attack and an 11/11 on the second. Righteous Anger and Banished to the Abyss would only compound his sweetness. Dr. Strange, Founding Father can also ready Samantha when he comes into play, which allows her to target herself beforehand. If Hellcat and Tania are targeting Samantha, she’ll be an 11/11that can attack twice. Plus Dr. Strange can still attack as well. Again, Samantha would need Fartifactsto prevent an untimely Gift Wrap. Finally, if you team-up with Spider-Friends, you can triple attack with the dual-loyalty Moon Knight, Fist of Khonshu. Everyone loves triple-attackers!

Speaking of triple-attackers, Quicksilver, Speed Demon equipped with the Fartifacts would be a 12/12 monster that could attack three times. He also has access to Hellhound and Asteroid M, which are only good attacking down the curve, but only one of his three attacks should be aimed at a five drop. Another Brotherhood turn-based pump is The Next Brotherhood, but you’d have to find a way to KO a resource you control… like perhaps with the card A Human Juggernaut. That’s right, Brotherhood has other five drops that can put in a decent day’s work. Juggernaut, Walking Disaster equipped with Juggernaut’s Helmet (which gives protection similar to the Cloak of Nabu) would have fifteen attack and access to Jugg’s legend cards like Unstoppable. Finally, Sabretooth, Savage Killer’s breakthrough ability can stop him from being stunned back on either of his attacks. His ability to let your board attack the hidden area could also be useful, especially when you look at how many characters sat in the hidden area in the top eight decklists from the last two Mega-Weekends.

Marvel Legends also gave us quite a plethora of great X-men five drops to abuse with Samantha. First of all, a Wolverine legends deck with Wolverine, Bub would be great with Samantha because he’s gonna be a 13 attack on both swings without any pumps. That doesn’t mean he can’t use pumps. Adamantium Claws are a sweet +4 for the turn! The problem I have with Wolverine is that there’s already a top-tier deck revolving around Wolverine, Covert Predator that attacks twice (or more) with Berserker Rage. Trying to use Samantha with him just seems redundant. The five drop Jean Grey, Phoenix Rising seems like she would like the opportunity to attack twice, especially considering that her greatest weakness is her lack of flight (which would allow her to break up formations). Those that know me best probably already know which X-Men five drop I am actually going to endorse to go with Samantha… Cyclops! That’s right, I have a soft spot in my heart for the oft-hated leader of the X-Men. Cyclops, Fearless Leader does not stun while attacking from the support row. If Cyclops is full of Fartifacts, he would be a 14/13 with no chance of stunning on either of his attacks. AWESOME! The X-Men also can use Turnabout and Commanding Nature (which is just an X-Men specific Unexpected Assault). It’s also worth mentioning that a similarly equipped Ghost Rider, Rider on the Storm from the Fantastic four would be a 15/12 that also could not be stunned while attacking.

I know I talked about the release of Marvel Universe changing the legality of sets, but I’d be forlorn if I couldn’t first talk about the possibility of using Samantha with the Hellfire club before they went into the empty abyss of Golden Age. The Hellfire Club’s weakest spot in their curve is the four drop. Inserting Samantha into this spot allows Shinobi Shaw to attack twice, racking up his counters just like The Hulk, Grumpy Green Goliath. Marvel defenders also bring Astral Projection to the mix, which helps the angry mutants quite a bit. Shinobi Shaw also has access to another turn-based pump because Kill or be Killed gives +3 ATK only to physical characters. Shinobi would also be getting the extra protection that Mob Mentality provides physical characters. Though this would be a really cool deck to play, it would be an awful deck to build because Hellfire Club decks are notoriously hard to open cards slots in.

Another cool route to take would be combining Marvel Defenders with JSA. JSA has an exhaustion theme that goes well with backup abilities. They also have The Rock of Eternity to ready all the Marvel Defenders backup characters after they’ve used their abilities. This means you could actually target Samantha with her own ability once again, but you’d have to make sure you’ve teamed-up by turn four. A better option would be to use her ability, and your other backup characters on Carter Hall <> Hawkman, Eternal Champion. If you still control Tania and Hellcat, and have your Carter Farted up, he would be a 22/17 after you factor in his exhaustion bonuses. You wouldn’t even need attack pumps in the deck with this behemoth!

Prior to thinking up ways to use Samantha Parrington, I was thinking of how to use Freddy Freeman <> Captain Marvel Jr., Third in Line. I never came up with anything, but he came back to mind this week, and I think this wouldn’t be an awful team-up. Freddy’s drawback is a moot point because you’ll be wrecking them on five. The artifacts make him a 15/14, and Terra, Little Sis can keep him from stunning on his first attack. If you had to put down a five drop on turn six, it wouldn’t be the end of the world considering Freddy’s stats. I think this would work well in a Titans team-attack deck that uses cards like Vic Stone <> Cyborg, Mechanized Mentor to keep the opponent’s board under control until your final swing. You could also try to build a Beast Boy legend deck that uses Samantha Parrington to get Beast Boy, Garfield Logan filled up with counters. This strategy is more likely to be able to use Terra, Little Sis because she wouldn’t have to stick around an unreasonable amount of time. Teen Titans also have a turn-based pump called More Than Just Sidekicks.

Before I shuttle on to what I think are the most competitive builds to use Samantha with, I want to talk about the deck I think would be the most entertaining to use. I feel Samantha has amazing synergy with… Shadowpact! Here’s why. On turn four you can drop Dr. Occult, Richard Occult. He’s nothing amazing on turn four as he will most likely be a 7/7. On turn five however, you can drop Samantha and Nightmaster, Demon-Slayer for the high cost of 20 endurance. This may sound CRAZY to you, but think about how well this works. For one thing, Demon-Slayer can immediately gain five endurance with his payment power, which makes him only cost 15 endurance. Also, his blow to your endurance total likely dropped you enough to enable Dr. Occult’s dormant abilities. He would now likely be a 9/9 or 10/10 depending on the situation. You now have your choice of who to make your double attacker. If you aren’t playing against Spider-Friends, your best bet would be to attack twice with a fully-fated Dr. Occult, a 15/15 four drop. Afterwards, you’d still be able to attack with Nightmaster. In total, you’d be swinging with 39 attack! In my opinion, it’s totally worth Nightmaster’s drawback. Besides, Shadowpact has plenty of life-gain cards to ensure you’re still at 20 endurance when turn five rolls around! It also just seems appropriate to actually us the Fate Artifacts in a Shadowpact deck. Right?

The next two buids are probably the most competitive ones possible with Samantha. First one up is League of Assassins. They have two exclusive turn-based pumps: Flying Fortress and Demon Fang. They also have location search from The Demon’s Head which allows them to get Fate’s Tower sooner than most builds can. The best part about this team-up is Ra’s al Ghul, Demon’s Head Rising. He removes reinforcement from anyone defending against him (without targeting them) to maximize the amount of damage possible. You could also use Ra’s al Ghul, Engine of Change if you want to get For Khundia’s ability to attack the hidden area. This Ra’s is far inferior though. Cassandra Cain, Daughter of Shiva wouldn’t be a bad choice at five either because she gets +3/+3 for her second attack. If you’re running League, you could also run the fan-made Nyssa on six, and she’s just swell! This would probably be the deck I would run as a legend deck because Ra’s, Mountain Stronghold, and Harsh Judgement all go in this deck.

The next most competitive build, in my opinion, is Checkmate/Marvel Defenders. This deck can play extremely similar to the League of Assassins build because it also has location search and a five drop that removes reinforcement. Ahmed Samsarra, White King and Maxwell Lord, Black King are at it again! The four drop spot is still the weakest spot in Checkmate’s curve, unless you plan on having three kings on the table at once. Samantha helps them out by absorbing some damage on four, and allowing them to do more damage on five than they ever hoped. It’s also convenient that Threat Neutralized, already a staple in Checkmate decks, is a turn-based pump. Checkmate does have more reliable location search than League of Assassins, but Maxwell Lord’s ability targets opponents unlike Ra’s al Ghul’s, and is therefore vulnerable to Pathetic Attempt. Talia, Daughter of Madness is another option for Checkmate because she can put Sarge Steel into play to prevent her from becoming stunned on her first attack. All in all a good team-up, but you’ll have to decide if it’s better than League.

Here are some teams with some synergy that I felt just didn’t make the cut:

JLA with Superman, Metropolis Marvel along with Battle Training and At Their Finest could be feasible. I feel this build is forced considering JLA already has a double attacker on turn six that can attack a player directly. I’m talking, of course, about Barry Allen <> The Flash, Founding Member with a Terminal Velocity. Besides, you’d rather have Wonder Woman, Ambassador of Peace on turn four.

Sinister Syndicate has Rhino, Unstoppable Force along with Spider Hunt and Demonic Association. The problem with this build is that if you KO your resources and can’t finish the game on turn five, you lose. Rhino’s ability to remove reinforcement will help end the game quickly, so maybe this build is worth trying.

Secret Society has Darkseid, Destroyer of Life and Giganta, Rampaging. Darkseid can really burn the crap out of your opponent (or clear their board), and Giganta is gigantic. Other than that, I don’t see anything that comes from this team-up.

Fantastic Four has Thing, but Thing really only belongs in the Family of Four build. It’s just too good. Besides, as I covered earlier, Fantastic Four also has a Ghost Rider on turn five that won’t stun while attacking.

Revenge Squad has Preus, Citizen’s Patrol. This build might work, but I don’t think you want to take out Metallo from the standard ongoing build. The deck just seems to work too well as mono Revenge Squad.

Well that’s my analysis of Samantha Parrington. I hope you got some ideas out of this, because I sure did! I wish I had looked this closely at her when she first came out! I also want to thank everyone who’s been checking out the site. So far the site’s at 600 hits and counting! I honestly did not think I would be at half that by this point. You guys rock!


3 Responses

  1. this article needs more comments imo.

  2. […] to Samantha Parrington, a card I explored in great detail a while ago in an article titled ‘Instant Harm Paragon’.  In this article, I tested Samantha’s best possible pairings with five drops to see how to […]

  3. […] to Samantha Parrington, a card I explored in great detail a while ago in an article titled ‘Instant Harm Paragon’.  In this article, I tested Samantha’s best possible pairings with five drops to see how to […]

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