It happens every time a new set comes out. The bomb drops and creates a cloud of card chaos with new and experienced players alike scrambling to decipher the new meta. What builds the best new deck, what can I add to keep my current deck viable? As the dust settles we find new decks like Dark Phoenix and Enchantress have appeared, and decks like Thanos survive but with new tricks.
We are the pioneers of the new VS System, and are fortunate to be here in the beginning. We get to be the first ones to discover and implement combos and deck styles. We bring with us the knowledge of every card game we have played before. The problem is many of us have too much of that knowledge. We are intrinsically used to having option, upon option, upon option, to build anything we want. But with VS that’s not the case. We are both privileged and hindered by being at the forefront of this game. So does this mean our natural and familiar style of deck building won’t work? Of course not. However, there may be a better way.
For the vast majority of us when we set out to build a deck the first question is what kind. Agro, control, mid range, combo? We select the style deck and proceed to build from there. A tried and true method which exists throughout every game, but it’s not the only one available to us. We can also build decks through card synergy. This concept is exactly how we discover combos. Pixie and Singularity; Sister Grim, Build A Better World, and Loki. Cards whose abilities work in such concert their presence in a deck together is second nature. When building a deck based on card interaction the first step is to pick something you want to exploit. A keyword, a super power, an ability, or a combo; it can be from a main character or a supporting character. Then build your deck by choosing cards which directly help or support that function. Now I know building a deck by completely ignoring play style will seem unnatural or even offensive to some people. It requires a different approach, but it’s not as alien as you might originally think. We do it every time we draft.
Drafting, a format that currently, in my opinion, is tragically lacking from VS inherently forces us to create decks vastly different than we normally would. Every time we draft we utilize the concept of synergy. Our first pick will always be a bombshell if one’s available, and after that we choose cards which play well with one another so the end result is something cohesive. We disregard, at least in part, an adherence to deck style out of necessity. We have no way of knowing exactly which cards are coming next so our picks revolve around around the cooperative nature of the cards available in relation to the ones we already have. Applying this same process when the entire set is available is synergistic deck building. Like the idea of being able to see your opponent’s hand? Take Daredevil and play with ranged characters like Rocket, and card draw effects like Beast. Goad your opponent into wanting to attack then stack your deck with plot twists like Super Senses so they hit a wall and you get xp. Like the Pixie/Singularity combo? Skip your 4 and 5 drops so you’ve no chance to draw a “bad” card. Then play Dramatic Entrance and Valkyrie so if you miss the combo drops you’ve still got a way to protect your Main Character and recur from your KO pile. By focusing on having synergy between all of your cards you end up with a deck that plays much more organically right out of the gate. Places where modifications and changes need to take place are more quickly and easily identified. Decks play with a fluidity and maintain a natural tempo leaving other decks struggling to keep pace. The only thing you give up is knowing 100% what the deck will play like; but you were going to play test it anyway so who cares.
Synergy exists in every great deck, no matter how it was built. The aim of this technique is to minimize the number of times your deck stalls out. Those times where you miss a critical drop, have no combat tricks, or fist full of resources. Will it work every time? Are you guaranteed to create a top tier deck? Not a chance. Though with any luck you’ll see some something you might have otherwise overlooked, or try something different, and that can only make us better. I’ll leave you with this challenge. The next time you decide to build a new deck don’t think about how it will play. Choose Rogue or Cable and build a deck whose whole purpose is to make them kick ass.
Happy deck building.
If you’re interested in drafting VS I encourage you to check out this draft cube, https://www.facebook.com/groups/860168987351982/permalink/1013269578708588/ and a huge shout out to Kirk Buckendorf from the VS 2PCG Collective who took the time to create it for the base set and every expansion.