I haven’t play Magic seriously in several years. I gave up on the game for two main reasons: money and time. The game was becoming too rich for my blood and I did not have enough time to properly playtest. I am a super competitive person, so I did not want to play a game in which I could not be totally invested. However, I did continue play some limited events – especially team limited. It was while preparing for one of the team events (GP Detroit) back in August that I found out that VS was making a comeback.
I played the game in its heyday and I really enjoyed it. However, there were some broken elements and it too evolved into a costly pastime. So, I was extremely excited to hear that the new version would allow you to purchase all of the cards and that it would be streamlined in its format and rules. My teammates (Joe Keaveny and Evan Erwin) and I were able to procure a couple of base sets before hitting the road to Detroit. Suffice it to say, we had a blast. Even though we didn’t make it to Day 2 of the GP, we played so much VS we didn’t care! We all came away excited for this new version of the game. Joe and I continued to play any opportunity we could.
Several months later, an event was finally announced for our area (sort of – it was about 2 hours away). Joe and I began testing feverishly, trying to develop a gauntlet of decks. Along the way, we recruited the help of our good friend Adam Logan. We knew that the A-Force expansion would throw a wrench into things since it was going to be released a little over two weeks before the event. However, none of us expected it to have the impact it did. This expansion was packed with power and was certain to be prevalent at the tournament.
Several cards and interactions were identified early on that were sure to impact the VS scene. I’ll save the entire list for a different time, but a few key ones to mention:
- Pixie/Singularity – this one was catching most everyone’s attention, and for obvious reasons. They didn’t even try to hide it; our first big combo is team-affiliated characters that are next to each other on the curve. Add in defensive stats and we have a winner!
- Goblin Queen – this lady is busted. The token effect is huge in a game where the defender can only strike back against one team attacker. Her minions power up Femme Fatality, they play well with Thanos, and the ability is reusable. She’s a Killer Queen, Guaranteed to blow your mind… Anytime (FM)
- Dark Phoenix – the best MC in the set. Crazy abilities and – 7 wounds!?! She is susceptible to stuns early and often, but in the long run it just doesn’t matter. She can fill her side quickly with big characters and the P/S combo.
- Captain Marvel – aggro gets a new MC with great abilities and some really solid support characters that work with her abilities. Her deck can hit hard and fast and she can get out of hand pretty quick with the counters.
We were able to identify some key decks for our testing gauntlet – Thanos, Luke Cage, Storm, Dr. Strange, and Starlord were staples. We even tested some off the cuff ones – Daredevil, Deadpool, and Winter Soldier to name a few. A-Force brought us Captain Marvel and Dark Phoenix. I gravitated to Dark Phoenix because I’ve always been a fan of ramp in this game. Dropping bigger guys faster than your opponent will most often result in victory. I played Hulk and Starlord a lot leading up to A-Force, so it was a natural fit.
As the tournament approached, our group all moved in on the deck. Our feeling was that the deck was just too powerful to ignore. Joe’s sentiment :”You can’t beat it by playing fair.” We began honing the list, eventually settling in on the same basic build with a only a few open slots that we could mold to personal preference. We were happy with our hard work and were ready to battle some new opponents!
MC Dark Phoenix
3x Ghost Rider
2x Iron Man
No real analysis here… it’s the combo and some of the best targets for it.
4x Dramatic Entrance
2x Build a Better World
Entrance is so key to protecting your characters. Broken combats have involved us dropping Ghost Rider to defend and KO’ing two of their characters. The Builds are like playing 5th copies of each of your basic resources, which is great for a resource hungry deck like this one.
4x Miss America
4x Loki (A-Force)
Moonstone is your anti-Cosmo package; once she’s on the table it is hard for them to protect him from flight/range of her and Dark Phoenix. When you ramp but don’t have the combo, the rest of these ladies are who you get to drop quickly. She-Hulk was the perfect 4-drop as her pump ability helps make Pixie and Singularity scary team attackers. After a turn 1 ramp, she comes down on 2 and is very hard for most decks to deal with, especially with 2 wounds. Miss America is also great; she is so annoying for your opponent unless they have a way to hit her with Lethal. A-Force Loki is a superstar with her size and ability. We had games in playtesting that resulted in 12 cards drawn off of her. Last but not least, Satana came along late in the process but proved to be something we could not ignore. Her ability can certainly alter your opponents game plan, and her Lethal bonus really boost Moonstone and Dark Phoenix.
All the relevant colors/factions.
We arrived and were excited to see a good crowd forming. However, our excitement was short-lived when we released that about half of the people were there for a Yu-Gi-Oh event. All in all, we ended up with 10 players so we had 4 rounds with a cut to Top 4. I’m pumped for some new competition though…
Round 1 – Joe Keaveny (Dark Phoenix)
The same deck list and many hours of playtesting against each other, at least we knew this matchup well. I had to mulligan my hand aggressively but the one I got back was a little slow. Joe was able to ramp turn 1 into turn 3 Miss America. I was able to answer her with a Satana via Dramatic Entrance. The next turn brought a Satana from him, which removed all of mine. I had my own Miss America for the trade. Turn 5 he dropped a Loki and immediately drew 3 cards. Although I ramped on my turn 5, he drew another hat trick of cards when I attacked. Eventually, he was able to overrun me with the massive card advantage. It sucks to start out with a loss to a friend, but that’s the way it goes.
Round 2 – Shaun Mack (Deadpool)
This deck actually presents problems. If we don’t hit something big like She-Hulk early or have Dramatic Entrance, he can get draws to flip on turn 3. He had Iceman/Hope Summers early and started racking up the XP. I ramped on turn 3 and was able to stall on his next few turns with two Dramatic Entrances (one was A-force Loki with a Power Up to draw 3). Once I dropped Thanos on turn 6 though, his game grinded to a halt. There was no way to get through that size and I had some Fortress available to double wound Deadpool two turns in a row.
Round 3 – Zac Landis (Loki)
This deck is typically a very favorable matchup for our build; you just have to know how to play it. Just ramp early and ignore attacking until your characters are too big or to numerous for their plot twists to overcome. This game went another direction as I was able to drop Pixie/Singularity on 2 and 3 and immediately start filling up my board. That along with ramp allowed my to just overwhelm him with board presence. I have to give a shout out to Zac for his build; his inclusion of a Sister Grimm toolbox allows him some great flexibility.
Round 4 – Ankit Kavi (Thanos)
I got paired up against Ankit, who is 3-0. He went first with a Cosmo on Dark Phoenix. I had my Moonstone on turn 2, but made a huge misplay. In my excitement to off Cosmo, I left Dark Phoenix in the back row with Moonstone. As soon as I attacked with Moonstone, I realized Dark Phoenix would not be able to attack Cosmo due to losing flight/range. This was of course a backbreaker because he had one Find Cover to fend of the Moonstone attack, but nothing for Dark Phoenix. The Cosmo kept me locked down another turn before I was able to get rid of it and ramp on turn 4. I was able to accumulate some stuns and get a Thanos off of Pixie which got a double stun on his main. However, at 4 wounds he was able to flip, gauntlet, and pump his Thanos to 17/17. After that turn, we were both top decking each turn, with me just dropping guys to get eat by Thanos to try to stop some wounds. Eventually, he got a Doc Octopus to stick and started getting extra cards. My last two turns were all resource draws by me.
I missed the Top 4, Joe got in over me and Adam (also 2-2) due to the head to head tie breaker. The Top 4 decided to split the money and play for the playmat/cards.
#1 Ankit Kavi (Thanos) v. #4 Joe Keaveny (Dark Phoenix)
These guys had a great game, with Joe getting retribution for a loss in the swiss. HIs draw was extremely fast and he was able to get an early Thanos down that Ankit just could not deal with (
#2 Ricky Gross (Dark Phoenix) v. #3 Zac Landis (Loki)
I was unable to watch most of this game due to watching my teammate, but I read later on that Zac pulled out the win.
The Finals were skipped so that some folks that had driven from long distances could get on the road. I really enjoy the deck that we played and feel like it was the best choice. At this time, I’m not sure what changes we would make based on this tournament. However, we will keep on testing leading up to Origins/GenCon to see what we can come up with.
Props & Slops
First and foremost, I have to give out big Props to MWO Games for running this event. This is the first event of any kind we have had in the East Tennessee/Western Carolina/Southwest Virginia area. It was advertised as a $500 minimum payout to Top 8, and the owner lived up to his word. I know he lost money, so applaud him for being willing to take that chance to help promote this game. Please support MWO Games if you are ever in the Bristol area.
Next, I have to give it up for two great teammates – Joe and Adam. Countless hours of testing led to a solid list and of course we had a lot of fun along the way.
Props to Ankit on his Thanos list; it’s an interesting take on the archtype with some X-men team support. That’s all I will divulge – I’ll leave it up to him if he wants to share it. I also have to applaued Ankit and his friend (sorry I did not catch his name), who drove 8 hours from Maryland! That’s some dedication.
The only Slops I have to hand out are to all of the players that didn’t show up. The store owner said he got a lot of response from many local players and others within a few hours drive that ultimately did not show up. Obviously he was expecting a larger turnout to provide such a payout. Right now, this game is having issues with organized play, so I encourage players to get out and hit events whenever possible so that the events will actually continue. I am having a great time with this game and I am sure others are too. Let’s work together to keep it growing!