Building a deck is a lot like writing a story, first you need to an outline of what you plan to accomplish and then you begin to draft together the pieces of the deck that you wish to use to accomplish that plan. Like a good story, a deck needs a definitive beginning, middle, and end to be successful. There has to be a logical climax between the middle and end that also brings you to that expected ending as well, something that has to be well thought of and planned during the outline process. This is the best explanation I can give on how to build a successful deck, especially if your main goal is to utilize any form of combo. The combo itself is typically your climax, that’s where you begin to utilize the pieces together to build towards your ending. The early game is your beginning and as all successful writers will tell you, the beginning and middle has to have key elements towards building to your climax, otherwise the climax can fall flat on an audience.
Keeping this concept in mind I decided to work with the Professor X Main Character from Marvel Battles as my main character for what I’ve been calling the Singing Pixie combo. The combo is nothing unique and discussions have been had ever since A-Force was released on how to better utilize it. Many of those discussions involved using the combo in conjunction with Dark Phoenix since if you miss the combo pieces you can fall back on the ramp and recruit the big guys the old fashion way. Dark Phoenix also gives you the ability to drop some of the big guys via effects such as Dramatic Entrance which would trigger potential appears powers like Ghost Rider, Emma Frost, and Iron Man as well as stonewall attacks at that point but I just felt the need to focus primarily on the Singularity and Pixie combo itself and find other alternatives that can be used in the process.
Below is the current final build that I’ve put together for the deck. It’s gone through multiple iterations and not every card that you see in this build was in the original build, likewise, not every card I’ve tested is in this build either and I’ll cover those additional options below in the article.
Main Character: Professor X
4x Iron Man
4x Emma Frost
4x Ghost Rider
4x Uncanny Defense
4x Find Cover
4x Shock To The System
4x Build A Better World
4x School For Gifted Youngsters
As you can see, the primary interactions are fairly clear. The concept is to play Pixie on turn 2 and follow that up with Singularity on turn 3. Cosmo is there as a solid under drop most turns or a play on turn 1 if the situation warrants it. Everything else after that is meant to come in from Pixie and work with Singularity each and every turn.
So, the question you may be asking, why Professor X and not Dark Phoenix? Well, the answer is two-fold really. The first was to be different really, Dark Phoenix is a solid MC without the Pixie/Singularity combo and anyone who may have read the previous Breaking The Mold series can attest that the idea behind the series was to be different and utilize cards in different ways, even if it wasn’t the most competitive. Dark Phoenix is a great fall back for the simple reason that it gives you additional outs if you miss Pixie/Singularity but the idea here is to limit the amount of times you miss the combo. As for the second reason, simply for Professor X’s Cerebro power. As was used with the Professor X/Valkyrie combo deck that I had posted on the Facebook Vs. 2PCG Collective group about back in February or so this year, Professor X gives you great stability when working combo decks that don’t exist with any other main character at this point. The idea here was to utilize Cerebro to consistently hit the pieces in time for turn 2 and turn 3 as needed for the combo to work effectively as early as it could each game.
Cosmo: Cosmo’s inclusion in this was found to be a necessity to try and battle against aggro main characters and of course anything that can easily take out Pixie and/or Singularity. I initially threw the character in to try and combat Thanos and the gauntlet (which it does do) however I’ve found that it has equally other uses outside of that.
Pixie: One of the single most powerful cards in the game to date, Pixie’s inclusion is the catalyst towards getting combo pieces on the field early.
Singularity: The ultimate combo piece and arguably the best part of the deck, Singularity drives the force behind everything this deck is trying to accomplish. Whether it’s saving the big guys from being KO’d after coming into play with Pixie or it’s removing cards like Emma Frost, Ghost Rider, and Iron Man to get multiple activations of their appear powers, Singularity is single handedly the most important part of this deck.
Satana: Satana is the ultimate tech card in the deck and has many uses. Whether it’s to have a flyer with lethal that can KO an annoying Yondu or tech for the mirror match where you can remove an opponent’s Pixie or Singularity from the game completely, she definitely has her many uses. Satana functions as a great 5-drop play but also isn’t so much of a bummer to see come in off Pixie if that happens to be the case.
Iron Man: Just like it was the case with the Valkyrie Combos after Defenders was released, Iron Man is an important tech card to try and keep the ability to use Laboratory or Arcadia locations for Pixie to keep pulling character’s into play from the deck. Iron Man is one of the characters in this deck that you want to remove with Singularity each and every turn to ensure that you get the location flip so you can activate again.
Emma Frost: Here’s where things may get a bit unclear. A lot of Dark Phoenix builds that were utilizing Pixie/Singulrity shenanigans weren’t really using Emma Frost. The only exception I have to say would probably be David Leader who I had seen using the combo I’m about to go over here. Next up on the list will be Ghost Rider, whom we all can agree has a pretty obvious place with Singularity in this deck. Emma Frost simply serves the purpose of feeding that KO pile with good guys so you can get more counters off of Ghost Rider’s activation OR dig into your deck to get other cards you may need. I’ve used Emma Frost on many occasions to dig for a Fortress for Thanos (or Adam Warlock when he was in the build) as well as dig for defensive plot twists in the event that I felt I needed them. So she serves her many purposes outside of the usual mill your opponent concept that has come up around here with Singularity.
Ghost Rider: As I touched on above, Ghost Rider’s main purpose is to give -1/-1 counters on the opponent’s field. Having big guys sometimes just isn’t enough, one of the hardest matchups this deck has is against Captain Marvel +1/+1 counters or any other aggro deck for that matter (since the attacking doesn’t really start with this deck until the big guns are in play) and Ghost Rider’s counters help nullify some of the advantage those decks can gain. Put on top of that you can easily eliminate problem characters like Cosmo by just placing counters on them and it just seems like a solid play. If the deck works its magic well enough, you won’t even need to attack most turns but just use the counters as a way to stun the opposing main character and go from there.
Thanos: Not entirely a shocker since we’re abusing Pixie and Singularity, Thanos is a good win condition to hit, especially if you can hit on turn 3. Being the biggest and baddest of the support characters has its place in any Singing Pixie build.
Other Character’s To Consider:
Scarlet Witch: I’ve had her in a couple of builds mainly for matchups against Thanos. If I couldn’t get Cosmo out to try and stop the Gauntlet or Cosmo became KO’d then I could use Scarlet Witch to prevent Thanos from leveling up. This became a bigger concern of course because Goblin Queen basically guarantees a turn 4 level up and potential gauntlet that can be devastating no matter the deck that’s against it. This latest build isn’t using Scarlet Witch of course because it is more of a specialty tech just for Thanos and I found that more times than none I was hitting her off a Pixie which was extremely disappointing to see.
Adam Warlock: This is probably the most common addition that’s missing from this build. So why no Adam Warlock? The answer is really just because I found in multiple matches of testing (as Warlock was in most every build I used) that I might hit Warlock on an early Pixie (which would be nice of course) but didn’t have the Fortress to flip him back over (which of course was the problem). This meant that it was a wasted Pixie activation for that turn because I couldn’t even get a single attack from him before he’s KO’d and Singularity can’t save him unless he’s face-up so he’s definitely going to get KO’d. Most builds I tried him in had him at a 2 of anyways so he wasn’t exactly a consistent factor in most games so it was just easy to remove him to make room for other things that entered the build.
Rather than go over each individual card I’ll just lump the like cards together here and explain their various uses.
Find Cover/Shock to the System/Uncanny Defense: Because aggro can be such a huge problem for this deck it’s important that you have ways to save Professor X, Pixie, and Singularity from early game stuns. Once the combo starts going off its typically easier to protect those pieces at that point but since Storm and other aggro builds are so keen on getting early turn stuns it became important to have something that can help against those. Throw on top of that how annoying it can be as an opponent to attack into Singularity (flying over a Thanos for example) to try and break the combo and boom, Uncanny Defense switches the attack over to Thanos instead. Those walls are nice to utilize against aggro decks that try to get too aggressive without working in the precaution that you may have some way to not just bounce their attack, but KO their attacker in the process if you do switch defenders to something like Thanos.
Build A Better World: Because the name of the game in this instance is to abuse Pixie on turn 2 and later to start hitting big guys, it’s important to have other ways to re-use those Laboratories other than to get an Iron Man into play. Build A Better World helps in that regard. Especially if you needed to use a Laboratory to dig for a Pixie with Cerebro and then that same turn wish to play Pixie’s effect after flipping the same Laboratory back face-up with Build A Better World.
Differences Between Professor X Build and Dark Phoenix Build:
Dark Phoenix gives a few extra tricks that can work with these character pieces such as Dramatic Entrance. Of course Dramatic Entrance can’t be in this build, but that’s also where Uncanny Defense sort of makes an appearance. One thing I also seem to notice with Dark Phoenix that you’re not going to see here is that outside of Build A Better World and Dramatic Escape, there’s really not much else in the Plot Twist department. This I believe puts Dark Phoenix at a disadvantage that doesn’t exist in the Professor X build I’m using which is that against aggro at least I have a shot to bounce some attacks, that’s not really the case with Dark Phoenix as most builds I’ve seen and encountered don’t run a single defensive plot twist. That’s one of the reasons why decks like Captain Marvel for example have strong matchups against Dark Phoenix.
The locations are what you’d expect to see in the build. The big difference between this and what you would see in a Dark Phoenix build is that there aren’t any Academies in this build. That’s primarily because Dark Phoenix needs 8 potential locations to draw to hit it’s secondary win condition of ramping to the big guys if Pixie/Singularity don’t work out, Professor X isn’t relying on that so much and therefore the 4 cards were easy to drop for other items (like the defensive plot twists for example).
The mulligan condition in most games is going to be Pixie/Singularity/Location to activate Pixie. Now that’s not going to the case in most games so if you can hit a hand of at minimum one or two locations for Professor X/Pixie and either Pixie or Singularity in the opening hand then you’re likely good to go. You’ll use Professor X to Cerebro into whichever piece is missing (Pixie or Singularity) and try to consistently hit your combo starting on turn 3. Defensive plot twists are a nice thing to have in opening hands when against aggro decks so if you see an aggro main character then even missing Pixie or Singularity but having the locations with defensive plot twists can be a plus.
Dark Phoenix: This deck has a better than not win percentage against Dark Phoenix. Part of this has to do with the ability to combo first before Dark Phoenix. If Dark Phoenix isn’t able to ramp more than once and misses the combo if it’s running it then it’s almost a certainty that you’ll be winning since there isn’t much to worry about at that point from the Dark Phoenix build.
Captain Marvel: This has been the single hardest matchup honestly. What I’ve found is Cosmo is almost a necessity starting on turn 1 since most versions of this utilize Captain Marvel gaining counters and then Meggan copying those counters. Preventing Captain Marvel from gaining the initial counters means you slow down Meggan’s growth and at the same time it gives you a chance to take and maintain board control if you can combo early. This has been about a 50/50 matchup in most of the games I’ve tested.
Thanos: This has been another interesting matchup and what’s been the hardest part of it is avoiding the gauntlet on turn 4 (but that’s not exactly news to most of the folks reading this article). Cosmo is a must have in the starting hand or off Cerebro by turn 2 or 3. I have no qualms with using Pixie/Singularity a turn or two later if it means I can avoid the gauntlet at the same time. What’s working against Thanos in most of the builds I’ve seen recently is they’ve become primarily about the gauntlet and not such much about a normal curve beatdown. Some of the pieces like Yondu, Drax, and the occasional Groot are still there but because of Goblin Queen most of the card slots have traded into Femme Fatality’s for -1/-1 counters instead. That means that if you can get a matchup where characters are missed by the Thanos player (more importantly Yondu is missed) then you have a fairly decent shot to win. This has still been closer to a 50/50 push however in the testing I’ve done.
Mystique: I’ve encountered a couple of Mystique builds which was interesting. Primarily when Mystique began taking the ATK of my large guy on the field to attack him. The problem however is if she can’t activate her Ferocious then it’s a net positive for you if you’re playing Professor X. This has been a better than average matchup for this deck, even though Mystique by extension is an aggro deck.
All in all I’m fairly happy with the deck build. Consistency-wise there’s been some issues in playing it online through OCTGN but what I’ve found is the deck seems to work much better live in person so I’m almost hesitant to say that it could be a true tier 1 contender in the current meta. Those that have played me online know that I have a thing for Professor X, primarily because Cerebro is a natural combo generator. One thing that I hadn’t covered above that I want to cover here is that leveling up Professor X is not necessarily a requirement in this deck, hence the lack of Academies and the lack of concern regarding using his L2 effect. What I’ve found is that if you’re hitting what you want when you want to, you’re not going to level because you’ll be attacking to gain advantages on the board. If you miss something however, then you do have the ability to potential level Professor X and steal characters at that point to try and regain some resemblance of an advantage. Professor X most turns after Singularity hits is going to be removed so there’s not much of a worry there to try and level him so he can withstand large attacks, since most turns he won’t be on the field in the first place. I hope you enjoyed the deck, I’ll likely be back with another Professor X interaction that I’ve asked for an official ruling on. To this moment I’ve not heard back a yes or no on it and I’ve kept the interaction fairly close to the chest because it can be something that in the right build would turn the meta upside down. More on that to come in a future article!