Many of you reading know me by name and many of you may not. My name is John Tatta and you could say that I’m a bit of a TCG journeyman. I’ve been playing TCGs both professionally and casually for over two decades now and in my spare time (who has that) have helped build communities through running websites such as VS Headquarters. While VS Headquarters didn’t work out for a multitude of reasons, I wanted to still devote time and energy into building the community. Also, I like to write. So. Enough of the introductions, I want to get into the meat of the article …
Those of us who have had the pleasure of playing with A-Force have no doubt stumbled upon the A-Force team characters Pixie and Singularity. These two cards, to say the least, have caused quite the uproar in the community – mainly in the VS 2PCG Collective Facebook group. While the “combo” of Pixie + Singularity is really powerful I think most players are overlooking the strengths of the cards on their own. Before we get into that I want to explain how Pixie and Singularity work.
As you can see from the card images, for a blue superpower Pixie can put into play a character from the top of your deck that is supposed to be a temporary addition to your team. Singularity, however, can turn that temporary addition to a permanent one by removing it from play and making sure they miss the “KO at end of turn” trigger. Obviously this is a very strong combination that can cheat into play such beasts as Thanos, Adam Warlock, Drax, Ghost Rider, Enchantress, etc. The hero of choice for this combination is the new Dark Phoenix and the reasons for that are twofold. Firstly, Dark Phoenix’s superpower of allowing you to accelerate by two resources allows her to completely skip the early game which allows her to pack her deck with many high cost, high impact characters and still reliably be able to play them even if the combination doesn’t work out. Secondly, Dark Phoenix has 7 health which makes her very difficult to KO before she can get set up and has a superpower that all but ends the game if it does go off. That said, Dark Phoenix’s real power rests on her level 1 ability which also helps you find locations to continue to use Pixie. The other main character that I’ve seen use this combo to decent effect is Luke Cage. Luke Cage takes advantage of the second point that I made above and elevates it to a new level. The combo is considerably slower in Luke Cage but the ability to stay alive is increased to a whole new level. Still, Luke Cage builds have some drawbacks in that the “ideal” turn 3 for Luke Cage is to level up and then play a 1-drop, usually Cosmo or Yondu, and get back into the game extremely quickly. Packing your deck with 3-4 copies of Yondu/Cosmo, or both, makes Pixie significantly worst as you want to be flipping into Magneto, Ghost Rider, and Thanos rather than Cosmo or in situations where you don’t have the proper locations, Iron Fist.
So as you can reason from reading or even from your own playtesting, the combo is really good. Some people even think that it’s ban worthy. While time may show that Singularity is too good for her own good, I don’t think that we’re there yet. The format is still young and being explored and there are plenty of ways to get Singularity off of the board after a single turn. That said, the combo is pretty fragile and it’s not exactly super consistent. Oftentimes Dark Phoenix will miss the combo pieces and just start playing 5+ drops starting on turn 3 which is typically good enough to win the game. If your opponent is playing Yondu, Cosmo, Electro, or Gambit then it’s often better to do that anyway. My point is that the combo is pretty good when it’s left unchecked but the majority of decks, and definitely the tier 1 decks, have ways to disrupt you leaving you with not a lot to show for it.
The real reason why I brought you here is to make the statement that while the combo is great and all, Pixie and Singularity are pretty great on their own, arguably even better due to consistency sake and relatively low investment. What I want to do is talking about Pixie first and some ways to use her and then Singularity and a way to use her. There are many untapped deck ideas that I haven’t tried yet but the ones I’ll be talking about today are tested and pretty good. You can certainly still do tweaks on them as the format is still extremely young and I’m absolutely sure the decks aren’t optimal. Before I talk about decks though I wanted to take a second and thank Kirk Buckendorf and Cory Dawson, among others, who helped me get back into the game after a hiatus between the core set and Defenders. Also, thanks to the Facebook group for being active. These ideas are not my own but rather ones that I saw on there and ran with the idea.
The first deck is a Pixie deck that abuses her ability to guarantee an impactful character with each activation. Starting on turn 2, you put into play something high impact to either level Thanos (Goblin Queen) or stun the opposing MC. The deck has the capability to Infinity Gauntlet as early as turn 2 or 3 with an early Goblin Queen or much later if the game dictates that. It also utilizes Loki (A-Force) to draw a ton of cards while also playing Loki (VS Battles) to ensure a power up. Flipping into core set Loki isn’t so bad either as the deck plays a large number of plot twists to still be able to continue to draw cards. To reuse Locations we have Iron Man as well as Build A Better World – basically, Pixie can go near infinite if you need her to. When the character leaves play, Thanos’ level 1 ability is usually at the ready to shuffle them right back in all the while making himself larger in the process.
As I said, this deck idea was originally posted in the Facebook group but the evolution of it has been taken into a few directions. This version is certainly powerful but I’m sure that it can be improved upon. Let me provide you with a list and we can discuss the evolution together.
2 Goblin Queen
1 Iron Man
1 Emma Frost
4 Loki (A-Force)
2 Loki (Marvel Battles)
1 Professor X
Plot Twists (22)
4 Find Cover
4 Shock to the System
4 Metal and Fire
3 Build A Better World
3 You Won’t Like Her When She’s Angry
4 Open Fire
4 The Vault
Now, let’s talk about this because it looks crazy to me. My first thought when I saw this concept for the first time was, “Huh, that’s neat. Now how do we break it?” That’s when I started thinking about cards such as Loki (A-Force) because I just really like drawing cards. If you’d rather not play the 2 Villains Loki’s you can always just play 2 copies of Thanos SC to power up. I think it’s a wash either way but the Villains Loki can team attack with Thanos (or Dormammu) in a pinch. The other characters in the deck all serve a purpose. Iron Man lets you turn up a Vault for Gauntlet or a Laboratory for Pixie. Hitting Iron Man with Pixie is basically a “free” activation as you can just turn up the same location you flipped down to activate her. Emma Frost gives you an alternate win condition if the game goes long as you just can’t get through to the MC and also serves the purpose of recycling your own hand if you just have a bunch of characters that you’d rather be in your deck. Dormammu and Professor X are win conditions in that they still your opponent’s characters, permanently in the case of the former, and lets you equalize the board. Ultimately your win condition is Infinity Gauntlet, like any other Thanos deck, but you do have other options here
The plot twists are pretty self-explanatory for the most part. This is a slow combo deck so you want to be able to survive for as long as you can and also keep Pixie around for as long as you can. Find Cover and Shock help do exactly that and the A-Force plot twists are mainly in here to protect Pixie and only Pixie. I played a game where I had a 5/8 Pixie on turn 2 and my opponent just got overwhelmed very quickly. Locations are also somewhat obvious as with Thanos you want the “usual 20” and then we have a couple Arcadia to give you 6 ways to activate a turn 2 Pixie. We might want to go up to 4 Arcadia at some point but I’ve been happy with the 2 for now. The BABW’s have helped make sure Pixie is always active, it’s just drawing the initial blue for her is sometimes a task.
As I said, this deck is always evolving. Some of the characters may not be necessary and it’s possible that we want more Goblin Queens for faster gauntlets. I’ve been satisfied with 2 but going to 4 is a real possibility. Nobody is ever sad to see an early gauntlet, except for your opponent.
From the Shadows
The real culprit in the “Pixie/Singularity” combo is Singularity herself. Being able to reset “appear” abilities is really powerful especially in the case of controlling ones such as Iceman’s Freeze and Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare. Furthermore, the majority of these characters are low cost as you want to establish somewhat of a combo before Singularity hits the field which makes Valkyrie a real threat. At this point the deck somewhat builds itself except for a couple of decisions – mainly which characters you want to abuse and what kind of end game you want. Do you want Captain America for counter abuse? Do you want to be more combo? Also, which main character makes the most sense. To me this decision is fairly simple. I think that you want to be Professor X as the “little dude wall” makes a lot of sense with him as attacking isn’t where you really want to be and also his Cerebro ability helps find your key personnel such as Captain America and Singularity. I personally find it very difficult to decide on what the correct number is for each character so your testing may prove that the numbers just aren’t right yet. That said, I’m pretty sure I’m already playing the characters that I want to be.
3 Miss America
1 Iron Man
2 Ghost Rider
Plot Twists (12)
4 Uncanny Defense
4 Find Cover
4 Shock to the System
4 Xavier’s School
4 Training Grounds
2 Sanctum Santorum
Now THIS deck is a crazy one. Basically what we’re doing is using Iceman and Wasp early on to control their characters, Yondu and Cosmo to blank or stun problematic ones that we can’t Freeze profitably, and then Singularity to reset everything. Nighthawk comes down midgame to ramp us into Valkyrie or Ghost Rider and then we pretty much lock up the game. Valkyrie makes sure that Singularity stays in play as we loop Iceman or Wasp or whatever. The one copy of Iron Man ensures we can “go infinite” as we can just turn up a yellow and then Singularity Iron Man out to reset him. The deck works much like the Defenders only Valkyrie combo deck except it’s much better early game as we have a Black Widow who also does her best Ant Man impersonation which is what this deck badly wanted. I’ve played a few games where Professor X just never gets wounded and those games are magical. We have late game inevitability since we’re Professor X and also play Ghost Rider. Honestly, this deck has tested extremely well and the only thing that has been a nightmare is playing against Femme Fatale decks, mainly Enchantress, who also play Satana.
The plot twists are there to protect Singularity, as usual, but are also good to keep your Professor X from getting bashed in the face. The Locations are also pretty obvious with the Training Grounds being used for Yondu exclusively as well as any character that you might steal with Professor X. The Sanctum’s are for Nighthawk and Valkyrie obviously.
I won’t go over individual matchups because I’ve only played about a dozen games with both decks and just don’t have the sample size to comment. If these decks become popular, or adapted versions of them, I’ll be happy to go over matchups after testing them a little bit more extensively. I hope that you enjoyed the article and hope to be a regular contributor, editors willing, for more decks and theorycrafting! Until then …