24 November 2005

COMMENT: Cosmic Spider-Man is Broken!

This past March, my sporadic co-blogger Dan did a write-up on the [new at the time] Marvel Knights expansion set to Upper Deck's Vs. System, the trading card game that lets you pit superheroes and supervillians against each other, Magic-style. I'd never played, but owned a few of the random cards that had been distributed with Wizard magazine back when I still bought it, and was mildly intrigued. I swore to resist the temptation, though, remembering it was Dan who, years earlier, had introduced me to Pokémon which sucked my wallet dry for about a year before I finally restricted myself to the GameBoy Advance experience only.

Cosmic Spider-ManFast forward to last night, and Dan's since moved back from Miami and is living next door to me, and I now have my own Gotham Knights/Arkham Inmates deck which he's beaten down four times. Two of those times have been thanks to Cosmic Spider-Man, one of the most broken gaming components I've ever come across.

It's the Captain Universe-endowed Spider-Man, and it's singlehandedly won him the match in an otherwise tight 8th round both times. Bad enough it's a 17/17 which trumps every single card in my fledgling deck, but his power also makes his team nigh invulnerable:

Spider-Friends attackers you control cannot be stunned.

At the start of the combat phase, Spider-Man gets +1 ATK and +1 DEF for each non-stunned character target opponent controls.
There was some debate last night over his powers, both the "non-stunned" part of the description and how to interpret it in connection with "the start of the combat phase" since normally, at the start of combat, everyone is non-stunned; and whether or not it applies to only Cosmic Spider-Man, or every Spider-Man card in play, something a Clone Saga-related twist allows. An 8th round that may have finally gone my way, was again flipped thanks to the power cosmic.

I hate the power cosmic, in the comics, and even moreso, in the game!

Vs. itself is a lot more fun than I expected it to be, though; a perfect blend of fantasy football-style superhero geekery and chess-like strategic thinking. I love numbers and probabilities and thinking three steps ahead, all mixed up with the luck of the draw, and that's exactly what Vs. offers. In the later rounds, you can get a headache running through all of the angles you can play, and the thrill of a well-played strategy is balanced by the agony of a thwarted one, thanks to plot twists that perfectly evoke the anything-can-happen feel of the best superhero stories.

Constructing a deck is tough, especially when you're not willing to buy a ton of booster packs or shop around online for specific cards, but I'm working off of the Batman starter deck, a handful of booster packs I've picked up over the past couple of months, and some extras Dan throws my way when he's not whooping my ass! Like fantasy football, playing your favorites instead of the numbers can lose you games, which is why I avoid having any Jets on my teams and have a difficult time justifying keeping Two-Face in my deck.

Last night's version came the closest to taking Dan out - at one point in the 8th round, we were tied at -4, but I couldn't finish him off and he had one big attack left, which clinched it - and I made a few more tweaks this morning that I think may finally push it over the top, ending the game before Cosmic Spider-Man screws things up. Since I don't have a lot of big gun 7 and 8 cards yet, I'm trying to work the early rounds with lower-ranked cards supplemented by plot twists and equipment to do maximum damage while he's still building up his team. I've also finally gotten the deck closer to 60 cards, 64 now to be exact, way down from the 70-75 cards I'd been using.

Later today, I'm going to give in and buy some single cards to fill in a couple of the holes I still have. After that, I'm going to kick Dan in the ass for hooking me on yet another money-sucking hobby!

Connor Hawke: Green ArrowPS: Not that any comic book people are paying attention at this point, but there's a card in the new JLA expansion set that caught my eye: Connor Hawke <> Green Arrow. Isn't Connor Hawke currently Arsenal, from the Outsiders? (And the original Speedy?) Did DC tip their hands on a One Year Later outcome, or was he in fact Green Arrow in the past? I know Green Arrow died at some point, so maybe he replaced him and changed his identity to Arsenal when the original returned? Just curious, but not quite enough to Google it.

6 comments:

Adam said...

Actually Roy Harper was Speedy and is now Arsenal of the Outsiders. Connor Hawke is Ollie's (The Original Green Arrow) son who took over the mantle of Green Arrow when Oliver died. (He has since returned to the living, of course, and there are currently two heroes who go by the name Green Arrow) Oliver is still the best Bowman in the DCU but Connor has been shown to be a martial-artist without compare, besting even Lady Shiva in a tournament setting.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Ah! Thanks for clearing that up. Good thing I made that a PS and not a post of its own. :-)

oscar said...

for more on Green Arrow & Connor Hawke, i highly recommend
"Green Arrow: Archer's Quest"

it will tell ya all you need to know about current GA and leave ya thirsting for a lil more

Shane Bailey said...

There is a way to play Vs. online with a full set of the currently available cards. I can get the information on where to download the programs and such later if you want. Just drop me an e-mail if you're interested.

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