15 January 2006

VS. CARD OF THE WEEK: Hercules (MAV-013)

Take two friends who love comics. Add a superhero-themed collectible card game. Sprinkle a dash of competitiveness, and a lump of testosterone. The result? Weekly matches that turn friends into nemeses.

This is not your typical "card of the week" column. Every web site dedicated to CCGs has been there and done that. This column is all about our competition, though. Guy and I usually play two games of Vs. a week, and every Sunday, we'll feature the card that we think most influenced the outcome of the matches we played the preceding week, and the metagaming lessons we learned in the process.

Card of the Week:

Hercules MAV-013

About a month ago I built and began to play with an Avengers Reservist Deck. Follow this link to get an idea as to what type of deck I'm using if you're unfamiliar with Vs. System Cards. The Character cards listed are almost a perfect match to my deck, except I have not included Beast, Black Knight, Black Panther, or Tasmanian Devil, in favor of more Plot Twists.

Before I go on, let me try to quickly explain the Reservist Mechanic. We haven't discussed it here on CBC, and without some knowledge you won't be able to fully appreciate my bonehead play that made Hercules our Card Of The Week.

The overriding theme with the Avengers Expansion of Vs. System is the Reservist mechanic. It allows you to recruit characters from your Resource Row into play, as long as the characters have the Reservist characteristic. In the past, if you didn't have a Plot Twist, Location or Equipment card to put in your Resource Row, you had no choice but to use a character card as a resource. Normally once a card is in your Resource Row, it can't come into the field of play. This happens on a regular basis, and sometimes you get burned by doing this.

Occasionally, the card you wanted to have played in round 6 is inaccessible because you used it as a resource in round 3. As a result, you're forced to recruit under the curve and play a 5 drop or lower cost character card(s). If your opponent hits the curve and plays his 6 drop, you're probably going to be in trouble this round.

Reservist cards can prevent this from happening. In fact, you want to put Reservists in your Resource Row.

In my opinion, the best aspect of Vs. is how it incorporates the traits of the comic book characters into the game. (The Avengers Expansion also introduced the Leader mechanic, with characters like Captain America and Iron Man offering bonuses to their teammates.) One thing that the comic book Avengers have had since the beginning are Reservists, heroes they would call into action during times of great need. Vs. has now built that idea into the game. In fact, not only can you pull a Reservist card from your resource row into play, many game effects and Plot Twists are dependent on how many Reservists are in your Resource Row. Go back and follow the link above. Check out the Plot Twists "Call Down The Lightning" and "Heroes In Reserve". Those are two great examples of how the mechanics of this deck work. In a Reservist deck, Plot Twists, Character Powers, and other game effects faithfully recreate the team aspect of the Avengers.

I hope I've made some sense with my explanation of what a Reservist is, and how it works. If you have any questions shoot us a comment, and we'll respond ASAP. Now back to our regularly scheduled column...

It's the 7th round, and Guy is beating me in a relatively tight game. I have the initiative, with 3 characters in play, before my recruit step. After drawing my two cards, I recruit Hercules from my Resource Row, and replace him with one of the cards I just drew. This was the perfect situation for Hercules to come into play.

Hercules power reads:
"Reveal three face-down reservist resources you control >>> Ready Hercules. Hercules cannot cause breakthrough while attacking characters this turn. Use this power only once per turn."
The most effective way to play Hercules is to have him attack a lower-cost character, and not have him get stunned during the counter attack. You also want to consider how much possible breakthrough you'd get. After your attack - assuming Hercules didn't get stunned - when he is exhausted, reveal 3 Reservists from your Resource row to ready him for a second attack.

The way the playing field was set up after Guy's recruit step, I had a clear advantage. He didn't recruit anyone this round and had 2 visible characters and 1 concealed. I had 3 visible characters and 1 concealed. Using Hawkeye's Activated Power, I stunned Lady Vic for my first attack step. It was during my second attack where I screwed up, though.

I proposed an attack with Hercules against Batgirl. Now, at face value, this is a clear win for Hercules. His 16 attack and 16 defense is no match for Batgirl's 8 attack, and 7 defense. But Guy had some tricks up his sleeve. Batgirl was equipped and her attack was pumped up to 12. Still, that wasn't the problem, as I'd taken that into account. What I didn't anticipate were some well timed Plot Twists Guy played to boost her attack to 16. That was a problem! Batgirl could now stun me during the counter attack, and I had no way of boosting my defense. Guy and I traded mutual stuns during my attack, and Hercules's power didn't factor into the game. With no visible characters left, my final attack struck directly into Guy's endurance total. When my final attack was over Guy had -3 endurance, with his attack step left before the round would finish.

Guy only had one character card left for his attack step, the concealed Dr. Destiny. Even though I had the card advantage on the field of play, Guy had a legitimate shot at winning this game. He proposed an attack with Dr. Destiny against my exhausted Hawkeye. With the potential of breakthrough damage of 7, in addition to the stun loss of 4, that attack would have caused me 11 points, and the game. But I had one last trick up my sleeve.

In my concealed area, I had Rick Jones as backup, and did he come in handy! At the beginning of the round, when I recruited Hercules, I also recruited Rick Jones. I used his power so I wouldn't have to pay for his recruit cost. When Guy proposed his attack to Hawkeye, I used Rick Jones' Activated Power, and targeted Hawkeye. As a result, no breakthrough took place. I only took a 4 point loss to my endurance total instead of 11. With no attackers left for Guy to use, the round was over.

The final tally: Guy -3, and Dan 0. The closest match we've ever played. I ended up winning, but it was sheer luck. I would have comfortably beaten my nemesis if I had played that round correctly. By attacking Batgirl with Wonder Man, my other ready attacker, it would have allowed Hercules two attacks directly into Guy's endurance for 32 points of damage. But I got greedy. I wanted to attack Batgirl with Hercules, get breakthrough damage with that attack, and then attack Guy directly when Hercules readied using his power.

Usually it's good to be greedy while playing Vs., but in this match-up it almost cost me the game. It's not what Hercules did in the match that made him the Card Of The Week, it's what he didn't do.


Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Damn, dude! You remembered all that? My CotW ain't gonna have that much detail to it. Yeesh.

BTW, I hate the Avengers' team stuff. It's all broken, I tell ya! Worse than Cosmic Spider-Man. :-P

PS: Lady Vic rules!

Dan Diaz said...

This CotW is the exception to the rule. From here on out, they should be more concise.

I made mental note of the match, cause I thought it might make a good post. From there it evolved into our version of CotW.

Better to play with Avengers than that Gotham Knights / JLI deck.

One thing that didn't fit in this post that I wanted to mention about Avengers Reservist Deck. There are two main reasons I like this deck build.

1) It just a fun deck to play with.
2) Compared to other decks, its dirt cheap to play with. No rare cards, and very few uncommons.

Shane Bailey said...

Have you guys tried to play online yet? And yeah, Avengers may be broken as I haven't lost a match when playing them yet.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Shane: I haven't had a chance to check out the online play yet, and I'm not forwarding it to Dan before I do, otherwise he'll get too much practice in with that broken deck of his! Upper Deck needs to do a better job of incorporating new mechanics into both sets simultaneously, I think. Had to convert my Gotham Knights deck and replace Arkham Inmates with JLI just to try to keep up.

Shane Bailey said...

I totally agree. It seems like each set breaks the last.