Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Preview Card Review Bard

Yes, I tacked on bard unnecessarily. But, I'll try to live up to it - on top of each brief review, I will also haiku. Damn my need to make the title of this article rhyme.

Today's Captain America's day, so I'm just going to go over the already 3, count 'em THREE, Captain America's we've seen so far. Beginning with the 2-drop: Captain America, The Patriot * Secret Avenger. And, despite his relatively low power, despite his low drop, despite (or perhaps because of) his lack of rarity, he might just be my favorite.

First off, there's Reservist. UDE's design team apparently decided that Cap should be an important character, regardless of the Avengers strategy you're playing, in my opinion a great idea that I hope works out well. This Cap fits into two themes, and is flavorful beside: he's a great team-attacker, and he's a reservist. More than that, even, He has the new keyverb, Rally.

- To rally for a [description] card, reveal the top card of your deck and put it into your hand if it matches that [description]. Otherwise, put it on the bottom of your deck. If it matches, the rally is “successful.” -

How's that for flavor? He calls up some back-up troops, giving the team more option, and inspires all his current teammates to greater heights as he does so. At 3/2 range concealed, with the possibility of being a 4/3 along with an equally large board, he's also a fair-to-oversized two drop. Even as a common, Captain America is versatile, and fits in well with multiple Avengers themes. However, as a concealed 2-drop, he's not in an ideal position to use one of the two spoiled legend cards thus far, and we'll have to wait to see how he interacts the rest of them, not to mention the team as a whole.

Grade: A-

Avengers' Captain
Many uses on a two
Team attack deck! Ha!

Next up!

Captain America, Champion License

Well, first off, he's a rare. Good luck getting ahold of him. At 8/7 with range, Captain America is a respectable 4 drop. He's Loyalty - Reveal, a slight downside thoroughly negated by being dual-affiliated to Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. - the first SHIELD character we've ever seen in Vs. Then, we get to his first ability.

Leader: Remove and adjacent defender from this attack -> Target non-stunned, non-defending character you control becomes a defender. Use only once per turn.

That's not a terrible ability. Certainly better than the two characters with the closest abilities I can think of: Superman, Clark Kent (the old 4-drop) and Wonder Woman, Deflection Diva. But Leader has always had a single, glaring flaw: why not just attack the leader first? Flight isn't exactly rare, assuming you can afford to put multiple characters in the support row, and attack redirection, while interesting, has never proven to be a viable defensive strategy. So, as nice as the leader ability is, is that really enough? Open the door to Ability 2...

Whenever Captain America becomes stunned, adjacent characters have invulnerability this turn.

That ability alone is ridiculous. They can't attack Cap first, if they want to cause any damage at all. And God forbid it's your attacks first. Combine that with some newer cards like the Supamechabat 0-drop for GK/Team Superman, and No-cost Superman, and you have the potential to completely negate a significant amount of damage each turn.

Ultimately, this Cap is a powerful generic card, probably not crucial to any single strategy, but useful in most of them. With what we've seen of the Captain America legend support, it looks like he'll be placed at a perfect drop to take advantage of most of them: early enough in the game to swing it in your favor, rather than merely trying to come from behind. This is a perfect drop for his support suite, and adding that defensive support to this already defensive powerhouse makes him an impressive card.

Rating: A

The Captain brings us
A new affiliation
And no real downside

Keep the hits comin'!

Captain America, Living Legend

We hit turn 6. Between 4-drop Cap, Cap's Shield, and Charging Star, that really shouldn't be hard to do. On turn 6, we smirk and throw down Captain America, Living Legend. 13/13. Range. Avengers and Invaders affiliated - the first Invaders character we've ever seen in this game. The stats are good - he's above curve

Now, Captain America, Living Legend isn't going to be winning you the game. He's not going to push through damage, or any of that. What he will do, however, is almost assuredly keep you alive until you hit turn 7. He's one of the better stall 6-drops of recent memory, allowing you to exhaust your six-drop to essentially negate an attack. How good he is depends largely on how good the Avengers/Invaders late game is. Do they have a killer 7 or 8? Only time will tell, but this Cap is a good way to make sure you reach the endgame you desire, rather than bowing to the potential board advantage/attack pumps of your opponent.

Even without a solid late-game, Captain America, Living Legend is a great defensive card in an environment that's become extremely offensive in nature. The ability to stop a stun can be quite potent against many popular decks, and I fully expect to see people using him to keep the game going.

Grade: A-

He's stopping the beats
Hidden IG, hard hitters
Watch yourself - Cap comes.


The Shield. One of the most anticipated equipment cards in Vs. UDE did not drop the ball here - it lives up to its reputation, enhancing in its own way each Cap card we've seen thus far and greatly helping in the theme we've seen of Captain America saving his team from damage.

Absolutely nothing is always a great price, and that's what this one costs: 0. Obviously, it's equip only to Captain America - it'd hardly be a legendary piece of equipment otherwise, and, really, not many other people can really use it quite the same way as Cap.

The effect reads: "Return Captain America's Shield to its owner's hand -> Exhaust equipped character. Target player exhausts a ready character he controls. Use only during the combat phase"

A few notable things. Like UDE's great article where they spoiled the card pointed out, Cap CAN be exhausted when he uses the ability, as exhausting him is not part of the cost. Yup. Captain America's Shield is one of the most potent exhaustion effects in the game, and it's reusable. Attack with Cap, then blow the Shield to stop some counter attacks. On the six-drop, you can use it after you've already negated one attack, effectively stopping the average attack stop dead in its tracks. Throw down something like Pier 4, and suddenly you're exhausting multiple characters per turn at the cost of exhausting your concealed 2-drop.

Yeah. This is a potent card, possibly one of the more money rares of the set.

Grade: A+

One! More! Time!

Charging Star, a name recognizable to fans of the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 video game, is a powerful defense pump. Obviously. +4 DEF is good, especially when it can be used on attack or defense. The other part of the plot twist, the negation part, makes it difficult to time. It's a great response to certain cards, like the new Roy Harper, What Are Friends For?, Chain Lightning, or Atomize. A single copy of this card can completely shift any combat situation.

It's also pretty damn powerful, making the most of it's name-stamped limitation. Some recent defense pumps: Defensive Formation and Steely Resolve. It comes a full 4 TURNS earlier than Resolve, and gives a one more point of defense - but only, of course, to Captain America. And Defensive Formation requires that you control 3 characters, at least two of which have range, in order to get 4 defense out of it...and this still has a negation effect!

Charging Star is a versatile combat-based card that adds greatly to Cap's stall theme. Decks running a Captain America, which look right now to be just about any Avengers deck existent, will rarely mind seeing this card.

Grade: A

So, to sum up: Captain America makes the Dean's List this semester! Congratulations! I have to thank UDE - these are some great cards they've shown us

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