Sunday, June 29, 2008

Final Crisis Analysis, pt 1

I said earlier that Final Crisis is turning out to be an issue that is pretty heavy on subtext. You can read FC#2 easily as a complete newcomer to the DC Universe and still find an enjoyable issue. However, if you don't mind digging a little deeper, Final Crisis #2 opens up into a number of crazy interpretations, a rich discussion of DC's past, present, and future. It becomes a brutal examination of the struggle between Good and Evil.

So, to spark a little interest in 'deep readings' - which I'm sure you all remember from school as a massive pain in the ass, but which are actually quite rewarding when you're doing them on something you care about - I thought I'd post this. It's from a great poster on a message board on It's an amazing breakdown of the first half of Final Crisis #2. I hope it sparks a little interest in the series - or, at the very least, sparks a little interest in sharing your own interpretations of the events of the series. It really is a fascinating rundown, so I hope you enjoy!


What follows is in no way analytical, being just some random thoughts I had while reading Final Crisis #2. Some of which aren't even about Final Crisis. Nevertheless, it demanded to be called...


"Stop! You must be supercool to proceed! Your life depends on it!"

I've talked here before about how the real Joss Whedon (as opposed to his evil clone that writes comics) considered the title of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to operate like a nightclubber bouncer; Screening those seeking admittance to the fiction. If you were cool enough to get past the title, you were cool enough to engage with what lay beyond.

Morrison previously used this sort of challenge to the reader at the start of Seven Soldiers' penultimate issue, asking "Can you imagine...Frankenstien in Fairyland?" because if you couldn't then you didn't stand any chance of keeping up with what followed. But this is the most literal use of the 'Page One Bouncer' technique imaginable, and it's a bit of a pity about the context really. Seven Soldiers had 28 slices of fried gold preceeding its direct challenge to the reader. Final Crisis had one hugely disapointing first issue.

"You must be supercool to proceed!" in this context makes even the most enthusiastic reader think ,"Grant, love. You're the one with something to prove over the next thrity-nine pages, not me."

Of course, he does prove it because the issue turns out to be screamingly brilliant, so that's alright then. OR IS IT?

Have a look at this spot-on review from CBR...
"Timothy Callahan"

"Final Crisis" is not a tour through the DC Universe. It's not a fun, light-hearted summer event. It's a deeply disturbing look at heroes under siege. And it's very good.


And have a look at this wonderfully sneaky 'praise' from Bendis...


But I've also been thinking about Final Crisis too, and remembering I had a similar reaction to the first two issues of The Filth too. I was like, what's going on here? There were giant hands! But at the end of it, I was like, 'Oh, that's the best comic I've read all year!' And I'm not even sure I got it all. And I'll read it again. And I've bought it every time it came out.

I don't know that you'll have that feeling [with Final Crisis] but you may have that feeling at the end. Not everything has to be spoon-fed. And I love to spoon feed. But that doesn't mean everything has to be the same flavor. Look, it may be the biggest 'what the fuck?' ever. But there's a track record with him that it might end up being like The Filth. Which would be awesome."


It's now obvious that Final Crisis isn't going to read much like a summer event book, but rather more like a seven issue Grant Morrison story. And Bendis' backhanded compliment there allows him to suggest that the best it could possibly turn out like is The Filth - a book which only an 'elite' of readers can understand, and which only a handful of those can stomach.

"Here's me giving the kids Independance Day," Bendis is implying, "And here's you trying to screen Bruno Dumont's L'Humanite in the same multiplex."

You don't, as has been discussed, have to have a strong background in DC continuity to follow Final Crisis. But it might turn out that you do have to be supercool to proceed. Does that really make much sense for DC's summer event? Because, and I hate to say this, an awful lot of the target audience really isn't.

"When will he realise that being fantastic is a superpower in itself?"

I wonder what we're supposed to do with the Super Young Team?
If this were Invisibles, Morrison would be directing us to love them, and if this were Seaguy he'd be directing us to hate them. We seem free to make up our own mind here. I like 'em.

Not as much as I love seeing Shilo as the man with the plan though.The DCU must see him like we see Tom Cruise, mustn't they? Big celeb who thinks we're beset by fallen-alien-god-spirit thingies.

"These super-people who built the machine made of parallel universes"

Interesting choice of words. If the Orrery we saw in the first issue isn't a way of perceiving the multiverse or a device for sustaining and regulating it, but rather a machine that's just been built out of it then there're some big questions to ask.

What would a machine built out of universes be for? What would it do? What would it produce?

If I were doing a proper critique of this issue then I'd link this with all the stuff about fire in the first issue and talk about 'the use of tools' as a major theme of the story so far, but I'm eager to get on to the next scene because it's incredible...

"Who knew the sound of breath whistling through smashed cartilage could be such a turn-on?"

Who wants to bet that is was round about here Bendis started thinking about The Filth?

Because obviously a scene of a once-decent cop brutally beating a pedophile while threatening to smash his brains open with a toilet seat doesn't belong in a superhero summer event. The superheroes haven't realised it yet - they're on the moon, almost anticiapating J'onn's ressurection because they know how the DCU's rules work - but they don't live in the DCU anymore. Evil has won the day. They're living in Sin City.

In the first issue Turpin was capable of horrible things, like mocking Vic's death, but of then immediately recognising that he'd done wrong. This Turpin keeps on with the horrible, because he belives his actions are justified, which is a huge bit of the Kirby Mythology. Look at the posters around Granny's school in the flashbacks to Scott's youth or to Godfrey's first sermon in Forever People. Darkseid doesn't work so much by inculcating evil in others, so much as by allowing them to justify thier evil to themselves and take it further.

"You're not a beast -- if you kill for Darkseid"
"You're not a liar -- if you lie for Darkseid"

You're not a thug, if you beat someone to death trying to find missing children.

But of course, there are no missing children. And if this were a film then Godfrey's simple and creepy, "But you already met the children, back in New York" would be the equivalent to "You're eating worms" in The Lost Boys. It's possible there's a metafictional joke going on here, in that Turpin's first scene strongly appears to break the continuity of the previous issue, until we get that little bit more information.

Too much going on to dwell on that though, as watching Turpin's progress lets us know how the Fallen Gods work. They're in everyone (evil was in Turpin when he made his cruel joke) but sometimes they're really in someone (Turpin's now being so fully riden by the God of Evil that Godfrey can talk to him as if he was that God).

I love the lack of any glamour attached to evil in this series. It's just brutal and ugly and nasty. The various series that've lifted Darkseid out of the Fourth World context and used him as an all-purpose Generic Evil Space Tyrant have generally tried to make him cool and majestic and awesome and stuff. But that's not really very much what evil's like. Darth Vader's cloak swishing about and the Imperial March booming away are one thing, but evil looks a lot more like the decaying body of the three year old on the news yesterday who was locked in a room full of flies and dog shit and starved to death while her mother went to the pub.

The best line in Millar's Wanted, which seems more relevant to Final Crisis by the page, is "People love facists, man. You ever met a woman who fantasised about being tied up and raped by a liberal?"

Kirby's mythos has always offered us facism without the erotic fantasy. There's a pretty obvious biographical reason for that.

His Fourth World asks a very strange question. Only that could only have arisen via the culture-fuck of one of the War generation trying to tell his most personal story while simultaneously trying to get down with the kids of the Woodstock generation; what if fascism wasn't a political ideology but was a cosmological principle? All those hideous ideas, which compelled artists to become soldiers in order to slap them down, what if they weren't just Something That Happened In Our History but were hardwired into the very mathematics of the universe?

If the logic of facism, of anti-life, were something as fundamental as that, could we still fight it? Should we still fight it?

(One of the reasons The Fourth World never feels concluded is because nobody's ever understood that and finished the saga with the "HELL YES!" it demands)

So here's how evil is in Final Crisis then. All shit and tears and smashed cartilage. It's getting Turpin hard, but hopefully we're all feeling a little ill. People might fantasise about being raped by some idealised facist, but nobody fantasises about being raped by Josef Fritzl. The Dark Side is less sexy than the one they've been selling.

"Warn the Justice League! Warn everyone!"

This doesn't just mean, "Get a big team of like, loads and loads of superheroes together!"
This means that everyone is fighting this war. On every level. You and your mum and your dad and your gran and a bucket of vindaloo.

One of the most fun things about the series so far is how it's eliminating the distinction between a 'cosmic' book and a 'street level' book. The distinction's entirely false anyway - Daredevil's struggles are all concerned with huge abstract concepts just as much a Doctor Strange's adventures are. The only difference is that in Doctor Strange's adventures the huge abstract concepts get externalised into big nasty Demon Princes and stuff, and in Daredevil's adventures then the huge abstract concepts stay internalised as Guilt and Anger and Shame and so forth.

This can be a huge problem for storytelling at the Huge Summer Event level because you've got characters who normally fight their Big Eternal Struggles inside thier heads side-by-side with characters who normally fight thier Big Eternal Struggles against the Demon Prince of Guilt, the Elder God of Anger and the Spooky Ghost of Shame. You get Spider-Man trying to fight Thanos.

But what we've got here is something that's been set up so cleverly that the conflict happening on every level is explictly the same one. This is nothing new to comics, try and argue whether Sandman, Hellblazer or Lucifer are 'street level' or 'cosmic level' books and watch the grown-ups laugh at you. But it's very unusual for a big crossover thingy to mange to set up a story in which the actions of the Question and the actions of the Spectre carry equal importance.

If you've got conciousness, you're a cosmic entity.

I wanted to write about much more of the comic than this, but I've frazzled myself out for tonigt concentrating on a single two-page scene of Turpin beating up the Mad Hatter. Sorry.

Big Events

So, we've got the Big 2, Marvel and DC, throwing down for their summer events. Secret Invasion vs. Final Crisis. One, a full-scale alien invasion of earth, as the shapeshifting Skrulls have infiltrated many important positions. The other, Earth's final hour as the God of Evil finally takes notice of earth.

The two stories are interesting in how they've morphed in the public perception, in the eyes of comic book fans. A few months back, when we knew next to nothing about the events, each had a certain image.

Secret Invasion was the clever one. It was all infiltration, secrets. "Who do you trust?" it asked. "No one," it told you. "Trust no one." Reading comics, you slowly began to pick out traitors, and Secret Invasion geared up to be one hell of an event, all shadows and subtlety.

Meanwhile, DC's behemoth, Final Crisis, was coming, and the only thing people knew about it, the only thing that was expected, was that it would be huge. While SI was acting like a spy drama, people expected Final Crisis to be the action movie super blockbuster of the decade.

It's interesting how things change, isn't it?

A few issues into Secret Invasion, that perception has been turned inside out. After a pretty solid first issue, the series nose-dived into mediocrity. Fans of the series admitted that more important reveals were happening in Mighty and New Avengers, and the main book had degenerated into a slower-than-average beat-'em-up. It's not bad - Bendis does great dialogue, and he's good at giving the fans what they want to see. And the brilliant main plot twist of the series, the arrival of a ship full of 70's era heroes, is still paying dividends. But House of M comparisons are already starting, and Bendis has always had trouble with the crowd-pleasing bravado of Mark Millar. Still, Bendis is clearly trying to make SI into THE summer blockbuster, and with his gift for a twisty plot, his use of all of Marvel's biggest guns, and his numerous spin-offs and tie-ins and 3-4 alternate collectors covers per issue, he looks to be succeeding.

Meanwhile, we're two issues into DC's Final Crisis, and expectations have been turned on their head. The first issue, even to hardcore supporters of DC and Morrison, was lackluster. A great deal was set-up, but nothing happened, and for what was supposed to be a SFX blockbuster, there was precious little action. Instead, there was a strong focus on little-known characters, a move that pissed off a lot of fans, and a slow build of dread that had been undermined more than a little by the Countdown fiasco. The second issue, however, gave a far clearer picture of what is to be expected. Final Crisis #2 was filled with larger-than-life concepts, a clear and concise continuation and/or ending of Jack Kirby's Fourth World. Final Crisis #2 was filled with disgust and betrayal - but again, little action. Instead, Morrison is positioning Final Crisis to take the mantle of the intellectual event, writing a book that lends itself to dissection and frequent re-readings. And while Final Crisis may still be talking about in 5 or 10 years as a masterpiece (or it very well may not), right now there's the very immediate issue that people generally prefer the blockbuster to the slow boil. We shall see.

This write-up exists as an examination of the series, but more-so, as a recommendation to any VS fans reading this. I don't know your tastes, so I can't say what you are looking for in your comics. If you want a blockbuster, a twisty action thriller, you want Secret Invasion. If you want a brutal examination of Good vs Evil in man's struggle against something much greater than itself, you want Final Crisis. Whichever way you go, though, it's a damn good time to be a comics fan.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

re: Shiloh Norman <> Mr. Miracle, Soldier of Victory

So, I talked earlier about my desire to use him in a deck. Then, I decided upon Marvel Knights, largely because it's been awhile since I built a Marvel Knights deck. Thankfully, MK had Daredevil, Kitchen Cleanser, an almost perfect counter-part to Shiloh. However, burning as much life as I was likely to be burning through, I decided that it would be a pretty decent idea to include a little life-gain lovin', and why not use another team that often goes neglected for me: the Heralds of Galactus, one of the better life-gain decks in the game.

I was all set to begin building when, to no surprise to anyone, Marvel Universe came out, offering me a good deal more options. Now, obviously, we want to slow down the game. We want to slow it down a lot. There are a few recent cards that help with that that we'll be throwing in here...

Dirty Tricks
Cost: 3
Ongoing: Characters get -1 ATK.


Empire's End
Cost: 4
Play only during the build phase.
Ongoing: Characters that entered play this turn get -2 ATK.

Well, those are pretty decent in terms of staying alive.

Shilo Norman <> Mr. Miracle
Daredevil, Kitchen Cleanser

Dirty Tricks
Empire's End
The Herald Ordeal, Team-Up
Neighborhood Watch, Team-Up

Right now we've only got a 3-drop and a 5-drop. We need a Heralds character somewhere...

Silver Surfer, Skyrider of the Spaceways
Heralds of Galactus
ATK: 3
DEF: 2
Cosmic: Activate -> Search your deck for a card with cost 4 or greater, reveal it, and put it on the top of your deck.

And where would he be without his board?

Silver Surfer's Board
Equip only to Silver Surfer.
Exhaust Silver Surfer's Board -> Put a cosmic counter on a cosmic character you control. You may move equipped character to your hidden or visible area.

Why do we need his board? His board is only really helpful if you've got some Cosmic character on the field. If we're gaining endurance, and we want a cosmic character, and we need a 4-drop...

Human Torch, The Invisible Man
Team: Heralds of Galactus, Fantastic Four
ATK: 7
DEF: 7
Heralds of Galactus defenders you control have reinforcement.
Cosmic: If a character you control would cause breakthrough, instead, gain that much endurance.

That gives us

Silver Surfer, Skyrider of the Spaceways

Shilo Norman <> Mr. Miracle, Soldier of Victory

Human Torch, Invisible Man

Daredevil, Kitchen Cleanser

That's an ideal curve - but if we know anything, it's that we aren't going to always get our ideal curve. And we should probably pad out our curve a little.

On one, we have some options...

Frank Drake, Nightstalker
Black Cat, Thrillseeker
Galan, Famished

On two...
Blade, Nightstalker
Punisher, Suicide Run

On three...
Echo, Masterless Samurai
Air-Walker, Gabriel Lan

So, what are our options here?

Well, Black Cat would be quite helpful - but there's the downside, after the first few turns, we probably won't be hitting anyone directly.

Frank Drake is pretty nice. He can get out of the way when we need him to, and he helps us get over our hurdles for Dirty Tricks to get some stuns in on the offensive.

Galan...well, he just gives us endurance.

If we ran one-drops, it would probably be Frank Drake and Galan - but do we really want to run one-drops?

On twos, we've got two decent choices.

Blade is nice. He'll keep the opponent's characters locked down after Daredevil or Shilo lock him down, but his discard cost can be steep over the course of the game, and since he's visible, there's no way to guarantee he won't just get slammed first.

Punisher, on the other hand, can wait until I stun an important character then get himself scarce. He can exhaust to pay the costs of effects and still use his ability, and the fact that he's hidden means he can probably stick around until we need him. I think Punisher will be our alternate 2-drop.

On the three-drops?

Well, Air-Walker is nice. His 3 attack hardly matters, and his exhaustion ability definitely helps lessen the amount of damage we'll take. All around, Air-Walker is a solid back-up.

Unfortunately, Echo is another decent choice for an alternate 3. Echo will get stunned, but Echo is probably the most reliable way we have to get the stuns on our opponent. Her 0 ATK isn't really a drawback in this deck and with her ability. Still, I think Air-Walker is the way to go here.

So, if we go over what we've got, we have...

Silver Surfer, Skyrider of the Spaceways
Punisher, Suicide Run

Shilo Norman <> Mr. Miracle, Soldier of Victory
Air-Walker, Gabriel Lan

Human Torch, Invisible Man

Daredevil, Kitchen Cleanser

So, how are we going to kill? The obvious choice would be Galactus on turn 9 - with Silver Surfer, The Last Zenn-Lavian's help, that could be brought down to turn 8. I think we stand a pretty fair chance of lasting 'til turn 8 as is against some decks, though not all.

That's all we're going to do today, but we're getting close to being done with the deck. Will it work? Who knows. Will it be fun? It generally is.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend, and more regular updates will be coming up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marvel Universe Draft

I suppose I'll start off apologizing - I realize that I waited awhile to update. On the upside, and this is the unfortunate reason for the delay, I am done with finals and I have graduated from Ohio University. I have moved back home for the summer as I prepare for graduate school, and am working as a camp counselor for middle school children. All-in-all, a number of reasons for not updating, but I was nonetheless not updating. Apologies!

Wow. MUN draft is everything that the disaster that MVL draft wasn't. There are a variety of strategies ranging in complexity and style. I ended up taking 2nd place in our 7-man draft after 2 wins, a loss, and a bye - and I did it without a single damn attack pump! I will say, having fully a third of your deck consisting of spot-reinforcement, especially when combined with cards like Baron Strucker, can be pretty brutal when very few, if any, people have access to tricks that blow reinforcement.

One of my favorite parts of DC Legends draft is the fact that that all the teams worked together. MVL was a simple case of picking a big character and turning it sideways. Team themes didn't matter. In MUN, this is no longer the case. You find that due to a frankly embarrassing amount of dual-affiliation, everyone works with everything in a glorious explosion of Vs - a Vs Explosion, one might call it if one happened to have that as his blog address. Theoretically.

So, we drafted a couple days back. I hadn't yet had a chance to draft, and I hadn't been looking at draft strategies online, so I wasn't sure what was viable and what wasn't. I thought that Avengers would be huge, as would SHIELD, while Thunderbolts would be a tough play, even if no one else was playing it. Knowing very little about the set except, of course, what was previewed (Thunderbolts Mountain for the WIN?) and a brief look at the full set spoiler posted a few days ago, I decided to try and force-draft Crime Lords. Why? Well...because they're the Crime Lords. I really don't have a better reason than that.

Anyway - first pack, I saw 3-drop Red Skull. The pack rare was Avengers stamped, and I suspected Avengers would go big. I had the advantage of knowing exactly what the person to my left was forcing: Warbound. I wasn't worried about him stealing my stuff. Another guy at the table was definitely going to be stealing the Thunderbolts stuff, so I was safe there. There were four people I were unsure about, but I figured I'd be the only one pulling all the Crime Lords stuff. I was wrong, of course, but not by much.

I tried to keep just pulling Crime Lords stuff. I got Crossbones, Sin, and a few of the 1-drop Crime Lords army character that spot-reinforces. On top of that, I got Radically Advanced, the Red Skull legend plot twist, and things seemed to be going well. I ended up getting Cosmic Control Rod shoved on me, but I didn't mind too much, because I was shaping up to have a decent Crime Lords curve, though I had by now noticed that there was a strange lack of CL attack pumps.

Pack 2 came out, and I was a little disappointed - not a single crime lords card I wanted to pull. I ended up taking one of the Negative Zones (Harvester of Sorrows), as it didn't require I control a NZ character. Next pack had Sin in it, so I yanked her out, but the pack after that, again, had no CL characters I particularly needed. I ended up pulling a second Negative Zone, again because it didn't require that I control a NZ character. Pack after that? Again, a lack of Crime Lords.

It was here that I began to suspect that someone else might have been playing Crime Lords. I went through round two, pulling whatever CL cards I could, including 7-drop Red Skull and two copies of 6-drop Baron Strucker, but other than that, round two was dedicated to pulling all the Negative Zone cards I could. Round three came, and I had a pretty strong suite of support cards for Negative Zone and Crime Lords, but not nearly as many characters as I knew I needed. I always over-pull either on support or on characters, and this time, it was support.

First pack I opened, I pulled Blastaar as my rare, and considering that I had three Negative Zones, I figured that it his downside wasn't too much of a downside. I pulled another Negative Zone, bringing me up to 4 total, and I pulled 5-drop Annihilus and two 4-drop Centurions.

Despite my lack of attack pumps, I thought my deck was pretty tricky for a draft deck. I'd be gaining life and drawing cards from my Negative Zones, and if I got lucky, like I did against the Warbound deck, the rare Negative Zone that KO's would hit the field, and I would be controlling the board pretty fiercely.

Round 1: Crime Lords/Negative Zone vs Avengers Reservist

My tendency to overpull support cards nearly killed me here, as on turn 5, I took over 20 damage, only hitting a 5-drop and a 3-drop the entire damn game up to that point. He had me at 20, while he was sitting comfortably at 43 going into turn 6.

Baron Strucker came out, and he sat pretty in front of my off-team off-theme She-Hulk. Strucker swung into his 5-drop, dealing a little breakthrough and taking him below 40, and then I waited for swing-backs. He threw his 6 into Strucker, but spot reinforcement and spot invulnerability meant he was taking 6 while I was taking nothing, and it meant that he had no other attacks that turn - he wanted a big board for his swings next turn.

Next turn, he under-dropped a few Young Avengers, planning to team attack into my 5 and 6 and...7, as 7-drop Red Skull hit play. He had enough flight to take down Red Skull, but he could only get a single stun on Strucker, and She-Hulk. I let She-Hulk out of her misery, and recovered Red Skull.

Turn 8, Blastaar came down, and my opponent winced. I should have been at 3 endurance, but thanks to having two Harvester of Sorrows, I actually had more than 10 endurance. Radically Advanced was flipped, and Blastaar took out his 6-drop, who had been placed to squeeze out some reinforcement, gaining me 6 and losing him 6. I believe it pretty much ended there, with me coming from more than a 20-point deficit to pull out a win.

Round 2: Crime Lords/Negative Zone vs. Warbound

This match, I was worried about. I wasn't sure if he had found the 2-drop Warbound character who blew reinforcement, but I eventually learned that he did not, in fact, have said character, and from then on, I was sailing. Wrongfully, I learned - while I had strokes of good luck, he made it so that whenever a Hulk he controlled stunned a character, that character was KO'd. Worse yet, I didn't hit a team-up until turn 8!

With Blastaar free-stunning his enormous Hulks, I was able to avoid that fate fairly often by the time it was a serious problem, and the Negative Zone that KO'd his people was an enormous help towards keeping his board exactly as I wanted it, but even the end of the match, I had him at 0 endurance, and he was barely there. He had a stronger early game and a stronger late game, but I got lucky in the middle, and I had too much reinforcement to punch through the damage he needed to kill me. It was a close game, and he bled my character count dry, but in the end, the Warbound were shut down by the simple AIM Agents.

Round 3: Crime Lords/Negative Zone vs. Cap Legends

You hear me right. One member of the draft got, and I'm not kidding: 2 copies of 2-drop Cap, a 6-drop Cap, Cap's Shield, Shield Slash x2, and Stars and Stripes. On top of all the Cap stuff, he pulled a full Avengers reservist curve, including 3 copies of The Big Three. In the end...what could I do against such a ridiculous draft deck? Well, a lot, as it turns out.

My first big stroke of luck came on turn 6. He wanted to kill, and with a 4-6 curve, he played 3 copies of The Big 3, paying the full replace costs - a board-wide +6 ATK for the turn. He thought he had me, but Sin gave me a free reinforce, AIM Agents gave me a second freebie, and his final attack, which he was positive would deal me some serious hurt, was blown out by a No Retreat, No Surrender. I was sailing high going into next turn, as I wasn't losing anything particularly big and that's when Blastaar came down. Unfortunately, 6-drop Cap is kind of a buzz-kill when it comes to using Blastaar's ability - I had to use it on Cap, and that left me with barely enough attack power to swing back into Iron Man. Still, I was able to do so - not that it mattered, as he flipped Stars and Stripes and paid himself down to 5 endurance to recover Captain America. While we were both going into turn 8 with our 5, 6, and 7, I just didn't have the defensive power necessary to surviving his attacks and he knocked me to well-below -10. I struck back...but it was too little, too late, and I got my first loss.

Round 4: Bye

That's all I got for that one.

This earned me 2nd place in the 7-man draft, netting me an extra pack.

We divvied up the rares and each got our fair share of 'em. Our host, who had paid for another guy to get in and thus was claiming his prize cards on top, said that he would abandon all his further picks if he got the Captain America, Champion License, Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty, and the Captain America's Shield. The rest of us didn't much care, and so we let him take 'em, then we dug in. I ended up with a pretty good haul

Carrying the Torch
Vision, Young Avenger
Wolverine, Secret Avenger

and a few others. I also got the bulk of the commons and uncommons needed for my SHIELD/Crime Lords deck, and traded for a Ninjas! Ninjas! Ninjas! from another one of the players present, as well as getting a 3-drop James Barnes <> Winter Soldier, a Mandarin, and one or two other Crimes Lords rares in return for my Charging Star. There was some good trading going on at 2 AM. Or some bad trading. We aren't quite sure.

MUN Draft was a pretty good experience. It was fun and unpredictable, with a variety of interesting strategies available. The number of ways to prevent taking damage is barely exceeded by the number of ways to push through all that damage. It was an enjoyable draft, even if I did have to return to really, really bad paper writing as soon as the draft ended. Okay, as soon as the draft and then Starship Troopers ended. Okay, the draft, Starship Troopers, and a few more chapters of Cursor's Fury. An my...okay, you know what, you get the point. The paper-writing sucked, the draft rocked, and everything in between was just peaches and cream.

Have a great night! Tomorrow after work, I'm going to call around my new area and see if anyone has any MUN left. I doubt it, but anything's possible.

And to my Athens group - I'm gonna miss playing with you guys. I don't know if I'll find a VS group in Pittsburgh half as good, but I'll be lucky if I do. Hopefully, I'll be able to afford Worlds, but I doubt it. If I don't see you there...well, then, good luck, and I hope you keep rockin' out some crazy decks!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Marvel Universe

Well, my local store was able to get ahold of 2 boxes of Marvel Universe. 1 box went to our draft tonight - more on that tomorrow - and a half box went to the first person to get to the store. I abandoned my paper writing, everything, and blew my dinner money for the next week to get the last half a box. It's probably the last Marvel Universe sealed product I will ever lay my hands on.

Anyway - onto my pulls!

1x Hydra Armageddon Carrier
1x Cosmic Cube
1x Thanos, The Mad Titan
1x Stark Armory
1x Charging Star
1x The Sentry (Foil)
1x I'm A Futurist
1x Warbound to the End
1x James Barnes <> Bucky, Kid Commando
1x Thing, Conscientious Objector
1x Fin Fang Foom, He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains
1x Maverick, Christopher Nord
1x The Beyonder, Inhuman

12 packs. There's some good stuff in there. Stark Armory, Charging Star, Thanos, I'm a Futurist, etc... Of course, I pulled a single copy of Captain America 2 and nothing else, and I didn't see a single copy of Iron Man of any sort. Still, I'm gonna be doing some trading, and I'll post the results of my trades, and the draft, tomorrow.

For now, I have 9 hours to complete a 10 page paper comparing the societal commentary of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with that of Gurinder Chadha's Bride and Prejudice.

Never EVER be an English major.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Building Marvel Soldiers

Daredevil, Kitchen Cleanser
Cost: 5
Team: Marvel Knights
ATK: 9
DEF: 9
[Activate] -> Remove any number of target attackers from this attack. Lose endurance equal to the combined cost of characters removed this way.

When I said that I wanted to make a deck utilizing Shiloh Norman <> Mr. Miracle, my mind first popped over to the Marvel Knights. It did that largely because of Neighborhood Watch. I initially thought that Shiloh had Loyalty, and so could only be played with the Marvel Knights. I was wrong, of course. I am sometimes an idiot. However, when I was looking through the available Marvel Knights characters for some decent stall choices, I noticed a stand-out. Daredevil, Kitchen Cleanser.

Daredevil's effect is remarkably similar to Shiloh's, with the same strengths and weaknesses. Much like Shiloh, it's an effect that essentially burns through your endurance but, in return, forces an opponent to burn through an attack to get what they want. He's tough to get rid of, but he does have one important downside: the endurance cost. Between paying 3 endurance for Shiloh and a varying amount of endurance with Daredevil, you need to be gaining a lot of endurance, and I'm sorry to say, Marvel Knights just doesn't do too much of that.

Right now, we've only got three cards in for sure.

3x Daredevil, Kitchen Cleanser
4x Shiloh Norman <> Mr. Miracle, Soldier of Victory
4x Neighborhood Watch, Team-Up

Now, in order for this to work, we're going to need to team-up, so in lieu of anything fancy, I'm going to add in a generic team-up - The Multiverse, Team-Up - four of 'em, I think.

Now, that's the core. And one of the strengths of that core is, of course, Neighborhood Watch, which will allow you to name any team. But would any team really help us do what we want?

Well, Heralds of Galactus certainly have one or two cards that help us with our endurance problems - not to mention, of course, a good game ender for any stall deck in the Big Galactus himself. So what cards might be helpful in our deck?

Cosmic Necessity may not be bad - it's a card that will net us either two cards, or 5 endurance, at the cost of exhausting Shiloh Norman, who we'll probably be stunning every single turn anyway. I Hunger is a great card for helping us lower the amount of endurance we'll be losing, and Inspiring Demise is great for throwing down to keep your board presence, even if it does net your opponent some endurance. And wouldn't The Herald Ordeal, Team-Up be a more versatile generic team-up for this deck than The Multiverse? I think it would be.

So, right now, we have three teams, working together to make sure that an opponent won't be busting through your defenses anytime soon. The Heralds will keep you alive as the New Gods and the Marvel Knights work in tandem to shut your opponent down. Will this work? I have absolutely no idea - but I like the idea. In a couple days, we'll work to nail down the characters a little more, and with that done, we'll be able to settle on some plot twists.