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!

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