Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Get ready to feel like a real American after you spend a day drinking and eating until you literally feel ill. And then, eating just a little bit more.

My first batch of MEV cards should be arriving in a few days, so expect to begin to see thoughts on the set start pouring out soon. Because, you know, I'm sure you aren't COMPLETELY SICK OF IT by now.

There will be an Awesome Thanksgiving Image put up... uh... soon. When I find one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MEV Preview: Kid Omega

Have any of you ever felt the bracing sting of rejection? I’m sure you have – most people do, at some point in their lives. It can be a pretty powerful feeling.

Kid Omega, the name chosen by mutant Quentin Quire, is a telepath who thinks thousands of brilliant thoughts ever second of every day. Naturally, he went insane. But while he was insane, he was still motivated by emotions that we can all understand – and I think that, for Quire, the defining feeling is one of rejection.

Rejected by the world at large for being born different, Quire lashed out. Rejected by the ‘cool’ kids at school, Quire proved that he was better. But, in the way of young men, he just couldn’t defeat rejection at the hands of the girl(s) of his dreams, and it was their disapproval that ultimately destroyed him, literally and metaphorically.

Quire is one of the few Omega level mutants, and it’s probably best for the world that he can no longer influence us, having moved somehow beyond our plane of existence – though, of course, in comics, who knows how long such a person will stay dead? – but we aren’t half so lucky in VS as Quire makes his debut as an unaffiliated common 7-drop.

Now, hold on, hold on, I know what you’re saying. “Oh… so you mean, ‘Quire makes his debut as a card that will never see play’?”

No, that’s not at all what I mean.

Here. I’ll prove it to you.

How do you like them apples.

Much like in the comics, Quire is on his own team – it’s not a matter of Magneto or Xavier being right so much as it is a matter of Quire knowing best. He neither wants nor needs your support. And if he’s powerful while in play, a 16/16 7-drop with range, he’s best when influencing the game from behind the scenes.

Once you get 5 Shift counters on young Kid Omega, your opponent starts to feel the hurt, drawing one fewer card each turn - and while that may not seem like a lot, in decks like the Future Foes, already making opponents discard, Quire could navigate opponents into a situation where they have to choose between laying a resource and playing a character. So, against decks that lack card draw, that would definitely qualify as a kiss of death. Good thing his power comes with the hefty cost of 5 resource points, huh?

Quire is an excellent tool in a variety of decks, offering a powerful boardwide effect that can’t be hit by today’s most popular effects – like Pathetic Attempt, to immediately call out the first thing out of some people's mouths on every single preview. And while unaffiliated characters have traditionally been able to have significantly more power thanks to the lack of search effects for them, the introduction of cards like Super Hero Registration Act allows you to search Quire out starting as early as turn 3 to get him online. Still, for an effect as powerful as the one offered here, I think that there are definitely some decks that would consider using Kid Omega as their mulligan condition, even considering his variety of limitations.

If you're at all interested in this twisted teen genius, Grant Morrison's New X-Men is the definitive X-Men run of all time, for my money, and well worth a read.

If you're just interested in reading a quick history of Quentin Quire, though, I kindly provide.

Part 1
Part 2

Hope you've enjoyed the previews - I know I have!

Friday, November 14, 2008


If you've read my blog ever, you probably know that I'm a pretty huge comic book nerd. If you're read my blog for more than two days, you probably know that a lot of the books that I like are a smidge off the beaten path. Not too far off...just a little to the side. Through my 'The Best Books You Aren't Reading', I offered a series of articles, and will continue to offer them, pointing out little-read books that deserves your attention. Unfortunately, I am now left to demonstrate what happens when they don't actually get your attention.

I must warn you all - this is an image-heavy post, and it is a bile-heavy post. While the fires of my wrath have cooled, there is still a lingering aftertaste of anger in my mouth, and this will seep through at time. For the most part, though, this is meant to be a relatively loving post. If you don't want me to insult you and everything you love repeatedly, I'd recommend you stop reading right now and move on your way.

Blue Beetle: Cancelled
- Blue Beetle was one of the best teen comics out there. A pitch-perfect blend of comedy, drama and action, Jaime Reyes was one of the best new characters of the decade, and I'll hold his supporting cast up against any in comics in a heartbeat. After John Rogers left, we saw Will Pfiefer and Matt Sturges each take a turn with the character, and through some arcane magic, each was still awesome. Blue Beetle deserved much more than it ever got, but that's okay - its readers will remember it fondly for a good, long while....

Checkmate: Cancelled
- Checkmate is another book to come out of the overbearing, overlarge, overambitious Infinite Crisis. Written by Greg Rucka, it detailed a United Nations-run Peacekeeping Organization and the crazy stuff they go through in a world like the DC Universe. Imagine Marvel's S.H.E.I.L.D. if someone bright and uncynical were writing it. Always clever, Checkmate gave us an enormous cast of B-D list characters and made them all awesome in their own way. For a time in comics that many fans claim to be a bitter, depressing era, Checkmate was a beacon of hope, offering relatively complex metahuman espionage, new characters, and an infinitely more satisfying answer to the question of lethal force in superhero comics. Of all the new characters Rucka created in his run of Checkmate #1-25, perhaps my favorite is Josephine Tautin, known as Mademoiselle Marie.
Checkmate wasn't perfect - it was often wordy and many were turned off by the occasional moral grey areas in which the characters found themselves - but in a comicdom populated frequently by bitter naivete and fanboy pacification, Checkmate managed a strong run.

Criminal: Cancelled.
- Criminal. Ah, why am I not even remotely surprised to see you on this list? Every arc, you introduced us to new characters. Every single arc. The lack of a recurring cast certainly couldn't have helped you out. The fact that almost every character in the setting was a dirtball of some sort also couldn't have helped. Where Checkmate let it's characters occasionally visit moral grey areas, Criminal lived in them. Solid writing from Ed Brubaker combined well with art from Sean Phillips that perfectly complemented the noir stylings, Criminal was a rock solid love letter to comics and to noir. Dark and slow-paced, it was never destined to be a big seller, but I'm still sad that it is going away.

EDIT: As a note, I have had my tragic misinformation fixed, and return to you a cleaner, happier man - Criminal remains. While it will be taking a break for the beginning of Incognito, it is not dead, merely napping. Rarely have I been happier to be wrong.

To Sean Phillips (!) for correcting me: merci beaucoup, どうもありがとう, and stay classy.

To everyone else: go give Criminal a shot!

Birds of Prey: Cancelled
- It's sad to see Birds of Prey on this list, but when excellent writer Gail Simone left the book to move on to Wonder Woman and Secret Six, you can bet that we all saw this coming. Birds of Prey, under Gail Simone, turned out to be a fun, clever action book that served to flesh out the characters of a number of the premier heroines of the DC Universe - most notably, of course, Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, and Huntress.
After Barbara Gordon was shot in the spine by the Joker in an attempt to torture and drive insane her father, Commissioner James Gordon, she was devastated. As Batgirl, she had always fought hard at Batman's side. It wasn't until John Ostrander used her in his Suicide Squad mini as the enigmatic Oracle, though, that her crime-fighting career really took off. As Batgirl, she beat up muggers. As Oracle, she masterminded the information technology of the DC Universe. Quickly becoming a vital organizational hub, Oracle and her team of superheroes-turned-spies had some awesome adventures.
With the cancellation, we've been assured that we're getting a wonderful Oracle mini. I somehow suspect that this will see her return to Gotham City as the sidekick of Batman, and will be written by whoever does it cheapest. I'm sure it will make money, but Birds of Prey was a great lens through which we could see all the heroines of the DC Universe treated, as they so rarely are, with a little respect. Here's to hoping that DC doesn't forget this lesson, shove these characters out of the way, and relegate them to sidekicks of their male peers.

Manhunter: Cancelled
- This one comes as a surprise to precisely no one. Cancelled once, Manhunter was saved by one of the most passionate fanbases I've ever seen. Cancelled a second time, they redoubled their efforts, trade sales did well, the book got brought back. Unfortunately, it got brought back without telling anyone about it, and to an arc that, while decent, wasn't quite up to the quality of the rest of the run. And so now, it's on its last legs, on the verge of cancellation once more.
Manhunter shouldn't have been good. Overly violent without offering any real danger while having a super-complex, almost incestuous relationship with DC's deepest continuity, it should have been purely mediocre. Instead, it offered a great supporting cast, from one of the only well-done gay relationships in comics to the novel support of a former tech-geek for supervillains who entered the Witness Protection Program. It also offered a no-nonsense, smoking single mother as a heroine willing to kill - and who thought that'd come from DC?

The All-New Atom: Cancelled
- The All-New Atom was, much like Blue Beetle, hampered in large part by a whiny, clingy fanbase that pouted the book to death because it wasn't veteran Atom Ray Palmer helming, but newcomer Ryan Choi. If I'm being honest, and I rarely am, then I will say that it was also hampered by a creative attitude that comics don't like - which is to say, that of almost manic creativity. Ivy Town was a bizarre, surreal place, a place that I couldn't picture existing anywhere but in the DCU, but which feels almost completely necessary to the DCU. Severely warped by the bizarre super-science occurring in the town, Ivy Town feels like the setting of a David Lynch movie, if David Lynch was on crack and had a 500,000,000,000$ budget.
A perfect blend of action and comedy, of the mystic and super-science, The All-New Atom was doomed from the start. But throughout Gail Simone's run, it was an enjoyable book, and I'd highly recommend that you give it a shot.

Shadowpact: Cancelled
- Once again, say it with me: Shadowpact spun out of Infinite Crisis. Shadowpact was a book dedicated to a team of magical misfits. Wow, who didn't see this cancellation coming. I'm sure some of you have heard my thoughts on the fanboy opinion of magic, and they all worked against this book.
"Why," posits the fanboy, "would I want to read a fun, well-written book with good art? There are people casting spells fer chrissakes."
" just said so yourself - 'tis a fun, well-written book with pretty good art," quoth I.
"Ah," laughs the fanboy. "You misunderstand. Magic is totally for fags, my friend. Because I am Super Manly, I am going to read Wolverine."
"But," beginneth I, "is not Wolverine essentially magic? What with the whole 'a billion tons of super-metal welded to the spine of a midget who can heal from anything in seconds?"
"No," answers the fanboy. "No. That, my friend, is Science."
There may have been some exaggeration, or a vast amount of imagination, in that conversation, seasoned with bitterness and left in the oven far too long, but Shadowpact nonetheless had just such a problem, as have many other books in recent days. I can't say that highly-publicized stories like Spider-Man's frankly embarrassing 'One More Day' are much of a help in converting people to the 'magic is fine in the hands of a decent writer' side of things, though.
It's unfair, though - for all that Shadowpact was a pretty good book, it was far from the breathtaking example of awesome that was Blue Beetle or The All-New Atom. It was just...good. You picked up an issue of Shadowpact, you knew you were getting a pretty quality comic. Simple as that. It's unfortunate that it didn't last longer, and got spun into the current relatively average mini-series 'Reign in Hell', but it was fun while it lasted.


I could, of course, go on. A bunch of books have been cancelled in recent months that seem to be heralding some sort of bizarre comic book armageddon, while perennial mediocrities like Green Lantern swim in a vast pool of adoration.

Still, why focus on the bad? Sometimes you must, I admit, to clear yourself, to prepare yourself for more wholesome fare in the future. And thus shall I do. I recent months, I have let slack my list of The Best Books You Aren't Reading. An enormous part of this is because I am reasonably sure that they are not widely-read. Of the audience of this blog with which I am familiar, few have the resources or interest to pick up a comic book merely on my say so, however awesome my say so might be.

However, as someone who is absolutely convinced that I have better taste than everyone else alive - well, okay, not everyone else, but, I have better taste than at least five living people right now, and that'll have to do for you all - I feel a peculiar responsibility to nonetheless inform you of all the juicy offerings that are out there, waiting for you to come and save them, or at least distract them from their imminent doom.

And so with that, I leave you. I hope all of you have a fabulous night, and I hope that I will be forgiven for interjecting the occasional less-than-polite comment. Not every insult is directed at you, faceless fanboy - they are merely comments on broad, sad trends I occasionally see pop up. I shall, I swear to you all, be more hopeful from here on out.

At least until the next Cancellation Season.

Signing off,
-Still bitter about the cancellation of Veronica Mars

New Watchmen Trailer

For those interested in such things, a new trailer was released for the upcoming Watchmen film.

Okay, looks good. I get that we're supposed to be excited. Hell, I am excited, and I'm not the biggest Watchmen fan on Earth. But...does anyone else think it's a little odd that we keep getting new trailers and images for a movie that won't be out for 4 more months?

Now, yeah, it worked for Dark Knight. I was worried there, too, that all the good bits would be in the trailers (not my biggest Watchmen worry, but that's for later), since we got, y'know, seven thousand different trailers. And yet, TDK still managed to honestly wow me in a way that a movie hasn't in quite some time now. I hope Watchmen will manage something similar.

Watchmen, though...I just don't know how it will translate to film. Yes, I would qualify Watchmen as literature...but is a literal, almost shot-for-panel adaptation the best way to preserve that? Or, is that merely spending a frankly embarrassing amount of money jerking off Alan Moore? I mean, not saying the man doesn't deserve it after what happened to From Hell, V for Vendetta, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen...but it just seems like a shot-for-panel adaptation is a little...hollow?

Maybe it's just nerves before the movie comes out. Watchmen was, after all, a huge step forward for comics nerds. It has also pretty widely been considered unfilmable. If it works? Who knows what other 'unfilmable' comics might get a shot?

And if nothing else, there's the additional bonus that the first trailer, well-placed before the best-selling movie of the '00's, dramatically upped the sales of the Watchmen collections.

Anyway, hope you all have a great day. With a lack of VSRealms, I shall make a more VSsy post soon, as well as some 'posts ordering you to go read awesome comics, and probably a few other things.

Stay classy, lady and two gents.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MEV Preview: Karolina Dean

By now, of course, you’ve all seen the fantastic Runaways previews over at the VS System facebook page. From those two powerful cards, Old Lace and Victor Mancha, you can clearly see what the Runaways are all about.


When was the last time VS had a good decking team? The Secret Society of DJL had a fair bit of it, but were generally more powerful when they tore their own deck apart. Michael Barnes made a dedicated discard deck way back when, teaming up Secret Society, Injustice Gang, and Underworld, as well as a number of others, but despite how hard some players might have tried to pull off an Emperor Joker win, it’s always remained relatively elusive.

Blessedly, no more. The Runaways seem to have a powerful core- Victor can tear through an opponent’s deck with alarming rapidity all the way until we arrive at Old Lace, a classy alternate win condition.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to another Runaways standby, Karolina Dean, also known as…Lucy in the Sky.

Karolina Dean offers a solid alternative to Victor (especially for those who build on a me) while also definitely complementing him. She’s a respectable under-drop, thanks to her ability. Your opponent knows that, if they swing down-curve into her, there’s a fair chance that they’re getting stunned back, thanks to her persistent DEF-lowering ability, and she makes DEF pumps on your opponent’s behalf a risky proposition, as her ability makes her a permanent attack pump just waiting for an opponent to try you.

The logical problem is, of course, the fact that Karolina Dean is a 4/5 3-drop – all your opponent needs to do is swing their 3 into her, and leave their 4 free to wreck your board, a problem compounded by a need to underdrop if you want her and Victor out at the same time. Thanks to flight and range, however, that’s less of a worry – she can be shoved into the back row so that you can guarantee to make the best of each turn, whether that involves attacking with her or letting her ability fire.

Of course, if you don’t want to underdrop, Victor is obviously your best bet on 3 in a dedicated deck destruction theme, and Karolina adds the always risky prospect of introducing a little too much luck into your game. After all, you could hit a low-drop they no longer need, giving you a minimal pump and filtering their deck of chaff. Karolina, however, has one specific area in which she shines.

Sealed play.

Karolina Dean is a 4/5 3-drop with flight and range – already a decent body, she adds a persistent attack pump to your sealed deck. And while you might not see Victor and Old Lace in your packs, chances are fair that Karolina will pop up. Milling a single card of a sixty card deck is notably less impressive than milling a single card of a thirty card deck, and when you add on to that the fact that she can lower the DEF of an opposing character every turn, she becomes a solid play, on or off team.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Remember to Vote!

(language NSFW)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

VS: Bring Your Own Two Teams - Avengers/Squadron Supreme Edition

Most of you know by now my fascination with the Avengers team-attack theme, and my desperate wish that they had gotten an effect reminiscent of Legendary Battles and of Playroom in MUN, especially now that my favorite theme is trapped in the hellish limbo known as Golden Age play. You also know that, after BYOTT was announced, they were the first deck I built and presented to you all.

Now, I was planning on doing a segment today trying to utilize Warworld for the BYOTT format, but the deck I had built just wasn't doing it for me. That isn't to say that it wasn't good - most of the decks I present to you are average, more theory than gameplay. It just wasn't satisfying enough, I suppose.

However, while combing through the cards that I thought I would enjoy using Warworld with, I began to look at Squadron Supreme. Squad was the first 'competitive' deck I ever built, and by that, I mean it was the first deck that my friends essentially gave me, with the sage advice to "Stop playing that frankly embarrassing Kang Lords X concoction and try and win a freaking game." They quickly came to regret this act of charity.

But we all know that the Squad No-Hand theme could be explosive. And I'm sure that most of you were aware that Squad had another theme. "Yes," I hear you say. "They had the No-Hand theme, and they had a theme that involved getting rid of the cards in their hand, right?"

"No," I say to you, "but verily didst they have a theme in which they did absolutely no breakthrough for any reason. And I do not know why."

One of the most potent cards this theme brought us was called Project Utopia, and it reads as follows....

Project Utopia
Choose a Squadron Supreme character you control.
Ongoing: Whenever the chosen character stuns a defender, that defender's controller loses 4 endurance.

Whenever the chosen character causes breakthrough, KO it.

Well, when I saw this card during the building of my Warworld deck, I certainly went, "...Quicksilver!" and thus was this deck born.

4x Jarvis, Honorary Avenger
2x Rick Jones, Hero’s Best Friend
2x Speed, Thomas Shepard * Young Avenger
2x Doctor Decibel, Anton Decibel

4x Natasha Romanoff <> Black Widow, Super Spy
2x Wasp, Janet Van Dyne-Pym
2x Captain America, The Patior * Secret Avenger

4x Quicksilver, Mutant Avenger
2x Patriot, Elijah Bradley * Young Avenger
2x Lady Lark, Skylark
1x Black Panther, T’challa

2x Amphibian, Kingsley Rice

1x Wolverine, Secret Avenger

4x Playroom
4x Utopia Isle

4x Project Utopia
4x Legendary Battles
4x Reckless Youth
4x Switching Sides
4x Liberating Number 42

Do you remember when I extolled with great verbosity the virtues of Playroom, one of the key cards of the Avengers team attack strategy? It was a few weeks back, and I told you it totally rocked. It wasn't a subtle card, but that 4 damage could add up right quick with Quicksilver.

Well, with further thought, Project Utopia means that it can REALLY add up something fierce. A single Project Utopia, naming Quicksilver, means that every team attack stun he gets nets you over 8 points of endurance stun loss. Assuming they have a 2, a 3, and a 4 on turn four, and you have a Playroom and a Project Utopia, that's 34 damage. Imagine if you were playing against an off-curve deck? And, of course, you can have multiple Project Utopia's out at the same time....

There is, though, a drawback to Project Utopia. One of the best things about Quicksilver is that, after the board is clear, he can attack directly. Yes, you're gaining a significant amount of damage, but is it worth losing that pumpable direct attack? I think it definitely is...but just in case, I threw in Switching Sides. After Quicksilver demolishes your opponent's board, he can make nice with their highest drop and invite them over for tea. If you played a Legendary Battles that turn, that leaves you with 0 stunned characters, a massive endurance swing, and your opponent's highest drop.

Just to play it safe, however, I added a card called Utopia Isle, which reads as such...

Utopia Isle
To flip, exhaust two Squadron Supreme characters you control.
Whenever an attacker causes breakthrough while attacking a character, that attacker's controller loses 3 endurance.

You won't be causing my breakthrough on your attacks, but your opponents very well could be, and a fast-enough deck could outrush you. With this, though, even when they're hitting you as hard as they can, you're hitting back.

As always, I'm not entirely satisfied with the character selection - Quicksilver and Natasha are perfect, and it's my personal belief that Wolverine is the perfect finisher for the deck. He and Quicksilver can team into their last remaining character with a Legendary Battles, causing 13 damage and then letting Wolverine ready for a direct swing. Jarvis is nice, thanks to the lack of search (and no, I can't afford Avengers Reassembled), and Amphibian offers you a nice option just in case you don't want to underdrop on 4, as he can bring you back a plot twist you really need.

I would also seriously think about making room for AIDA, to prevent an opponent from exhaust Quicksilver before he can attack. You need Quicksilver to be free to attack, and AIDA helps guarantee that.

Still, the deck looks to be pretty fun, a slightly riskier but notably faster version of my X-Men/Avengers team attack deck. Hope you all enjoyed, and I'll see you all again soon!