My only friend, the end.

•November 26, 2008 • 1 Comment

I’m having real trouble updating Laughing at the King at the moment, as I’m sure is apparent. This is largely due to the fact that I’m having trouble finding the time and money to travel to play Vs, so ideas are thin on the ground.

 

So I’m officially going on hiatus from blogging here, possibly permanently. 

 

Hopefully, things will pick up on the time/money front and playing with some MEV will rekindle the ideas, and I’ll return to semi-regular blogging here. 

 

In the meantime, I’ll still be doing a weekly Night Vision article for Vs Blog.

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Maidstone Mega Weekend Golden Age Legends Winners Report

•November 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

With this report, Laughing at the King returns to its scheduled programming. I hope.  There’ll be a couple of days of reports on the weekend, probably some deck deconstruction, and hopefully by then there’ll be a full spoiler of MEV so I can talk about Shift, Power Creep, and the inevitable Deadpool deck I’ll build. 

 

Maidstone Mega Weekend – Golden Age Build a Legend Winners Report

The aftermath of a Masters left me broke and jobless for a while, so I wasn’t able to make Game ’08. Because of that, there was no way I was going to miss out on the Maidstone Weekend. Graham was generous enough to put me up for the weekend and his family were good enough to tolerate and feed me as well. A big thank you to the Beadles.

 

I had planned on bringing a Spider-Clones deck to the tournament, but the mysterious disappearance of 3 copies of Spider-Man, The Sensational Spider-Man at the last minute meant I had to scrabble something together very quickly indeed. When contemplating my last minute direction change, I decided that after all the discussion that there’s been recently about the death of curve that I wanted a good solid curve combat deck. My first thought was Darkseid, but I didn’t have all the bits. Then my eyes fell on Punisher, and I thought to myself that a Punisher deck would be a good choice. However, lacking 4 Wild Rides, I didn’t want to do a pure MK build, because I hate playing with less than 8 searchers in a curve deck. Consistency problems with a curve deck… Nowhere better to turn than Checkmate. Checkmate also allowed me greater consistency with hitting New Baxter Building and the Fate set, so my decision was made. However, lacking much time (I had been out with friends the night before, missed the last bus, and had arrived home at 9am, with no sleep and needed to leave to catch the flight at 2pm) I simply took any cards that might make it into the deck, tossed them into a deck tin, and went to bed to grab a couple of hours sleep. The actual deckbuilding occured on the morning of the tournament, and this is what I ended up with:

 

2 Connie Webb, Knight
3 Black Thorn,
4 Punisher, Suicide Run
4 Ahmed Samsarra, White King
1 Sarge Steel, Knight
4 Punisher, Guns Blazing
1 Captain America, Loyal Patriot
1 Annihilation Protocol<>OMAC Robot
3 Huntress, Reluctant Queen
1 Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man
1 Punisher, Angel of Death
1 Sasha Bordeaux, Autonomous Prototype
1 Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch

4 Brother I
1 Quentin Carnival
1 Avalon Space Station
1 Slaughter Swamp
1 Brother Eye
1 Satellite HQ
1 Leslie Thompsons Clinic
1 New Baxter Building
2 Dr.Fates Tower
3 Checkmate Safe House

3 Enemy of my Enemy
1 Wild Ride
4 Cover Fire

1 Knight Armor
3 M60’s
2 Helm of Nabu
2 Cloak of Nabu
1 Amulet of Nabu

 

What you might notice is the lack of any particularly good King Protection. No Threat Neutralized was a conscious decision, but I did intend on packing a Fifth Dimension, but completely forgot. Luckily, I am made entirely of jam, and I managed not to get King Killed in any match, though I came close in Game 1…

 

(As always, apologies for any flawed recollections. My notes are poor and my recall not a whole lot better. )

 

Game 1: Ben, Warbound (Hulk Legend)

(Decklists for all the decks in the tournament are up at The British Initiative)

 

The first few turns were setup for both of us, without any significant interactions. I chose to place Ahmed visible with Knight Armour in order to deter any attacks on turn 3 from the 3 Drop Hulk, and then I dropped Punisher with an M60. Then my heart dropped into my stomach as Brood hit the table. It was at this point I remembered that I did not in fact have any way of removing Ahmed from play. This made the next few turns rather nailbiting for me. Hulk, Gladiator came in on 5, but I was able to protect Ahmed with Quentin Carnival, Koing the Knight Armour. He attack Hulk, Gladiator into Cap, and because I was so preoccupied with not getting King Killed, I thought “I won’t use the Shield Counter so I can use it to protect Ahmed later”… then remembered the KO effect. Facepalm. Luckily, it was not to prove too much of a problem. Punisher took out his Gladiator, leaving the Green King underwhelmingly statted on turn 6. I completed the Fate Set on Punisher in addition to his M60, and was able to put ben under with superior board and a stonking huge Punisher.

1-0

Game 2: Tommy (Hellboy plus some highly unusual friends)

Tommy had me very confused facing this deck. It was certainly an unusual concoction, and I had little idea what to expect. I saw Goblin and Cap hit the board early, and figured that it was some sort of counter deck, but had no idea who the legend was. I hit Punisher, Suicide Run and Ahmed, and there was some trading, with me taking more damage in the early turns. Then Punisher hit and geared up, and Tommy had no recruit. (As you might notice as the report continues, any time I play Tommy I seem to steal his luck and he misses drops). This was on course a major turning point. That combined with a Loyal Patriot who brickwalled the second attack into him with a Cover Fire was enough to take the game.

 

2-0

 

Game 3: Amy (Spider-Clones)

My notes on this game are particularly sparse for the mid-game. The life totals I have don’t have the turn noted down beside them until turn 7. I got M60s and a couple of pieces of Fate gear on Punisher, used Quentin Carnival to equip Cap with M60’s. I also made a mistake here in accidentally searching out the second Helm instead of the missing Cloak, and equipping it… wasn’t until the combat phase that I realised I hadn’t actually equipped the Cloak… (Note to self: Take own advice about autopilot) I’m just glad the game state was easily restored by Koing the duplicate Helm. There was some combat, no doubt some Punisher Koing, and Huntress and Quentin Carnival did wonders to keep Punisher from being Gift Wrapped. I stalled out with my own Spider Man to bring the game to 7. Nice Try stopped Punisher, Angel of Death from doing his thing (The Fates had been switched to Spidey), but I weathered the turn and was able to get the win on the swingback thanks to some terribly convuluted searching and digging which resulted in me getting the vital Huntress back with an Avalon. (I remember little about the exact sequence of plays here, all I remember was the frantic thinking and the sigh of relief when I figured out I’d dodged the bullet… Should really have written it down). All in all, it was a very enjoyable game with many moves and counter moves and negations and exhaustions.

 

3-0

 

Game 4: Graham (Reign of Arkham, Doom Legend)

 

I’ll admit to a near total failure of memory on this one. My slightly cryptic notes lead me to assemble the following observations about the early turns: I dropped Black Rose on turn 2, and had some concerns on Turn 3 about topdecking something (I have some probability calculations jotted down). I managed to Topdeck a Wild Ride on 4 to get Punisher, so I’m going to assume that I burned a search card on 3 to hit Ahmed and risked missing Punisher. I hadn’t rowed a team up at this point, so I wouldn’t have been able to Brother I for him.  Endurance totals were pretty even for the most part. Unfortunately, Two Face locked down my 4, 6, and 8 on turn 8, and he put me on 5 to his 7, and I was unable to deal enough damage without taking as much myself.

 

3-1 

 

Game 5: James (Illuminati, Mr Fantastic Legend)

 

This game started very slowly, with him setting up his board of hidden illuminati and me setting up with Ahmed. On 4 I didn’t have a way into the hidden area, so I just started swinging to the face. I knew James was running the Infinity Gauntlet, and he was perilously close to assembling all the Old Boys Club and he had them all FF affiliated. I really wanted to get in there to start Koing Illuminati with Punisher. Realm of the Mind was punishing my hand, and Elektra Situation on 5 defanged Punisher somewhat. But I got my Satellite HQ and Annihilation Protocal and Punisher went a hunting, putting in a lot of damage and costing James a Professor X. Too little, too late, I thought. If he hits an Iron Man on 6, he’ll have his lock and that will be that. (Infinity Gauntlet + Cosmic Radiation = Scary). Luckily for me, Iron Man was not to be seen, and without any visible characters to stop the onslaught to the face the game was mine. James, drawing cards later in the turn, discovered what no-one wants to see in these situations – that Iron Man was the very next card in the deck.

 

Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good, and I had been lucky a couple of times during this tournament.

 

4-1, enough for first place.

 

Tomorrow: Silver Age Report

The Day after that: Draft Reports (MVL and MUN)

 

MEV Previews: Providence and Psimitar

•October 23, 2008 • 3 Comments

Minimal preamble… here’s the first card: 

 

This card pulls Cable out of play, who can then be put back into play for free in your next build phase. 

 

Simple, yet with many applications. 

 

You can use it to gain multiple uses out of enters play effects printed on Cable character cards. At the moment, we have Cable, Nathan Summers. Between Providence and Bodyslide, you could have him enter play at least three times in a turn, if you didn’t draw more than one Bodyslide (Not drawing plot twists in a Cable deck… unlikely. Man, Techno Organic Virus is good). 

 

You can use it as a quasi-readying effect for Cable, Aksani’son, or with any other card that lets you exhaust Cable pre-combat for a beneficial effect. In line with using it with Cable, Nathan Summers, SHIELD agents + In the crossfire, shift Cable out then in, readying him and burning again. 

 

It’s a recovery effect – You remove stunned Cable from the game, and bring him back in hale and healthy the next build phase. 

 

And, because I just thought of it while typing –  a random janktastic combo: You have Mystique, Shapely Shifter in play, named Cable, since you want a turn 4 Cable for some reason. On six, you want to play your 6 drop Cable without losing your 4 drop, so you Providence Mystique out, returning her to play with a different name. You saw it here first, folks.  (Actually, making her be Deadpool might not be the worst idea…)

I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty happy with a location which could recover my Legend every turn. The fact that Providence has so many other options makes it a very interesting card indeed. Cards with multiple applications are great skill testers, in both gameplay and deckbuilding. Many of the “secondary” uses of Providence (I would classify the recovery as the main and best effect it has) will require a bit more building around them to maximise their potential, but potential it remains. 

The second card is a nice little Legend-stamped equipment card for our Messiah wannabe of the week. 

 

But wait, you say… If Cable’s shifting and bodysliding in and out of play all the time, equipment’s not going to be that much good to him, right? 

 

Just when you thought Cable decks couldn’t draw any more cards, right?

 

It might not have the sheer impact of Techno Organic Virus, or see as many cards in a turn as today’s other preview (brought to you by Checkmate Arcade), but it does translate into one extra card a turn while Cable’s stunning people and taking names. Which, given X-Force’s plethora of combat tricks, shouldn’t be too hard at all. And in Silver, it’s two cards per turn if you’ve got a New Baxter Building in play. 

 

It’s not big or flashy, but it’s reliable extra cards from turn to turn, and you can’t complain about that. Extra cards are just plain good. And it doesn’t come with the same risks as TO Virus – Psimatar just straight up draws some cards.

 

And whatever to do with all those extra cards… pump and punch, I would hope. It’s certainly what X-Force is geared towards. Of course, with all that draw and In The Crossfire, there’s certain combo potential too, not to mention the Alpha Flight team up that’s begging to happen.

Ideaspace: Shifting Sands

•October 16, 2008 • 1 Comment

I’m going to assume at this point that people know how shift works, and save you all the hassle of reading the rules text yet again.

Instead, I’m going to launch right into why I think it’s awesome.

The first reason is that it’s a skill intensive mechanic, both in terms of play and deck building. In order to get the most out of it, you’ve got to build your deck very carefully indeed. Other bloggers and posters have already detailed numerous scenarios whereby you can play out a slew of mid game drops to take control of the board, and as such, I don’t feel the need to crunch the numbers for you all. But that number crunching will be vital when we all sit down to build a Shift deck. Right now, it’s all pre-emptive, because we don’t know how many characters at each drop will have Shift, but when we have the full list, there’s going to need to be a lot of work put into figuring out the optimal way to do things.

There’s two paths to take with Shift. One is going the combo route, looking to set up a turn, probably around 4 or 5, where you abuse Blink and Proteus to build a massive board of 4 and 5 drops to take control of that turn’s combat phase. The numbers will follow a specific script, where things need to run pretty optimally to enable that powerful, game changing turn.

An alternate route is to use Shift to gain small advantages over a number of turns. This will be a less scripted, more flexible, and probably more consistent, but less explosive, build. In this version, you’ll be using Shift as a quasi-substitute effect to upgrade drops, to recover from lost board or missed drops, and to keep gradual pressure on the opponent. You won’t be banking your resource points into Shift characters that will sit out until the kill turn, instead using them more gradually. This kind of build will probably take advantage of carefully timed come into play effects and such – the other main facet of Shift is control over when certain characters hit the board. A lot of low drops have great powers that are balanced by the fact that they won’t stick around too long. With shift, you can hold them in reserve until their powers will have the most impact.

Shift decks will be powerhouses of turns 4-6, and I’m looking forward to that.

The next reason is that Shift manages to counter control in an innovative way. It presents multiple targets for the control players effects, and allows you to have a lot of 4 and 5 drops on the board – characters of this cost are a lot harder for stall decks to control – instead of investing your resources on low cost characters that are easy to bounce, stun, or exhaust out of combat, as 1-3 drops so often are, you invest on a more solid, resistant midgame.

This is what happens when you invade Wakanda

•October 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Just read the last issue of the Black Panther Secret Invasion Tie In.

 

And it was spectacular. Genuinely absolutely awesome. Superlatives do not do it justice. 

 

Taking the point of view of the invaders was genius, and lent it great weight and power. 

 

And Black Panther’s awesomeness continues to surprise me in all sorts of good ways. 

 

I won’t spoil anything, but if you haven’t read it, do so now. Right now. It’s fantastic. I could say more, but frankly, simplicity is best when describing something this entertaining.

 

Never, ever, screw with Wakanda. Because Panther will straight up kick your ass.

Ideaspace: An overview of the X-Factor Previews

•October 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Well, X-Factor seem pretty nuts good. 

 

Cyclops is looking like an awesome Legend to build a deck around. I’m very happy to see Cyke get his due – I’ve always been a fan of Cyclops, despite all the negative press he gets for being “boring”. In Morrison’s New X-Men run, and Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, Cyclops has really become a great leading character. I particularly loved the developing animosity towards Professor X and his increasing badassery. This guy’s been training since day one, so it stands to reason that he would be very, very effective in using his powers. Highlights included him disarming many, many of Magneto’s followers in Genosha’s sewers in a single panel, and getting that Sentinel of the Mansion’s lawn. 

 

And Cyke’s newfound awesomeness has definately translated into cardboard awesomeness. We’ve seen his 4, 6 and 8 drop cards, and each of them has a powerful ability. Out of combat stuns on 4 if you can maintain board in the early turns, and a strong finisher for a stall deck that will either win on 8 or garuantee that you see turn 9. The 6 drop has an interesting effect, which suggests an X-Factor deck that is more than simply locking the opponent out of combat – the ability suggests the use of X-Factor’s powerful activated abilities to disrupt the opponent’s defences on initiative, while still getting to attack with your characters, or alternately get multiple swings out of a character.  Combing the Astonishing X-Man with Fearless Leader will also be very powerful. The potential combos with Cyclops, Astoning X-Men are many and potentially massively powerful, especially with To Me, My X-Men as additional support. I see a good control-aggro X-Factor build which makes the opponent’s attack step a nightmare while simultaeneously being able to mount a formidable offence in the mid-late turns. 

 

Then we have the Multiple Man legend cards, which I am totally smitten with.  Madrox offers a slightly different style of play from Cyclops, being less stall focused, while still offering off initiative control via Multiplicty and Sleeper Cells, great stunback potential via the HYDRA one drop’s activated ability, and a really solid defensive Turn 5 thanks to Jamie Prime potentially being Nimrod on steroids. One Man Army also lets you maintain huge numbers of dupes to fuel the madness. Strong Guy is the obvious finisher here – he could get really massive with a board full of dupes. 

 

The rest of X-Factor’s previews show some more great stall potential, with Polaris, Iceman, and Jean Grey. Jean will make it very hard for the opponent to impact your board at all, especially with First Class recovering and readying her. (Anyone else thinking Netherworld gift would be janktastic with her?)

 

Having seen quite a bit of energize at this point, I think it’s a pretty interesting keyword. Clearly, it seeks to increase the value of activated powers on (mostly) larger characters, and makes brickwalling a very powerful strategy for X-Factor, allowing for either multiple activations or attacks back off initiative. The way I’d like to see X-Factor play is a sort of ebb and flow of attack and defence (I love how Jamie Prime and Reabsorbtion interact to produce this “ebb and flow” feel). I do expect that there will be a strong X-Stall deck as well, with Rogue and Mimic certainly making appearances. Expect your combat step to be very difficult in the coming Modern Age. 

 

The off initiative control power of X-Factor is significant, and people have expressed worry that X-Factor might make the combat step entirely irrelevant in the coming meta – but let’s not forget that we’ve yet to see what else the set has to offer, and many folks expressed worry that Warbound were broken and that X-Men/Negative Zone would dominate during the MUN previews. 

 

In completely tangential news, I just started reading the Warren Ellis Thunderbolts run, and it’s awesome.

Ideaspace: Hail Hydra and stuff.

•October 7, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’m in love.  Swarm stall? 

 

It’s the best idea ever. Reminds me of my jank-tastic Illusiionary Warriors deck way back from DJL. 

 

This is just what I need to see to get excited about MEV. The deck that’s emerging for X-Factor makes me giddy. Swarm out Multiple Men , HYDRA. Lock down the opponent with multiplicity. Drop Cyke around turn 4 (with a swarm of adjacent Multiple Man), using either Concussive Force or his activated ability to keep the opponet down off initiative. Turn 5, reabsorb the dupes, and brickwall with the amazing recurring Jamie Prime. Turn 6, you’ve got this beast: 

Seriously, the opponent is never getting an effective attack again. The sheer, focused exhuast power X-Factor has just from these few previews is very impressive. 

 

Alternatively, you can stall until around 5, and use Jamie Prime to swarm out little guys for a big swarmy finish, if you can get a mass attack pump going. 

 

The fact that the 1-drop Army Jamie is also a Crime Lords and HYDRA character is even cooler. It allows you to use Cut Off One Head to accelerate the swarm, or lets you go in a different stall direction by running HYDRA Armageddon Carrier (don’t worry about the discards, Cut Off One Head and Jamie Prime will get your dupes back) and James Barnes <> Winter Soldier for off initiative stuns – replaying a bouncing character is a lot less taxing when you’re swarming instead of curving. 

 

Further Energize musings: So far, we’ve only seen it on characters costing 5+, and I think this may be a trend that willk continue – the ability to ready on high drops with activated powers makes activated powers a lot more useful on such characters, and on Polaris, it means she can restrict the opponent to only one attack even when outnumbered 3 – 1.  It seems to facilitate one strong visible character holding off a larger number of opponents, which is very cool.