Ideaspace: All is Illuminated

The Illuminati are so awesome it makes my brain hurt working through all the ideas. (Or the brain hurt comes from the fact that I should be studying for exams right now and the guilt is trying to make itself known).

A quick rundown of the Illuminati previews we’ve seen gives us:

Iron Man, Protector of the Reality Gem – Lets you exhaust some Illuminati to exhaust an opposing character.

Secret Government – A search card that puts an Illuminati on top of your deck, or in your hand if you exhaust someone. Threshhold 2 is nice as well.

The 100 ideas – A Mr Fantastic legend card which lets you look at the bottom 4 cards of your deck and pick one.

THE INFINITY GAUNTLET – Exhaust 6 Illuminati to either KO a character, KO a resource, or force an opponent to discard his hand. And it’s ongoing, so you can keep doing it. Game breaking effects, but hard to enable… sounds like fun to me.

The Elektra Situation – Exhaust 2 Illuminati to strip the powers and name of a named character. Ongoing.

Dr. Strange, Secret Avenger – Rallies a named type of card, and keeps going until you miss or have named each type. Hidden 2 drop.

Clandestine Operations – Exhaust 2 Illuminati to turn on the ongoing effect (in the recovery phase), and characters are exhausted when the enter play (Both sides).

What’s most noteworthy about these cards is the incredible control power on the ongoing plot twists. Castrate legend decks, Exhaust out aggressive decks, and then there’s the infinity gauntlet… which is just awesome. All of these require you to exhaust Illuminati characters to activate their ongoing shenanigans…

So the obvious goal of an Illuminati deck is to assemble the 6 members – Black Bolt, Professor X, Dr. Strange, Iron Man and Namor, as fast as possible. There’s some challenges present here –

You need lots of search/ card draw to hit them as fast as possible, and this is made more difficult by the fact that they don’t share affiliations. Secret Government is a welcome aid to this, but we’re going to be looking for something else to help out I reckon. The MUN versions of the Illuminati may well be linked by the Infinity Watch affiliation, but you want to play low cost versions of the characters to assemble them ASAP, and the low cost guys come from different affiliations. Looking at the available lowbies for the Illuminati, we have:

(Considering only Silver at this point, though I think they’ll be loads of fun in Golden)

1 Drops:

Black Bolt, Enemy Within (Skrull affiliated maybe? Probably also Inhumans)

2 Drops:

Black Bolt, Illuminati (Inhumans)

Dr. Strange, Secret Avenger (Avengers/ MK)

Mr. Fantastic, Stringbean (Fantastic Four)

Mr. Fantastic, Protector of the Power Gem (FF/ Infinity Watch?)

Professor X, Idealistic Dreamer (X-Men)

3 Drops:

Black Bolt, Protector of the Space Gem (Inhumans/ Infinity Watch?)

Iron Man, Illuminati (Avengers/ Doom)

Mr. Fantastic, Flexible Thinker (FF)

Mr. Fantastic, Ultimates (FF/ Shield?)

Professor X, Protector of the Mind Gem (X-Men/ Infinity Watch?)

Sub Mariner, Neptune’s Fist (Marvel Defenders)

Sub Mariner, Protector of the Time Gem (???/ Infinity Watch)

So our lowest cost options for the Illuminati are:

Black Bolt, Enemy Within

Dr. Strange, Secret Avengers

Mr. Fantastic, Stringbean/ Protector of the Power Gem

Professor X, Idealistic Dreamer

Sub Mariner, Protector of the Time Gem

Iron Man, Illuminati

They can be assembled by turn 5 at the quickest, if you hit an ideal 1, 2, 3 (2, 2), (3 or 5 cost Iron Man).

Busting a gut to get them all out by then would require running so much search and card draw it’d make your nose bleed an leave your deck doing little else besides enabling the gauntlet post haste. When you’re considering competitive Illuminati builds, you’re more likely to be building to utilize clandestine ops and The Elektra Situation to stall out to a big finisher, and Infinity Gauntlet might not even see play.

But where’s the fun in that? I’ll wander back to more efficient ways of getting the Illuminati up and running as a control force rather than a bag of jank later… Right now, I’m going to waltz of down jank row and have a look at how we might get the guys in play good and sharpish like.

So… we need to get 6 guys into play as fast as possible you say… 6 guys with a Secretive streak, you say? Huh, I think there might be something there.

What to the Secret Six have to offer? Well, for our purposes, there’s

Mockingbird, who can be used to cheat out a character (Though you need each individual Illuminati member, clones won’t work – take that, Skrulls!)

Help Wanted is a Team Up which helps us dig, though requires having a Secret Six character in play

Scandal is particularly awesome, as she can find our kick ass ongoings and the neccesary swathe of team ups.

My plan would be to try and drop Deadshot or Mad Hatter, flip Superhuman Registration Act, then Help Wanted to team up Registration and Secret Six… Yup, we’re looking crazy janky already. Ideally, I think you would be trying to cheat in the 3 drop Sub Mariner and Iron Man.

This approach would take at least until turn 5 to set up… which is no faster than the “god draw” described above and probably less card intensive, but the presence of Scandal lets you fish for team ups you’ll need anyway, and cheating guys in does rely less on hitting them at specific times. Still, it’s probably too crazy to work, right? Probably, but that doesn’t stop me tinkering with the idea right now, because, well, it’s fun to dream those crazy dreams about building an ingenious and convoluted deck that works somehow despite all evidence saying it shouldn’t.

(You could take a similar tack with Underworld/ Netherworld Gift, though Help Wanted is a better team up for our purposes, since it digs for stuff, and Scandal lets you search. )

Yeah, I know it’s mad. And janky. But that’s what this column is for, mostly.

That said, I’m interested to go back and look at perhaps more stable ways of constructing an Illuminati deck, preferably one with stall power that will let us bring the Gauntlet out to play in the late game.

First thoughts: Teaming everyone up will be pretty essential, and I reckon SHRA (and maybe it’s twin sister Anti Reg card?) plus some other team up will let us get all our guys on board. We can use some conventional team ups to team up X with Registration (or Anti-Registration) to let us do things with team stamped searchers.

My initial inclination is to use Inhumans as a support team and our primary team up target. Between Lockjaw and The Great Refuge, if you get your guys teamed up with Inhumans, searching out the lowbies so you have exhaustion fodder for your powerful Ongoings becomes a lot easier. Inhumans do also give access to Waking the Ancestors, which doesn’t hurt in the slowing the game department – though I sense Illuminati decks will be very tight for space given the need for searchers and team ups. I smell a very low character count. (A quick thanks to The Deranged Bear, who opened my eyes to this wacky concept.)

Infinity Watch also seem to be a linking affiliation between many members of the Illuminati, and if you’re in less of a rush to get them all out and more inclined towards curving a bit, (which may or may not be a good idea depending on what else we see), Gathering The Watch may make a good secondary searcher. Mind Gem and Ego gem seem good anyway for a deck that needs to see cards badly, so the cost is probably not too steep. Uncommon too, which is cool.

Okay, the stack of unread stats notes are glaring at me a little, I shall wrap up… The Illuminati look like a really powerful team. A mind bogglingly powerful team. Their effects are nuts. However, they present a really unique deckbuilding challenge in an Enemy-less enviroment. A good Illuminati deck will be a finely crafted machine, and I simply can’t wait to take a crack at it.

Man, I am loving MUN already. So many deckbuilding challenges. MUN epitomizes everything that’s awesome about Vs. Strong effects, clever builds to enable them, flavourful as hell… and we haven’t even seen it all yet.

I’m thinking Mandarin might be the next thing I look at, because it allows me to dig out an old word file and play with it… I’ll leave you with the deck name: Insanity Gauntlet.

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~ by Anthony on May 14, 2008.

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