Ideaspace: Stun Guns

What has really struck me about Marvel Universe is the amount of ways to stun or KO characters outside of normal combat.


Hulk, Green Scar

Hulk, Gladiator

The Strongest One There Is

Thunderbolts/ Shield

Bullseye, Closer to God.


James Barnes <> Winter Soldier, Out in the Cold


The Infinity Gauntlet

Crime Lords

James Barnes <> Winter Soldier, Communist Puppet, Raid.

Mandarin, Tem Borjigin

Hydra Armageddon Carrier

Negative Zone

Annihilus, Anti Matter Master

Blastaar, the Living Bomb Burst

Swarm of Annihilus (ZARK!)

52 previews so far, 12 out of combat stun/ KO effects.  And that’s not counting Death Warrant and Negative Zone, Non Unique, Gateway, that strongly support such a theme by KOing stunned characters.

Historically, out of combat stuns were rare and special things, worth paying high costs to acheive. The second part of that statement remains true in MUN – These stuns require high costs in cards discarded (Mandarin, Armageddon Carrier, setting up Neg Zones) or board presence (Bouncing Bucky or Bullseye) or are usable only in narrow situations (Playing Loner, Usable only during your attack step, controlling all of the Illuminati, setting up Neg Zones)… But the power of out of combat stuns is immense. We’ve known that since the early days of the game when Roy Harper dominated tournaments. Exhausting your board and blowing a resource seems like a pretty hefty cost, but everyone still hates Roy and his stunning shenanigans.

The proliferation of these powerful effects is one of my favourite things about MUN. There’s big rewards for deckbuilders skilled enough to minimize the high costs of these out of combat stuns. (And all the other awesome powerful effects the set has offered us)

The Negative Zone seem to be the masters of the out of combat stun, but it’s easy to overlook the costs and challenges involved. To take advantage of Swarm of Annihilus (ZARK!) you need a row full of Negative Zones, and that’s going to cost cards, to search for the locations and to flip the multiple Zones. (I really hope there’s a team up  Neg Zone). On top of that, the cheap stuns from Annihilus and Blastaar come only on your initiative and at the cost of attacking.

Already there’s been plenty of talk about an X-Men/ Neg Zone team up to abuse Rogue, Mimic, and To Me, My X-Men!. Certaintly, that deck will be a monster on it’s initiative, stunning away merrily. But Swarm of Annihilus alone isn’t enough off initiative firepower to keep your board intact for maximum abuse. Recovery effects seem like a good thing to run with, but you’re got to consider your slow setup and the sheer speed that Injustice Gang, Revenge Squad, and perhaps Shield can kill you. Some kind of slowdown is required, and my instinct is that the X-Men/Neg Zone deck is going to be a slow one – amazing lategame, but their early and midgame is a little shakier.

Another option for a team up is Crime Lords – Hydra Armageddon Carrier allows you to control weenies, though again the cost of cards discarded rears its head. And I’m willing to bet that there’s plenty of other off initiative on the Crime Lords roster that will make your opponent pay just as much when he’s attacking as you will when you get your stuns set up.

League of Assasins offer Merlyn and The Demons Head as their main draws to teaming up with Negative Zone, the biggest barrier being Merlyn’s loyalty, which forces you to play quite a few LoA low drops to ensure you get one, and their Modern Age options are uninspiring in the context of this deck.

Moving into Silver, there’s Heralds of Galactus. Heralds bring lots of potential benefits to the table, with card draw, card search, Terrax (who combos nicely with Thanos) and a whole host of game extending effects that can let you get set up nicely. This is actually my favourite option at this point – Terrax also has the advantage of getting past “can’t be targetted” characters, since he targets the player and not the character, and MUN seems to have a good few of those effects floating around.

Speaking of which, I’m of the growing opinion that MUN is going to be introducing a massive amount of tension between powerful KO/Stun effects and defensive effects that prevent targetting, or redirect/ negate stuns. MUN is really ressurecting the question I raised in my first article about reaction vs. action. The powerful effects that will be hitting you make a strong argument for playing defensive effects.

If you do choose to play Pathetic Attempt in the face of all these out of combat stuns, it’ll certainly be pulling double duty. The aim of all the proposed Neg Zone teamups above is to maximise the number of stuns going the enemies way.  Comes back to my favourite word in deckbuilding, focus. Pathetic Attempt has been consistently cited as a reason that many of the above listed cards are less than stellar. But there are so many of these effects, that PA isn’t going to stop you if you’re building to take advantage. I still think that it’s in aggressive decks interests to get things done as fast as possible by maximising on damage before these decks can set up their devastating effects.

In more curve based decks, I would lean in favour of cards that prevent targeting for a whole turn – A Righteous Anger keeps your Hulk safe for a turn, while a PA only stops one of many Neg Zone ZARKings. That’s the caliber of defensive card you’ll be looking for. Iron Man with Extremis Armour is also looking good, making him a tough nut to crack while making sure your board stays intact against the onslaught.  You need to tax their resources without expending equal amounts of your own, so continuous/ turn long defences are what you should be looking out for in the MUN cardlist when we see it. Omnipotence will be positively huge for slower combat decks, and World’s Finest’s negation suite will be of high value as well.


~ by Anthony on May 26, 2008.

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