Maidstone Deconstruction: Secret Avengers

I couldn’t think of a cunning literary/pop culture reference for the title of this one. Maybe it’ll come to me later.

This is going to be a slightly less detailed article than “Black Holes and Revelations,” because I plan to rebuild the Secret Avengers deck for my Modern gauntlet, and that gets to be the one with more detail. And also… tired today, but if I don’t post something, I’ll wind up putting it off for ages while I tumble into the Thesis hole.

First things first, here’s the decklist for reference:

4x Iron Fist, Secret Avenger

4x Dagger, Secret Avenger

3x Hawkeye <> Ronin, Secret Avenger

1x Dr Strange, Secret Avenger

4x Echo <> Ronin, Secret Avenger

4x Captain America, The Patriot * Secret Avenger

2x Jessica Drew, Secret Avenger

2x Falcon, Secret Avenger

2x Storm, Secret Avenger

4x Human Torch, Secret Avenger

1x Wolverine, Secret Avenger

2x Black Panther, Secret Avenger

2x Spider-Man, Secret Avenger

1x Luke Cage, Secret Avenger

(36 Characters)

3x Avengers Reassembled

4x Losing The Argument

3x Savage Beatdown

2x Big Leagues

4x Skree!

4x Crackshot

4x The Big Three

(24 Plot Twists)

As I noted in the tournament report, a few things weren’t my first choice.

In the 3 drop slot, I’d rather have had Punisher, Secret Avenger. There’s been some debate on the Realms as to the virtues of Punisher. The more active recent thread has been discussing BYOT, where I think that Black Panther is the clear first choice – the debate mostly centres on whether Punisher should be the second choice three drop. I’ll ignore the BYOT bit here, and just talk about whether Punisher should be the first choice 3-drop in Secret Avengers, as many people were commenting that Jessica Drew, Justice, or even Falcon were a better call in Punisher’s place.

Over the course of the tournament, I found myself nearly always wanting to underdrop on 3, with a 1 drop and preferably Cap, and the God of Topdecking willing, Echo on top somewhere within the first 3 turns. I still think that’s the best play you can hope for, because it creates a truly formidable amount of attack, much of which is hidden. Having Punisher as an option probably wouldn’t change that opinion. The underdrop, even if Cap’s rally isn’t succesful, is a very strong play which gives you big advantages in the damage race.

However, given the choice of any other play, I definately want Punisher over the other options. First, he’s concealed. That’s pretty big. You won’t always get your preferred initiative, but you still really want to be attacking as often as possible and killing on 5/6. More concealed guys = more off initiative swings. Second, his ability. Personally, I don’t see it so much as a board control tool as a way to push through that little bit more damage on a kill turn. The board control doesn’t suck – there’s plenty of 3 and 4 drops you want to see off the field ASAP. Radioactive Man being one, damn his pump stopping shenanigans. But it’s the damage that makes me like Punisher. 3-5 damage isn’t small, especially if you’re racing another aggressive deck like Marvel Knights.

His most salient disadvantage is his small defence, which will cause him to get stunned by 2 drops, which gives people concerns about attacking with him. I say fear is the enemy of aggro players. Damage dealing is king. Further, look at your 2 drops. If Hawkeye rallies successfully, then the enemy loses any 1 drops they might have, giving you a one character advantage going into three which should allow your 1 to hit his 2, and your two to pump into the 3, leaving an open board for Punisher to swing. Echo gives you an extra body to acheive the same thing if you rally into her. Cap pumps people making safe attacks a little easier. It shouldn’t be too hard to make good attacks which result in you only losing your 1 drop, while doing worse to the other guy.

You may have noticed a slight theme running through that discussion. If you ask me, Secret Avengers is all about getting the damage in as fast as possible. Running board control elements like Switching Sides or Finishing Move dilutes you from that purpose, and makes you a mite slower. And you can’t afford to be slower when the Big Deck to Beat in both Silver and Modern is MKKO. During the tournament, I was running down literally neck and neck for much of each game against MKKO. The critical factor was the fact that I had more pumps, and I reckon it’s the best way to improve the MKKO matchup in your favour. And damage is why Punisher is awesome.(And why you almost never want to play Storm on 4. Torch is vastly superior unless you really need to fix your draw.)

In terms of the rest of the character selection, I’m disquieted about the 5 drop slot. Spider-Man is clearly amazing (and every other superlative commonly applied to our web slinging friend) and your first choice.

But do we go with Black Panther or Wolverine as the second choice?

Panther is solid. Very solid. He draws cards, and he’s usually 10/10 unless you feel the need to pump someone else (Which is generally only a good play if your opponent has no 5, and you want to generate safe attacks for your 4, but I don’t see that coming up all that often). On paper, he’s an excellent call. But Spidey’s ability is so incredibly useful on turn 5, where he can turn off an opponent’s critical power. Is solid what you really want in a backup drop? But in terms of the all important damage imperative, against a deck which doesn’t have a 4 or 5 drop with some vital power, he’d be first choice. But how many decks have a 4 or 5 drop without a vital power?

Wolverine seems like a beast as well. Potentially double attacking, can hit the hidden area (particularly juicy if they’ve got some vunerable little low drop crying out to be beaten up on)… But only 8 defence, which reduces the odds of getting the double attack… which doesn’t happen all that often anyway. But again, a very situationally powerful 5 drop.

Neither wants to get cut, both have a lot going for them on paper, but I feel I should be increasing the numbers on Spidey so someone has to go… or do they? I’m really torn on this. Having a few different 5’s does come in handy if the game occasionally goes to six and I don’t hit my one copy of Luke Cage (who is, by the way, awesome. Oversized and draws two cards? I’ll take it)… Perhaps +1 Spidey, -1 Panther, keep one of Panther and Wolverine each? Could work. I’ll no doubt be testing different permutations as I prepare for Manchester, so I’ll keep folks updated on what I decide.

As for plot twists, I’ve already discussed “The Damage Imperative.” The only changes I’d make to the plot twist selection would be switching out Crackshots for Flying Kicks, because Flight is so much better than range in an aggressive deck. For the non pumps – Losing the Argument and Reassembled are great – who doesn’t love stacking their deck?

And that’s all from me this evening. Articles currently swirling around in my head – making Secret Avengers Modern, and a series of rantings about the state of comics (particularly Marvel and DC,) involving comfort zones and overworking writers and why Grant Morrison is really getting on my nerves at the moment.


~ by Anthony on August 16, 2008.

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