A Week Remembering VS System – The Finale

Today’s article is more about the deck itself than the actual matches. As such, I don’t remember any specific about said matches. So I’ll mostly be discussing the design of my deck and how it beats in faces on a regular basis.

MKGKKO vs. A Litany of Decks (Impromptu Hobby League)

My greatest triumph in my gaming career was the initial design and eventual perfection of my Marvel Knights/Gotham Knights/Birds of Prey team-up deck I created a little while after the Marvel Legends release. The base idea of the deck has been around forever. MKKO was a deck that was created way back when the Marvel Knights set was released, based on using the litany of KO effects available to the Marvel Knights team to control their board while utilizing hidden characters to keep yours and attack for big numbers. The deck was revitalized by a much better roster of hidden characters in the Marvel Legends set. It always had one problem, though. The deck had no draw effects beyond Black Cat, Thrillseeker, who is definitely not a guaranteed draw as a one drop that requires an empty field to do her work. So what would be a good way to fix the deck? By adding card draw, of course! And what team has a startling amount of hidden area characters with big attack values? Why, the Birds of Prey, of course. And what team are nearly all of the Birds of Prey dual-affiliated with that has arguably the best team-up in the game that also doubles as a card drawing/cycling engine? The Gotham Knights! A quick combination of the Birds/GK characters from the DC World’s Finest set and the Marvel Knights from Marvel Legends and MKGKKO was born. By the time Marvel Universe was released, the deck received two more gems and became a force to be reckoned with. Here’s the deck.

Characters:

4x Lady Blackhawk, Zinda Blake

3x Black Cat, Thrillseeker

4x Daredevil, Fearless Survivor

2x Huntress, Vicious Vigilante

4x Barbara Gordon <> Oracle, Hacker Elite

1x Blade, Independent Contractor

4x Wolverine, Covert Predator

1x Vixen, Mari Jai McCabe

2x Cassandra Cain, Death’s Daughter

1x Punisher, Captain America

1x Captain America, Loyal Patriot

2x Dinah Laurel Lance <> Black Canary, Cry in the Dark

1x Hulk, Savage Hulk

Plot Twists:

4x The Hook-Up, Team-Up

3x Mobilize

3x Wild Ride

4x Flying Kick

4x Savage Beatdown

4x Quick Kill

3x Finishing Move

3x Blinding Rage

3x Pathetic Attempt

Let’s talk about the deck in detail. From a character perspective, you’ve got a full curve of both Birds of Prey and Marvel Knights characters. Much of how the deck plays depends on who you see on turn one. You’re going to be mulliganing for a turn one character unless you have low cost Marvel Knights and Birds of Prey and your team-up. The best of all worlds would be the following curve in order:

Black Cat

Daredevil

Barbara Gordon

Wolverine

Cassandra Cain

Black Canary/Hulk.

If you’re looking at a curve like that, your only real choices come into play on three, five and six. Barbara draws you cards, but Blade might become necessary either for the team-up if you lead with Blackhawk/Huntress or to begin slowing down an opposing hidden deck. Plus, you can just sub Barbara into the game a little later. Wolverine’s good for slowing hidden decks as well, and he’s always a better play than Vixen (who isn’t Gotham Knights). Punisher and Cap are designed for two reasons. The first is to have something in the visible area to soak damage, and the second is for both of their defensive tricks. Punisher’s a good choice on initiative if necessary, but if your hand is full of characters, you play Cassandra Cain. Cap gets played off initiative, and even then it’s only if he’s the only character or if you’re behind on the endurance race and facing down something big and scary. The choice for turn six is entirely due to feel. If you don’t feel confident you can get Savage Hulk to do his thing, Black Canary’s 14 attack should usually be enough to finish things. ONLY PLAY SAVAGE HULK IF YOU ARE POSITIVE HE WILL GET A CLEAR ATTACK. If you’ve managed to KO your opponent’s entire board and have a good board of characters for back-up leading to your initiative on turn six, you can probably get away with playing Savage Hulk. NEVER PLAY SAVAGE HULK OFF INITIATIVE. NEVER. It’s almost better to not play a character than to kill yourself by playing Savage Hulk, especially if you’re dealing with someone packing exhaust effects. Savage Hulk is a member of the deck more for finishing off an opponent in spectacular fashion than for tipping the tides in your favor during a close game. He will kill you and lose you a game if you’re not careful.

As far as the blues are concerned, they’re pretty self explanatory. Quick Kill is great because you can get the effect without having a Marvel Knights character on the board. I wouldn’t necessarily say Mobilize is a great search card for the deck, considering there are two characters that don’t have either of the core team affiliations (Lady Blackhawk is just Birds of Prey and Vixen is Birds/JLA, so if you lead with Blackhawk and want to Mobilize, you’re going to need two Hook-Ups to cross Birds with GK or MK), however, the Birds don’t have a search, and Bat Signal slows down the deck by exhausting characters to search instead of exhausting them to attack or KO. Some luck is involved, but usually if you can get the team-up established you should be in good shape. Worst case, you can always kamikaze Lady Blackhawk into someone and not recover her. Pumps are pumps, in this case being the Flying Kick/Savage Beatdown/Blinding Rage variety. Quick Kills should be exclusively used for the small drops if possible, as Finishing Moves need to be around for those fives and sixes. Much like Quick Kill, Wild Ride is great because it doesn’t require a Marvel Knights character on the field. It’s a great way to search out that Daredevil or Wolverine to establish a team-up. The Hook-Up should be used every turn if possible. Discarding characters to draw Savage Beatdowns are always great.

This deck just ruins people. It rushes fast with attack pumps to kill quickly. It KO’s your opponent’s characters to mitigate damage, establish tempo and control your opponent’s options. The KO effects start early and can do a lot to stop your opponent prior to the turn four Pathetic Attempts. Blade and Wolverine can stop hidden area decks in their tracks. It’s just mean.

THE ‘MATCH’

My buddy Los and I decided to do a two man hobby league one Sunday after we had played some casual games. MKGKKO had just reached another level and was quickly becoming established as a stone cold killer. I always bring tons of other decks with me and so does Los, so we thought it would be fun to set up a two man deck gauntlet. Each person chose four decks. Games would be played in succession; each time a player lost, he would switch his deck out for a new one. First player to four wins is the victor. I led off with MKGKKO. I didn’t need any of my other decks. I can’t remember exactly what Los played. I know he was testing out a few decks. I believe there was a Titans/Outsiders team attack deck based around Tim Drake, and I would assume (since this is Los, after all) that Insanity was in play as well. He might have had a Captain America deck built at that time too. Regardless, he got trounced in a real and significant way. Four straight wins for MKGKKO. This was basically the beginning of its real and significant reign of terror.

I’ve only lost two games with the deck. Ever. I can even make excuses about the second loss because it was after I sold my Mobilizes and the deck just isn’t as good packing Bat Signals. The other loss was a casual game against a heavily tuned monster of a Clash of Two Worlds Dr. Doom deck running all kinds of golden age shenanigans. We’re talking Reign of Terror, Press the Attack, Latveria, things like that. And I was playing a version of MKGKKO that was designed for modern age and only included cards from Marvel Legends, World’s Finest, and the Hellboy Starter Deck (thanks, Flying Kick!). And the funny thing is that my record against that deck is still somewhere in the range of 12-1. I was originally going to write my Friday article on that match-up, but that’s obviously not happening considering that it’s Friday right now. Safe to say, my success against that deck is entirely based on being able to KO his Dooms the turn they hit play. This turns off his ability to Reign of Terror and use Faces of Doom to search his curve. It works quite well, really. The game I lost basically was because I couldn’t find my KO effects, and Reign of Terror was wrecking my board to take away my tempo. It was still a close game, and I believe he won on seven, so even though I missed cards, I still almost beat him. That’s the raw power of this deck.

I will always love VS System. I was in the middle of a campaign to teach my friends the VS love, but that was derailed (in a good way) by our discovery of the Arkham Horror board game. I’ll get back to it at some point, and thoroughly look forward to the prospect of buying boxes on the cheap on the net and holding some draft nights. As a pure card gaming system, nothing will beat it. It allows for more than enough consistency to stave off frustration (I’m looking at you, Magic the Gathering), but is also one of the ultimate examples of a game that rewards the better player. If you are a better player than your opponent and your decks are of relative equality, you will win basically every time. The frustrates a lot of casual fans, and could be why the casual base never existed to eventually lead to the game’s death. Even still, for those who take the time, study the game, play a bunch and get a true understanding of the mechanics, it’s a gloriously rewarding chess match every time you shuffle up. There are people out there who are keeping the dream alive. For various reasons, I cannot join them in their quest to turn it into something that can last beyond the involvement of Upper Deck Entertainment. I’m content to live with my memories, which is exactly what this week has been about.

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This post has been written to the tune of Wired All Wrong’s Break Out the Battle Tapes.

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