Affinity Primer

Affinity

Decklist:

Lands:
x4 Tree of Tales
x4 Seat of the Synod
x4 Great Furnace
x4 Darksteel Citadel

Creatures:
x4 Frogmite
x4 Myr Enforcer
x4 Atog
x4 Carapace Forger
x2 GearSeeker Serpent

Instant/Sorcery:
x4 Thoughtcast
x4 Galvanic Blast
x2 Metallic Rebuke
x1 Fling
x1 Temur Battlerage

Artifacts:
x4 Springleaf Drum
x3 Flayer Husk
x4 Prophetic Prism
x3 Chromatic Star

Sideboard:
x1 Hydroblast
x1 Electrickery
x1 Dispel
x3 Krark-Clan Shaman
x2 Pyroblast
x2 Relic of Progenitus
x1 Ray of Revelation
x1 Ancient Grudge
x2 Feed the Clan
x1 Serene Heart

The Lands:

Each land in Affinity counts as an artifact which serves the purpose of fueling Metalcraft, beefing Atog, and playing the Myr Enforcer earlier. With the fact that the lands also produce 1 mana each, It is very easy to vomit everything in your hand and run all over your opponent. The Reason for having Darksteel Citadel in the deck as opposed to using other Artifact lands that branch in color is because it is very common in the pauper format to be on the other end of Artifact destruction on the opponent’s turn 1 or 2. Piloting the deck, you will find that out of 100 games, Darksteel Citadel will save you from getting blown out by a well timed artifact removal about 25% of the time.

The Creatures:

Affinity is a deck that denies other players the right to brew their own decks and be successful. The reason being is simple, the creatures are too big for decks outside the meta to handle. 4/4’s in multiples are almost impossible to deal with early game, and as the flow of the match moves toward the midrange area, Affinity begins to drop Gearseeker Serpent and Atog with Fling backup. If the opponent somehow manage to survive the volley of 4/4’s and 2/2’s, a couple of Galvanic Blasts and a Fling generally finishes the opponent off.

The Sideboard:

If you have been having conversation with the other players in the Pauper community you will have undoubtedly heard the phrase “Affinity Beats Itself”. This phrase refers to how temperamental Affinity is about its deck slots. Affinity’s Sideboard is something that can act as a self-destruct button if you have no idea what you are doing. There are pieces to the deck that act as a glue, holding the structural integrity of the deck and without this glue, the deck becomes inconsistent and far less dependable. Below are the cards that have nothing to do with the performance of the deck.

Under no circumstances should anything other than these four cards be taken out to bring cards from the Sideboard in. your choices are always: 2 Metallic Rebukes, 2 Gearseeker Serpents, 1 Prophetic Prism, and 1 Chromatic Star. Most of the time you will not need all six of these cards taken out so it is imperative to know which of these cards are favored over the other. The rule of thumb is that if the matchup ends very quickly, Gearseeker Serpent comes out because the card takes too many turns to be able to cast it and effectively block or attack. Metallic Rebukes come out in situations where Gearseeker Serpent gives the opponent a hard time and you have a better utility than “Counter a spell unless the opponent pays 3” Prophetic Prism and Chromatic Star are simply filler slots for your Sideboard but should only be taken out in singles otherwise the deck will lose consistency.

Notable Plays:

Aside from 4/4’s Beating the opponent to death, Affinity has an additional win condition. Sacrificing all of your artifacts when the opponent is tapped out or has no cards in their hand to Fling/Temur Battle Rage Atog will close the game about 40% of the time. It is important to note that you will need to tap the mana needed for Fling or Temur Battle Rage before start sacrificing all of your artifacts. Subsequently, when you Fling, MTGO will ask you to choose your target first, Then ask what Creature you wish to sacrifice. I have seen games where the opponent accidently flings but chooses the Atog as a target.

Many times when piloting Affinity you will run into a scenario where there are 4 Artifacts and you only have one mana open. For example, It is turn two with a Darksteel Citadel in play coupled with a Great Furnace. You already have a Chromatic Star in play from a turn before and you tap one mana to cast a Frogmite. You now have one mana open, a Chromatic star on the board and a Thoughtcast in your hand. Unfortunately, if you tap the Chromatic Star and filter blue, you will draw a card but your artifact count will go down to 3 making Thoughtcast impossible to play. Fortunately for you, there is a way around this. By declaring that you are casting Thoughtcast before filtering the mana for Chromatic Star, you lock in the Affinity for 4 off of the Thoughtcast. This means that you are able to draw three cards from this combo. You can accomplish this in MTGO simply by clicking Thoughtcast in your hand prompting the game to ask you to pay 1 blue, then use the Chromatic Star to to produce the blue mana. For those of you who play pauper on paper and have to explain to your opponent why this nifty trick works, I will post a section of the rules explaining why this is possible. Remember, the same trick can be used for Gearseeker Serpent if you need to filter the second blue, but only have 5 Artifacts in play.

601.2e The game checks to see if the proposed spell can legally be cast. If the proposed spell is illegal, the game returns to the moment before the casting of that spell was proposed (see rule 721, “Handling Illegal Actions”).

601.2f The player determines the total cost of the spell. Usually this is just the mana cost. Some spells have additional or alternative costs. Some effects may increase or reduce the cost to pay, or may provide other alternative costs. Costs may include paying mana, tapping permanents, sacrificing permanents, discarding cards, and so on. The total cost is the mana cost or alternative cost (as determined in rule 601.2b), plus all additional costs and cost increases, and minus all cost reductions. If multiple cost reductions apply, the player may apply them in any order. If the mana component of the total cost is reduced to nothing by cost reduction effects, it is considered to be {0}. It can’t be reduced to less than {0}. Once the total cost is determined, any effects that directly affect the total cost are applied. Then the resulting total cost becomes “locked in.” If effects would change the total cost after this time, they have no effect.

The interaction between Krark-Clan Shaman and Flayer Husk is very important to mention as the combination locks your opponent out of several games where Krark-Clan Shaman gets boarded in. The Flayer Husk gives Krark-Clan Shaman +1/+1, Allowing you to to board wipe every turn against Elves and Boggles without killing your Shaman. This combo will also allow you to lock Tireless Tribe out of the Inside Out combo every turn.

Once the Flayer Husk has done its job in helping with mana, It is imperative that it gets attached to a 4/4 so that it does not die To Flame Slash and Galvanic Blast. This is especially true when you are playing the mirror matchup or facing the Opposite end of a Gurmag Angler. Most mirror matchups are dependent on who abuses Flayer Husk more. Also remember that against Boros, Equipping a Frogmite with Flayer Husk will kill both their 2/2 Glint Hawk and Their 2/3 Kor Skyfisher.

Matchups:

VS Bogles: +1 Ray of Revelation, +1 Serene Heart, +3 Krark-Clan Shaman, -4 Galvanic Blast, -2 Gearseeker Serpent. One of the only exceptions to the rule of Sideboarding with Affinity is Galvanic Blast against Bogles. Because all of the creatures are Hexproof, Galvanic Blast is a dead card and thanks to Armadillo Cloak, Galvanic Blast does not do much in the way of finishing the opponent off. Gearseeker Serpents are coming out because they are entirely too slow. You have two options to deal with the Hexproof shenanigans. One option is to Blow up pertinent enchantments with Ray of Revelation or Serene Heart, the other is to Utilize an early Krark-Clan Shaman which should bide you enough turns to draw into more enchantment removal or lock your opponent out of the game by equipping a Krark-Clan Shaman with a Flayer Husk for a seemingly infinite board wipe. It is important to mention that all of the Hexproof creatures in Boggles are 1/1’s so Electrickery seems like a good idea to board in; and it is. But only if you are on the play. The reason for this is because Bogles will usually play a turn 1 Hexproof creature and a turn 2 enchantment that will put it out of Electrickery range. To reiterate, Electrickery is not wrong to board in, but for consistency purposes I would suggest boarding it in only when you are on the play. The opponent will simply board in Dispel to stop Electrickery and Serene Heart/Ray of Revelation.

VS Burn: +1 Hydroblast, +1 Dispel, +2 Feed the Clan, -2 Gearseeker Serpent , -1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Chromatic Star. Pre-Sideboard, The game depends on who can win the race for damage. Post-Sideboard depends on getting Feed the Clan or a very well timed Counterspell. You might be asking “Why is game two not a race for damage?” The simple answer is because Smash to Smithereens exists in the format. Used correctly, Smash to Smithereens can make the race impossible by blowing up a 4/4 while at the same time doing 3 damage. The game especially gets tough if Smash to Smithereens is drawn in multiples. I have lost games on two land hands where Smash to Smithereens was played on turn 2 destroying a land. Regardless, Smash to Smithereens can severely set you back. Galvanic Blast their Creatures and make Counterspelling their burn spells a priority. As long as you are in a good board state, using Feed the Clan will almost always results in biding you enough turns to kill your opponent.

VS Elves: +3 Krark-Clan Shaman, +1 Electrickery, -2 Gearseeker Serpent, -1 Prophetic Prism. Although not impossible, this is a very tough matchup. Pre-Sideboard you only have 5 removal spells while the opponent has approximately 8 spells that reload their hand. Save the removal for the Timberwatch Elf and the Wellwisher as these cards are what mainly stands in the way of victory game 1. Removing the first mana dork you see off the board is almost never a good idea game 1 unless you have multiple removal spells. Game 2 you should shoot the first guy you see to stall until you draw an Electrickery or Krark-Clan Shaman. The matchup becomes significantly more difficult post sideboard because of Gleeful Sabotage. Paired with Nettle Sentinel and Quirion Ranger, Gleeful Sabotage can blow up two lands while spitting creatures on the board as early as turn 2. Another card worth noting is Wrap in Vigor, which can save the opponent’s creatures from being board wiped. Many individuals i have talked to have suggested that Carapace Forger needs to be taken out in this matchup as Carapace Forger is an Elf and fuels several Elf abilities. I personally believe this is a mistake because with 4 less 4/4’s on the board, you will have that much harder of a time finishing the game.

VS Inside Out: +3 Krark-Clan Shaman, +2 Pyroblast, +1 Dispel, -1 Chromatic Star, -1 Prophetic Prism, -2 Gearseeker Serpent, -2 Metallic Rebuke. Pressure is the key to winning this, accept the fact that the opponent will sometimes blow you out on turn 2 or 3. If this does not happen, you need to race the deck while at the same time leaving one creature to block and one, if not two Galvanic blast mana open. A perfect scenario is to set up Krark-Clan Shaman and equip it with Flayer Husk and every turn during their upkeep, sacrifice a land to do one damage to everything, this essentially “Time Walks” you to victory. Gearseeker Serpent always comes out in matches where you will die before you get a chance to play him and is irrelevant due to Shadow Rift, Metallic Rebuke is a worse version of Pyroblast and Dispel and Chromatic Star/Prophetic Prisms are the only cards you can take out of the deck without ruining the flow of things.

Vs Izzet Blitz: +2 Pyroblast, +1 Hydroblast, -2 Gearseeker Serpent, -1 Prophetic Prism. This depends on a very specific plan that usually results in victory. First, understand that the Izzet Blitz player is more scared of you then you should be of them. Essentially, if the Izzet Blitz player attempts to drop a Kiln Fiend or Cyclops by tapping out, it will suffer a Galvanic Blast. If the player waits until turn four or five to be able to cast Kiln Fiend/Cyclops while having protection mana open, that creature will have summoning sickness and the Izzet Blitz player will be dead from attacks the next turn. Because of this, you have the advantage both games. There will be games where the opponent will sneak out a win by dropping a Cyclops and having Mutagenic growth backup on turn three. This kind of situation is rare but it does happen. It is important to note that under no circumstances do you attempt to deal with a Blitz creature on the opponent’s turn. All this does is assist in pumping the opponent’s creature when they respond. The trick is to attempt to shoot the opponent’s creature on your turn. It will make it that much more difficult to achieve the combo. Keep everything off the board and do not fall into the trap of wasting your only removal spell on a Delver of Secrets.

Vs Izzet Delver: +2 Pyroblast, +1 Hydroblast, +1 Electrickery, -2 Metallic Rebuke, -1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Chromatic Star, The entire match is a toss up on both ends. Out of 100 games i would honestly say the outcome is going to be 50/50 as long as neither player makes any play mistakes. Izzet Delver can Skred your 4/4’s off the board and counterspell an Artifact or Galvanic Blast with a Spellstutter Sprite, then turn around and block a 4/4 with it and lightning bolt that 4/4 without losing card advantage. Hydroblasts come in to deal with your Atog and Pyroblast and Swirling Sandstorm is a nightmare to deal with late game. The one big mistake you can make is overextending your side of the board early game thinking you will be able to race the Swirling Sandstorm. Giving your opponent the ability to 5-for-1 you generally results in a game loss. Hydroblast comes in to save your 4/4’s from being Skred off the board and stops the occasional premature Swirling Sandstorm. Atog is the overprotective big brother that gives Izzet Delver a hard time but the real MVP here is Gearseeker Serpent as it is almost impossible for the opponent to have 6 Snow-Covered Lands in play and Gush consistently. The Metallic Rebukes come out because Pyroblast is better due to the fact that late game the opponent can simply pay 3. Dispel does not come in because there is no room without hurting the deck’s consistency.

VS Kuldotha Boros: +1 Ancient Grudge, +1 Ray of Revelation, +1 Hydroblast, +1 Dispel, -2 Metallic Rebuke, -1 Star -1 Prophetic Prism. This is one of your better matchups in the format. Kuldotha Boros is a deck that uses Lightning Bolts, Galvanic Blasts and Journey to Nowhere in order to control the board while slowly creeping card advantage by constantly bouncing Prophetic Prism and Alchemist Vial with their Glint Hawks and Kor Skyfishers. The reason Affinity does well in this matchup is because the deck is very slow. As the Affinity player you have more 4/4’s than they have Galvanic Blasts. Furthermore, Affinity can win out of nowhere with Atog and Fling/Temur Battle Rage. The opponent will be boarding in Circle of Protection Red to attempt to stop Atog. This and Journey to Nowhere is why Ray of Revelation is being brought in. Once your board is tapped down, the opponent will attempt to Gorilla Shaman your board away and lock you out of the game. Hydroblast prevents the Gorilla Shaman from hitting the board. And Dispel helps with getting an early Fling without falling into a Prismatic Strands. Dispel also saves one of your 4/4’s form getting Galvanic Blasted. Finally, Ancient Grudge prevents the opponent from further gaining value from Kor Skyfishers and Glint Hawks by Blowing up the Prophetic Prism or Alchemist Vial on the stack. Ancient Grudge can also lock in an early upset by blowing up an artifact land with Boros Garrison’s ability on the stack.

Vs Mono Blue Delver: +2 Pyroblast, +1 Dispel, +1 Electrickery, -2 Metallic Rebuke, -1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Chromatic Star. The Pre-Sideboard matchup against Mono Blue Delver is an absolute joke. Keeping a hand that might lead to slow starts could potentially be a problem but as a whole, if you were to stick a 1/1, 2/2, and a 4/4 (assuming the other 4/4 was counterspelled) the game is won. This is leaving out the fact that Atog can win games where the opponent is tapped out and a Resolved Gearseeker Serpent forces the opponent to both Snap and Counterspell to deal with 1 threat. Save the Galvanic Blasts for either a Spellstutter Sprite that is attempting to counterspell a 4/4, or a Ninja of the Deep Hours. Pre-Sideboard, the only removal Mono Blue Delver has is the ability to Snap and Counterspell a creature upon re-entry. Post-Sideboard things get a little more awkward. Annul and Hydroblast come in. Annul is a problem because you are no longer able to trick your opponent into allowing you to slip a 4/4 creature onto the board. Now they can counterspell or Spellstutter Sprite a Carapace Forger and Annul the Myr Enforcer. More than likely, the opponent will Annul the cards that produce red, locking you out of Pyroblast so protect your mana base, and when the opponent has tapped out, play around Daze and vomit your 4/4’s on the board.

VS Mono Green Stompy: +1 Electrickery, +3 Krark-Clan Shaman, -2 Metallic Rebuke, -1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Chromatic Star. Mono Green Stompy wins against Affinity by using what i call the Bottleneck technique. Essentially Green Stompy will have three 2/2’s on the board. One 2/2 will be equipped with a Rancor while the other 2/2’s stay untapped for gang blocking one of Affinity’s 4/4’s. This forces the Affinity player to sacrifice a 4/4 to deal with a 2/2. Once the Rancor is returned to the hand, the opponent will simply play another 2/2 and equip the Rancor to an unsick creature and start the cycle over again. This cycle will continue until one of three things happen: A vault Skirge becomes equipped with Rancor and therefore becomes unblockable with lifelink, the opponent plays Silhana Ledgewalker with Rancor or Hunger of the Howlpack, or you play a Atog with Fling (Remember, Vines of Vastwood stops Temur Battle Rage). Both game on and two flow this way however, game two has two additional factors. The Affinity player can blow the opponent’s board out using Krark-Clan Shaman and the Green Stompy player early game can blow up two Lands using Gleeful Sabotage. Late game the Gleeful Sabotage can hit two Myr Enforcers.It’s not wrong to board in Ancient Grudge to deal with Vault Skirge, the problem is that if they decided to take it out game three, you have a dead card. This matchup is about 60/40 in the opponent’s favor.

Vs Tron: +2 Relic of Progenitus, +1 Dispel, +1 Pyroblast, -1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Chromatic Star, -2 Metallic Rebuke. Any version of Tron besides RUG Tron is your dream matchup. A turn 2 4/4 opening hand makes the game almost impossible to win. The reason being is that. Tron is attempting to do several things at once. Build Tron, set up for future combo plays, and attempt to stay alive. Its very hard to do all three at the same time. Relic of Progenitus comes in to stop the use of Pulse of the Murassa, Mnemonic Wall, and Moment’s Peace. Dispel counters fog spells and Pyroblast stops Mnemonic Wall and Mystical Teachings, which can be removed from the graveyard after it is cast with Relic of Progenitus. One of the big silver bullet cards against Affinity that Tron Variants board in is either Gorilla Shaman or Ancient Grudge. Gorilla Shaman late game can blow out the whole board due to the Urza Lands and Ancient Grudge allows the opponent to 2-for-1 Affinity decks which can be a nightmare. Make sure to use Relic of Progenitus every turn and play aggressive.

Vs UB Control: +2 Pyroblast, +2 Relic of Progenitus, +1 Dispel, -2 Metallic Rebuke, -1 Prophetic Prism, -1 Chromatic Star, -1 Gearseeker Serpent. This matchup is very difficult. Chainer’s Edict is awful paired with disfigure against us. Counterspells and Gurmag Angler can be a little too much to deal with. Post-Sideboard gets easier in one aspect because Relic of Progenitus can be a blowout against them but harder in another aspect because Duress and Annul sets you back significantly. Try to sneak your spells under the radar by giving the opponent an impossible choice like having a germ token in play and casing an Atog on turn three, when the Atog gets counterspelled, drop the Relic of Progenitus. If you are against an experienced UB Control player with a good list, you will lose more than you win. By following this guide however, you may be able to skate by with a few wins.

 

The Think Tank: Concepts Yet to be Abused in Vs System

Delving into other competitive TCG’s is a good way to sharpen your skills at both creative deckbuilding and problem solving. There are many concepts that exist in one game but have yet to be discovered in another. For example; one TCG may have a “Burn” concept such as Magic the Gathering while another may still need to be broken-in. Much like Yu-Gi-Oh was in the game’s early form of tournament development. Today on the Think Tank we will be discussing those concepts and cards associated with them to possibly form decks that have yet to be discovered.

Infinite Recursion
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Like many winning combos in TCG’s, this one involves graveyard recursion, a sacrificial outlet, and a character that returns the graveyard recursion back to the owner’s hand. This strategy requires the Doom and Masters of Evil Team Affiliations and the ability to cross them over. Sacrifice Rama-Tut to Devil’s Due putting a +1+1 counter on a character you control an infinite number of times. Having more than one character with infinite +1+1 counters will ensure breakthrough damage, winning the game. There are several cards in both affiliation categories that give aid to the concept but remember, Hard Sound Construct puts the character in to play, it does not recruit it.

Pass the Rock
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The idea of pass the rock is to use Darkseid, Omega’s ability to swap The Rock of Eternity and a resource your opponent controls in order to lock your opponent out of combat for the rest of the game. This card combination has been the talk of an alternate win condition in decks like Deep Green but there has been no real follow through as far as sound competitive decks.

Hand Lock
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Although the idea of Hand Lock has been around since DC’s Justice League of America set came out in November of 2005, Vs players have yet to bring the deck to the competitive scene. The plan is to give your opponent an overabundance of card advantage that he can’t really use. The Joker, Headline Stealer locks your opponent out of any additional Plot Twists and since you cannot play Locations from your hand and are limited in recruiting your Characters based on the amount of resource points you have, making your opponent draw over six cards a turn really isn’t an issue. The deck wins by using Scarecrow, Phycho Psychologist’s ability to burn your opponent for each card in his/her hand.
Post your thoughts or decklists on these subjects in the comment section and lets talk about them and remember For more information on updates to my blog or Vs System news, click the link below and like the facebook page.

 

 

 

 

The History of Vs System Part 7: Honor Among Thieves

Marvel Knights released its content to the Vs Community and provided players with access to new team affiliations. X-Stall, League of Brotherhood, Common Enemy and other Control Decklists overran the meta calling for faster, more aggressive decks to enter the format. Due to the flood of control decks in the format, players were torn between two different play styles. Control players, and players who attempted to win on or before turn six.

Honor Among Thieves

Characters:
4 Vulture, Adrian Toomes
4 Chameleon, Dmitri Smerdyakov
3 Mendel Stromm, Robot Master
4 Stilt Man, Wilbur Day
4 Hammerhead, Gangster
4 Cobra, Klaus Vorhees
4 Mysterio, Quentin Beck
1 Mr. Hyde, Calvin Zabo
1 Owl, Leland Owlsley
4 Rhino, Alex O’Hirn
1 Masked Maurader, Frank Farnum
2 Carnage, Cletus Kasady

Plot Twist
4 Honor Among Thieves
4 Blown to Pieces
4 Uprising
4 No Fear
4 Flying Kick

Location
4 Doc Ock’s Lab

MMK190
Honor Among Thieves teams up Crime Lords and Sinister Syndicate. It also gives your characters with a cost of three or less +1 ATK. This attack boost is permanent, not just when the character attacks. That piece of information is very important as it is the cornerstone of this deck.

Unlike most decks where if you wing it you may get win, so long as you don’t miss any drops, if you don’t play the deck properly you will lose, hard. Honor Among Thieves’ specific play style was a complete counter-balance to what decks were floating around in the meta at the time. At this point in history players either ran control decks or curve decks.

Control Decks: Honor Among Thieves relies on pure aggression by playing multiple characters in one turn. Especially on turn four. Decks like X-Stall have a very hard time dealing with decks that played multiple characters in one turn. Once X-Stall had to make the choice of keeping Rogue or Puppet Master, they are usually on a downward slope to a loss.

Curve Decks: Curve Decks are intended to make every drop with the corresponding character cost for that turn. Attacking characters on your initiative and boosting the attack to stun your opponents attacking characters on theirs is how you beat curve decks with Honor Among Thieves.

Turn 1: Vulture, Adrian Toomes, or Chameleon, Dmitri Smerdyakov, are the two characters you want to play this turn. Mendel Stromm, Robot Master shouldn’t be played unless it is in conjunction with another character. His ability isn’t going to be very good unless you have an additional character to play with him. One of the best plays you can make this turn is to play Vulture, flip Doc Ock’s Lab, and attack with the Flying Kick Plot Twist for a total of eight damage. In addition you will gain any breakthrough in endurance. Being as aggressive as possible in the first two turns will most likely determine the outcome of the match. Abusing Doc Ock’s Lab is important so you will want to activate it regardless of how much life you spend.

Turn 2: There are a lot of turn two plays you can make with this deck. If you have the option of choosing between different play options in your hand here are a few general guidelines.
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Stilt Man, Wilbur Day, is in the deck as a Crime Lords Character to meet Honor Among Thieves’ requirements for activation and to keep up with Beast Boy from the Teen Titans and B&B Decks. If your opponent is playing either of those decks or other decks that give characters +1+1 counters then Stilt Man is the character of choice, otherwise go with other options.
MMK094
Cobra, Cobra, Klaus Vorhees will allow you to search for Mr. Hyde, Calvin Zabo. This will take care of your turn three strategy. There are no specific or generic search cards in this deck aside from Cobra searching for Hr. Hyde. There are other turn three characters in the deck so if you feel as if you have a better turn three plan then you will need to move on in this article.
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Hammerhead is the card you want when you are anticipating your opponent to have fewer characters then you within the first three turns. Running Vulture into your opponent’s two drop (assuming they played nothing on turn one) will allow Hammerhead to get in for eight damage with the help of Dock Ock’s Lab. Best case scenario, If you followed the game plan for turn one, then you will have dealt around 18 damage within the first two turns.

Turn 3: If by turn three you haven’t had the opportunity to play a Crime Lords Character in order to activate Honor Among Thieves then there are a few tricks you can do to fix that. Chameleon is excellent for getting around affiliation issues. Using his ability can temporarily grant him the Crime Lords team affiliation. Otherwise you can recruit Rhino, Alex O’Hirn. You shouldn’t worry about life loss in this deck. Vulture causes you to break even in the end.

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Mysterio, Quentin Beck should be boosted on turn four, allowing a second Mysterio to be played. Remember, the purpose of the deck is to have more Characters then your opponent between turns four and five. If you are on the even initiative then you will need to evade both Mysterio in order to preserve your attack strategy for turn five.

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At this point in time you should be running into multiple copies of Blown to Pieces. Chameleon can assume an additional team affiliation so by choosing the Underworld team affiliation, you can bluff Blown to Pieces to be in your resource row. Blown to Pieces will give a defender +3 ATK. If Blown to Pieces is in your resource row and you control a Crime Lords character and an Underworld character, that defender gets an additional +2 ATK this attack and you may replace Blown to Pieces. This has good synergy with hitting an Uprising or Honor Among Thieves.

Final Turns:
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If you were as aggressive as possible and you have a few Honor Among Thieves online, playing Carnage, Cletus Kasady, will set your characters attack stats to above average. The Uprising Plot Twist will add another +2 ATK to all your characters that attack a character with a higher cost. Playing one or more Uprisings combined with Carnage and multiple Honor Among Thieves will end the match in your favor. You need to make the most out of every turn by dealing as much damage as possible to your opponent. Don’t waste any valuable Plot Twists and don’t miss your Dock Ock’s Lab triggers.

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From Starter Deck to Structure Deck: Doom and Fantastic Four

Although the majority of Vs cards now have significantly dropped in price, many of the good staples are still around $2.99 a piece. Playing a competitive Vs Deck can still set you back $50.00 – $100.00. This tends to push players away when considering starting or even getting back into the game.

From 2004 – 2006, I was at the top of my playgroup winning tournament after tournament in the local scene. I decided to “take it up a notch” by running decks that were considered to be over the top or completely unfair, decks such as Fate Squad, Deep Green, and X-Stall (the Gamma Bomb Version). I wanted to prove that I was the best beyond a shadow of a doubt. The issue with this is that everyone else in the local scene was running tier three decks like Dr. Doom (The Herald of Galactus Block Version), JSA, and Kang.

For those of you who don’t know and without going too much into detail, Fate Squad is a Squadron Supreme, Thunderbolts team affiliation with Fate Artifacts and cards to support them. If built properly and played against anything less than a tier two deck, it can win as early as turn four. For the next three months I would win first place every week, winning consistently on turn four. While i was on my winning streak, basking in the glory of being the best player, players slowly started to lose interest in Vs System saying things like; this deck is too broken, or Fate Artifacts should be banned. Our group dwindled from a solid 15 players to a measly four. Playing devil’s advocate; if the local Vs players were that concerned with Fate Squad or any other tier one deck they could actually do research and fix their deck accordingly but that didn’t stop the local players from giving up. The Vs System scene in my area died with me on top but it came with a price. The lesson I learned was that not only should i have taken the time to pass the knowledge I learned from playing to others over the years, but i shouldn’t have tried to smash such weaker decks with such a competitive one which brings me to the point of this article.

Vs System is a lot of fun. From do it yourself deck projects to fighting it out using your favorite comic book characters. Competitive play unfortunately sometimes takes the fun out of the game. Players who no longer have their collection or new players looking to have fun with the game will most likely stray due to lack of funds or fear of failure to better decks. Upper Deck released a series of Starter decks pinning famous teams against the team’s most common antagonist.box_fantasticfour
The Starter decks themselves contain one Vs System Rulebook, one Vs System Quick Start Guide, and two 26 card decks. Everything you need to get started. The decklist for this product is listed below:

FF/Doom Starter :

Fantastic Four

Characters
2 Noah Baxter, CEO Baxter Industries
2 H.E.R.B.I.E.
2 Invisible Woman, Protector
2 Luke Cage, Reserve Member
2 Medusa, Medusalith Amaquelin
2 Crystal, Elemental Princess
2 Human Torch, Hothead
1 She-Hulk, Green Jeans
2 Thing, Strongman
1 Mr. Fantastic, Leader

Plot Twist:
2 Personal Nemesis
2 No Fear
1 One-Two Punch
1 Flying Kick
1 Force Shield

Location: 4
1 Reed’s Workshop

Doom

Characters:
2 Kristoff Von Doom, Ticking Time Bomb
2 Boris, Doom’s Caretaker
2 Ovoid Mentor, Alien Mentalist
2 Titania, Big Bad Bully
2 Volcana, Raging Inferno
2 Victor Von Doom II, Doomed Heir
2 Sub-Mariner, Atlantean Monarch
1 Dragon Man, Experimental Monster
2 Darkoth, Death Demon
1 Dr. Doom, Scientific Sorcerer

Plot Twist:
2 Personal Nemesis
2 No Fear
1 Flying Kick
1 Cryonic Grenade
1 One-Two Punch

Location:
1 Doom’s Laboratory

This looks good after opening the package but the card count is only 26 cards per deck. After a couple of games you tend to get tired of playing the decks. This is an issue with any starter deck in Vs. Many times you will wind up not drawing the proper cards, miss your character drops, or have to use your characters as resources. This can be very frustrating when all you want to do is enjoy a game of Vs System with an old friend where the decks are even and the environment is lax.

Changing these decks to 60 cards is a lot easier and less expensive then you may think. You can obtain a FF/Doom Starter deck for as little as $2.30. You will need to purchase two copies of these decks. This will bring your total card count up to 52 for each deck. This will give you four copies of the majority of the commons in each deck, which adds consistency to what you are running. At this point you will be missing eight cards from each deck. The tricky part is finding cards to fill the deck slots that aren’t too powerful, goes with the theme of the deck, and won’t make your opponent rage quit the match while still keeping the integrity of the game.

MFF024MFF012
These two cards pretty much define each deck and what they do. The Doom deck is an aggressive deck that specializes in burn abilities but lack in defense while Fantastic Four is a little underpowered with excellent defense early in the game with the ability to turn the game around turns 5-7 using strong characters with great abilities. you will need to drop $1.00 at http://www.CoolStuffinc.com finishing out the play sets of the above cards. This brings your count to 54 cards in each deck.

Next we need to find six cards that go with the theme of each deck. The cards must be commonly used card and not too overpowered. We don’t want to make other cards in the deck seem completely useless.
Baxter Building Unstable Molecules
Unstable Molecules and Baxter Building work very well together and are not very expensive. by purchasing a play set of Unstable Molecules at $0.25 each and two copies of Baxter Building at $0.35 each you move your Fantastic Four deck count to 60 cards.
DoomstadtMicro-Size
The same goes for these two. Micro-Size and Doomstadt work very well together and will boost Dr. Doom out of range of an attack on turn seven, causing your opponent to team attack, possible biding you another turn. Doomstadt will give Micro-Size the ability to negate any combat boosts you opponent may use. You will need a play set of Mico-Size and two copies of Doomstadt. A total cost of $1.70. This is a total cost of approximately $11.00 for two-60 card decks, depending on whether or not you own Magic the Gathering Sleeves which I strongly suggest using since the cards are not longer being printed. After buying these cards, you new list should be as follows.

Fantastic Four

Characters
4 Noah Baxter, CEO Baxter Industries
4 H.E.R.B.I.E.
4 Invisible Woman, Protector
4 Luke Cage, Reserve Member
4 Medusa, Medusalith Amaquelin
4 Crystal, Elemental Princess
4 Human Torch, Hothead
2 She-Hulk, Green Jeans
4 Thing, Strongman
2 Mr. Fantastic, Leader

Plot Twist:
4 Force Shield
4 Personal Nemesis
4 No Fear
2 One-Two Punch
2 Flying Kick

Location: 4
2 Reed’s Workshop
2 Baxter Building

Equipment:
4 Unstable Molecules

Doom

Characters:
4 Kristoff Von Doom, Ticking Time Bomb
4 Boris, Doom’s Caretaker
4 Ovoid Mentor, Alien Mentalist
4 Titania, Big Bad Bully
4 Volcana, Raging Inferno
4 Victor Von Doom II, Doomed Heir
4 Sub-Mariner, Atlantean Monarch
2 Dragon Man, Experimental Monster
4 Darkoth, Death Demon
2 Dr. Doom, Scientific Sorcerer

Plot Twist:
4 Cryonic Grenade
4 Personal Nemesis
4 No Fear
4 Micro-Size
2 Flying Kick
2 One-Two Punch

Location: 4
2 Doom’s Laboratory
2 Doomsdadt

I could list the breakdown of how to play the two decks, the tips and tricks associated with every play. Important initiative decisions and recruiting options but that would take the fun out of it. If you wish for more information on these decks, want to request tips and tricks or just have a generic discussion about the blog, please leave a comment below.

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The History of Vs System Part 6: League of Brotherhood

Superman, Man of Steel was released in November 2004. Like Web of Spiderman, the set was underpowered compared to the Marvel and DC Origins sets and just like Web of Spiderman; Superman, Man of Steel released supporting cards to increase the effectiveness of decks already in the Meta such as Teen Titans and B&B. The majority of the support seemed to lean toward the League of Assassins team affiliation. Among many cards release for the team, one card in particular stood out.
DMS-144
Merlyn, Deadly Archer’s Ability Allows you to KO a character with a cost less than the number of locations you control on your attack step. Players that saw the potential in this card asked themselves two questions.

1. What team affiliation has the most support for Locations besides League of Assassins?
2. Is there a Location to team them up so as to not lose the effectiveness of Merlyn’s ability?

The first answer is obvious. Big Brotherhood was a deck with very strong Location support. Adding Merlyn and the League of Assassins Location package to the mix would prove to be devastating. The answer to the second question would seal the deal in the player’s deck choice to once again break the format.

DMS-156
Metropolis was the first Location of its kind to provide a generic team up. The League of Assassins as a whole was too weak to support any type of abuse for Merlyn. Metropolis not only allows for multiple copies of it face up at one time but it lets you team up with another team affiliation for added location support such as Brotherhood.

League of Brotherhood

Characters

4 Talia, Daughter of the Demon’s Head
4 Quicksilver, Pietro Maximoff
4 Quicksilver, Speed Demon
4 Mystique, Raven Darkholme
3 Mystique, Shape-Changing Assassin
4 Magneto, Eric Lehnsherr
3 Magneto, Master of Magnetism
1 Ra’s Al Ghul, Master Swordsman
1 Ra’s Al Ghul, The Demon’s Head
4 Merlyn, Deadly Archer

Plot Twists
3 Have a Blast!
4 The Demon’s Head
4 Tower of Babel

Locations
4 Lost City
4 Avalon Space Station
4 Metropolis
4 Mountain Stronghold
1 Lazarus Pit
1 Flying Fortress

If you haven’t read The History of Vs System Part 1: Big Brotherhood please read the article before reading further. The article contains tips and tricks to using “The Brotherhood” portion of this deck. if you don’t know the full aspect of how to effectively run that deck, adding the League of Assassins package isn’t going to help and possibly make your game play worse.

The Location Package:
Lost City Avalon%20Space%20StationMountain%20StrongholdDMS-156
Lazarus Pit Flying FortressDMS-146

For the more knowledgeable Vs player, the deck is the earliest recorded stages of Deep Green, a location heavy deck that revolves entirely around abusing Merlyn and other characters like him. The purpose of this deck is to utilize the League of Assassins support that was added to the Big Brotherhood deck such as Mountain Stronghold’s Tutor ability, Flying Fortress to give your attacking character flight, Lazarus Pit to keep your characters from getting KO’ed and Tower of Babel to stop team attack options or prevent team specific character pumps and abilities while simultaneously utilizing Merlyn’s ability to the fullest extent.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to play Merlyn on turn four. Merlyn’s ability only works during your attack and only if he has a cosmic counter so keeping him from becoming stunned is key. Using Lost City and Avalon Space Station will easily prevent him from becoming stunned so if they are not online, The Demon’s Head should be used to retrieve them.

Ensure that every resource in your resource row is either a Location or The Demon’s Head. The Demon’s Head should be played only when one of your characters would become a defender. You must exhaust a character upon playing The Demon’s Head. With that in mind, you should only activate it if you know that character will become stunned.

The Deck runs exactly like Big Brotherhood so again, if you haven’t read The History of Vs System Part 1: Big Brotherhood, you need to read it. The League of Assassins support is the only changes made to the original list with the exception of Relocation being taken out for Have A Blast!

Final Turns:
Magneto, Master of MagnetismRas al Ghul, The Demons Head
Big Brotherhood had little to no support for an eight cost character, much less a character that you could power up with Lost City and use for food when activating Avalon Space Station early in the game. Should the game drag into turn eight, Ra’s Al Ghul, The Demon’s Head will allow you to flip multiple copies of lost city and Avalon Space Station.

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Banned List: 19 Jan 15 Announcement

On 19 Jan 2015, WOTC announced a change in the Banned/Restricted List which mainly affects the Modern Format. Coincidently, Pro Tour: Fate Reforged is less than a month away and Modern is the selected Format for the event. The Meta suffers a loss of three cards and will take on an unexpected twist with the return of another.

Modern Format (Banned)
Birthing Pod
Treasure Cruise
Dig Through Time

Modern Format (No Longer banned)
Golgari Grave Troll

Legacy Format (Banned)
Treasure Cruise

Legacy Format (No Longer Banned)
Worldgorger Dragon

Vintage (Restricted)
Treasure Cruise

Vintage Format (No Longer Restricted)
Gifts Ungiven

Birthing Pod
Birthing Pod has been the spotlight of the Meta in Modern for the past year. When players sat at the testing tables with either homebrew decks hoping to take it to the top or lists found from past major tournaments after the cut to the top eight, there was one question that was always asked. Can it beat Pod? Every set that has entered into the Meta over the past two years have added at least one creature to the toolbox of options when using Birthing Pod. Birthing Pod has won five out of the twelve grand prix over the last year and continues to keep decks with unfavorable matchups out of the Meta. WOTC has always supported formats being diverse and in good faith with keeping the format alive, WOTC has banned Birthing Pod.
TreasureCruise DigThroughTime
Delver has been a deck in Modern that has slowly started to gain attention since the second half of this past year but exploded in popularity with the release of Khans of Tarkir due to Treasure Cruise. The ability to draw three cards for one blue manna after the use of fetch lands, cheap cantrips, and Thought Scour is good. In fact, WOTC believed it was too good due to multiple successful deck archetypes running Treasure Cruise. So why ban Dig Through Time? The answer is simple. Dig Through Time is the card players will choose if Treasure Cruise never existed. If Dig Through Time took Treasure Cruise’s place, would the results be all that different? WOTC decided to ban both cards. Due to the same reasons Treasure Cruise is banned in Modern, it is also banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage.
IvGGolgariGraveTroll
Golgari Grave-Troll’s Dredge effect will have an interesting impact on the current Meta for players looking to “break” the format. Though I can’t say for sure if we will be seeing him in any top eight decklist, WOTC believed unbanning Golgari Grave-Troll would add variety to the Meta without having any significant impact.
Worldgorger Dragon
Aside from Worldgorger Dragon’s Synergy with Animate Dead and a few other cards, the Legacy Format should have the same impact unbanning Worldgorger Dragon as the Modern Format would have unbanning Golgari Grave-Troll.
giftsungiven
There was a time when Gifts Ungiven wrecked the vintage format causing it to be restricted. Currently however, Gifts Ungiven rarely makes an appearance, occasionally being seen in Vintage tier 2 decks. This card is back and unrestricted.

That’s the rundown of WOTC’s recently announced update to the Banned/Restricted list. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below. We want to know if you agree or disagree with the recent changes and how it’s going to affect you. For more information on blog updates, MTG News, and Event Coverage, Like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MTGFleaMarket

The History of Vs System Part 5: X-Stall

Marvel’s Web of Spiderman was released in September 2004. The set introduced two new teams to the game; Spider Friends and Sinister Syndicate. Neither of which made an immediate appearance in any major tournaments. In fact, Web of Spiderman is considered to be one of the weaker sets in Vs. What Web of Spiderman did bring us was approximately 10 support cards for other teams that would once again change the meta. Surprisingly those support cards forged the main staples behind X-Stall.

Characters:
4 Puppet Master, Philip Masters
4 Wolverine, Logan
4 Rogue, Power Absorption
4 Jean Grey, Marvel Girl
4 Professor X, Charles Xavier
1 Sunfire, Shiro Yoshida
2 Emma Frost – Headmistress of Xavier’s Academy
4 Mimic, Calvin Rankin
4 Professor X, World’s Most Powerful Telepath
3 Jean Grey, Phoenix Force
2 Onslaught, Psionic Spawn of Xavier and Magneto

Plot Twists
4 Acrobatic Dodge
4 Children of the Atom
4 Pleasant Distraction
3 Burn Rubber

Locations
4 X-Corporation
3 Cerebro
2 Avalon Space Station

X-Stall is a very important piece of Vs System history. It was the first of its kind to attempt to stall the game all the way to turn nine, recruiting Onslaught, Psionic Spawn of Xavier and Magneto.
Puppet Master, Philip MastersRogue, Power AbsorptionMSM-119Professor X, World's Most Powerful TelepathMSM-156
Abusing Puppet Master is the key to survival in this deck. With that being said, your decision to mulligan revolves entirely around whether or not Puppet Master is in your opening hand. Rogue and Mimic copies Puppet Master’s ability making it harder for your opponent to deal damage. When I first started playing this deck I would get discouraged when i didn’t hit the perfect curve; Puppet Master, Wolverine, Rogue, Professor X, Charles Xavier, Mimic, Professor X World’s Most Powerful Telepath, Jean Grey, Phoenix Force and Onslaught, Psionic Spawn of Xavier and Magneto. I would especially get nervous when my opponent would play multiple characters in a turn. Puppet Master only affects one character and has no team affiliation. Because of this, if your opponent planned correctly, they could strategically weed Puppet Master out or make his ability useless over time due to your opponent choosing what character he/she exhausts. After playing the deck for a few months i started to realize that hitting the perfect curve was not the priority. The priority was simply staying alive until turn eight. I also realized that even though Puppet Master would get KO’ed, i could still easily survive.

The Backup Plan:
Professor X, Charles XavierRogue, Power AbsorptionMSM-119MSM-104
Sometimes when piloting this deck you will run into an awkward situation where playing Children of the Atom to recover Rogue or Wolverine in an attempt to select puppet master as the Character you recover during the recovery phase keeping the stall engine going doesn’t work. Usually this is because your opponent has stunned more than one character or found a way to KO Puppet Master using a Plot Twist or Character ability. If Puppet Master becomes KO’ed, Rouge and Mimic suddenly become average characters in a format were average isn’t good enough. If this happens your plan should switch to making your opponent discard his/her entire hand by turn seven. With Professor X coming into play, activating his ability and Rouge copying Professor X, your opponent discards a total of three cards on turn five. Turn six is a total of three again with Mimic’s ability and If you’re lucky, you will have forced your opponent to discard his turn six character on turn five and his turn seven character on turn six, ensuring Jean Grey wipes the board on turn eight.

Life Gain:
X-CorporationAvalon%20Space%20StationMSM-119
X-Corporation is crucial in this deck. Even with the ability to exhaust characters, loss of life happens which is why it is important to be aggressive with activating X-Corporation, gaining four life by discarding an X-Men Character card. We get those characters back from the graveyard by using Avalon Space Station. Mimic is the only Brotherhood Character in the deck so be mindful of his advantages when deciding what to discard. If X-Corporation is activated by discarding an X-Men Character every turn from the moment you can activate it, you will have gained 28 life by turn eight.

The Final Decision:
Jean Grey, Phoenix ForceOnslaught, Psionic Spawn of Xavier and Magneto
Obviously your turn eight play is to recruit Jean Grey, Phoenix Force. If you were following my advice on the paragraphs above then you should have a character named Jean Grey in your graveyard put there by either Avalon Space Station or X-Corporation. Activate Jean Grey during the combat step or after your opponent has recruited for the turn. If your initiative is odds then recruit Onslaught next turn. If it is even, repeat the steps you took last turn until you’re able to recruit Onslaught on your initiative. I’ve been in situations were I cleared the board with Jean Grey and played onslaught on a turn where my opponent attacked before onslaught’s ability went off, causing my endurance to go below zero so remember, just because you play Onslaught doesn’t mean that you win. You have to be just as vigilant on turns nine and ten as you would be turns three and four.

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