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.

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

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-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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