It has now been a good few weeks since the spider-man set landed, and hopefully people have had enough time to get a look at plenty of the characters. I figured it was now time to start considering them in a bit more detail.
First up, there are a few obvious stars of the show, who I wanted to highlight- these have been the top picks in draft games we’ve played, and seem to have even more potential for constructed teams, where you can tailor your build to get the most value from their ability.
First up, is the uncommon Vulture – a character with potential to generate a seriously monstrous attack. His printed stats are nothing to write home about, but every time a character leaves the field zone, gets +4 attack until the end of the round. Find a way to give him over-crush, and he can do some major damage.
The only problem with Vulture is that he doesn’t do a lot by himself, you have to combo him with something (although the options are plenty, and some are very good). Within this set, the super-rare Black Cat has potential, if you can field her at the right moment to trigger the underdog, and re-roll all of your opponent’s characters – this has the added advantage of removing potential blockers, making it more likely that the attack will hit home.
For our Spider-Man draft event, I made it to the final thanks to Vulture and the Basic Action Casualties, which can be used to KO a sidekick dice (or two). In an ideal world, you’ll be KO-ing your opponent’s sidekicks, but the card is worded in such a way that you can KO your own, in order to trigger Vulture’s effect. As noted in the Basic Actions review, the new card True Believer looks (and may well have been) custom-made for Vulture. Silver Sable: Hero for Hire is also a good tool to have, as she not only makes him unblockable, but leaves the field to do so, guaranteeing a minimum of 6 unblocked attack.Looking more broadly, there are loads of cards you can combine this with for good effect. Any of the AvX Storms, or Hulk can provide large amounts of board-clearance, to give Vulture the boost he needs – for a bit of perspective, if you manage to remove 4 characters from the field (even if it’s just some sidekicks) a single unblocked Vulture will be dealing 18-20 damage! That said, it’s a fairly expensive set-up, and when I tried this in a constructed tournament, it was quicker to just bludgeon my opponent with Guy Gardners.
If you manage to land a Rare Blue-Eyes White Dragon, the option to KO your own character for a cost-reduction is powerful enough to have gathered a lot of fans, and the added benefit here sends it into overdrive.
As mentioned above, a Vulture-based team took me all the way to the final of a draft-tournament the other week, at which point I ran into something terrifyingly fast, a team built around the new common Green Goblin.
A 4-cost common, this character is fairly easily acquired. His field cost is a fairly steep 0-2-3, with disappointing stats at level 1, but 4s and 5s at the upper two levels. Where he comes into his own though, is with the ability to field him, or spin him up a level, for the cost of a life. The flexibility of this is priceless- you never need to worry about drawing two or three of these in a turn and not being able to afford the energy to field them. Equally, you don’t need to worry about him getting stuck out in the field on a low level.
One of the main differences I see been good players and novice players of this game, is that the good players see life as a limited resource- obviously it doesn’t do to run out altogether, but spending a few to gain an advantage is definitely worth it. The fact that this kind of Green Goblin build can take shape so quickly also means that games will generally be over before the attritional effect of this kind of life-loss will come back to haunt you.
As noted above, Vulture really requires set-up to work. All you need with Green Goblin, is a field to attack into. An empty one is best, but these characters are easy enough to get up to a 4A 4D level, that you can just batter down opposing defences over a few rounds.
The biggest drawback to using this Green Goblin, is that it stops you playing the others- I made this mistake, turning up to a casual play session with both of the Amazing Spider-Man Green Goblins in a single team, and having to swap one out [I cut this guy, but only because I’d just drawn my first zombie, and wanted the chance to try him out]. The AvX super-rare, “Gobby” was very popular in the early days of the game, together with Human Torch, and could potentially be worth revisiting, now that it’s possible to have extra side-kicks in play (due to the Ally mechanic) – however, a Gobby build is going to leave itself very vulnerable to underdog effects, or to Betrayal.
As a last mention, I wanted to highlight another card from this set that I think has some good potential. More an enabler than a destructive card in itself, the Rare version of this card, “MJ” allows you to give one of your fielded characters overcrush until the end of the turn – with an additional +1A if the target character is Spider-Man.
The most obvious point of comparison here, is the 2-cost action Hulk Out! MJ is a safer play as, being a character, she can only be purchased by the player who brought the card, and you don’t need to worry about her being used against you. On the other hand, MJ’s effect is specifically limited to non-villains, so you can’t combine her with Vulture.
If the character you want to give overcrush to is a non-villain, then MJ seems to be clearly the better option – the risk element is basically removed, and you have a character you can use into the bargain. The only real time this would change, would be with an action-heavy team that can cycle action dice and derive additional benefits simply from having played an action (Baron Zemo, Doctor Strange etc)
I mentioned a while back, in an article on Teamwork, that the X-Men characters we had seen to date had done very little to interact with each other, or to encourage a positive synergy. This set includes only 2 X-Men characters – a new Wolverine, and Blink, but the Wolverine options we see here, finally give us an encouragement to field a team with a high concentration of X-Men.
Like the versions of Wolverine we have seen before, the numbers on his dice are solid, with an average attack of nearly 6, and reasonable defence. However, his purchase cost is sky-high: 6 for the uncommon (probably the least useful version) and 7 for the others, which makes for a dismally low level of efficiency.
In the final analysis, this version of Wolverine, probably isn’t worth the effort, although I’ll have to give him a go, just because this effect has been such a long time coming. To give his text in full, it reads “When one or more [X-Men] character dice leave the Field Zone, you may sacrifice Wolverine to return those characters to the Field Zone.”
Sacrificing a character of this size is a big deal, so you would need to find a way to make this worthwhile. A build where you’re going to have LOTS of unblocked X-Men smashing their way through all at once would seem the logical one, but by the time you’ve got that much of a set-up done, could you not have won the game anyway, whilst doing this? For 7 cost, you could have Cyclops: If looks could kill, a character who can very easily clear your opponent’s field AND do them 5 or 6 damage, whilst making a single attack by himself (attack boosts from something as simple as the “enrage” global can also work wonders here.)
As I’ve said, I’ll play around with this for a bit, because I really want there to be a good reason to run an all X-Men team (although, come to think of it, Cyclops + a load of weenies, + Teamwork could be hilarious…), but sadly, I just don’t think that Wolverine is that reason.
Whilst there are interesting things you can do with assorted Villains and X-Men, the chances are that you came to this set for Spider-Man and his friends. Previously a completely non-existent affiliation, this set brings no less than 20 Spider-Friends to the dice-pool, meaning that you instantly have a variety of options. Fittingly, these builds seem to centre around Spider-Man himself. My favourite, as already mentioned in the starter set review, is the “Tangled Webs” version who can give all your Spider-Friends +2A when attacking, but there is also obvious utility to the common version who reduces the purchase cost of other Spider-Friends when active. Luke Cage, Aunt May and Gwen Stacy also have versions who key off of the affiliation, with Luke fetching or protecting Spidey, and the others assisting with fielding (either their own, or that of others) when Spider-Friends are around.
Overall, I think this is a good set. The hectic release schedule that Wizkids is maintaining means that we still haven’t seen all that much play for these, as people are still working through War of Light teams, but this definitely feels like it has some possibilities in it.