• Pretending to Know Stuff Vol. 6

    Attachment 4036Welcome back for another edition of Pretending to Know Stuff. The unlimited or constructed "Meta" Ė what is in RIGHT NOW. Whatís still in the Meta, what joined the Meta from the most recent set, and what from the most recent set can help combat the Meta. This column will be full of bias. I canít help it. I will favor stuff you donít, and I will inexplicably fail to mention something you think is amazing. The comments are a place to politely point out where you disagree and let me know what I might have missed.



    Today's article comes with homework. If you have not already read the analysis of @archivist over on the PDC's website, here, go now, I'll gladly wait. In fact, check out the weekly round-up articles too. Not only is his analysis spot-on, but also if I tried to recap it, I'm not sure I could do it justice. Read his work, then come back for my veritable nonsense. Ready? Ok, here we go.

    The last couple months have been amazing for the game's health. We've seen significant activity on the WizKids Rules Forum (WKRF), new OP kits announced, the regional event at SLCC, and a host of new regionals announced for February's WKO events. There are many reasons to be excited about for the game - the aforementioned support from WK is not least of these. A competitive scene with more viable options than I can count is certainly another.

    With the stats and info the folks at PDC have provided, we know a couple things - we know that old win conditions can still do significant work. Gobby, Tsarina, Johnny Storm, Green Goliath, Jade Giant - they're all on winning teams. We also know that there's no need to have any AVX at all and still find a way to win.

    So if you joined the game after AVX was out of print (the second time) and do not want to invest a small fortune into picking it up, what can you do? Model a team after Marcus Wilson's. These and other so-called Shakespeare teams (because they stab themselves until the opponent dies), might only want a Silver Surfer for the global from AVX (but Marcus's winning team did not have or need one). Guy Gardner rush teams also do not need AVX cards either, and they have demonstrated an ability to win. For that matter, @zeon20's dragons get by just fine without AVX, and that is a team (and pilot) that wins a lot more than it loses.

    In fact, AVX only cracks the top 7 in top cards for PDC events by way of a tie. D&D cracks the top 10 three times. Maybe it is just how strong D&D is as a set in totality. Maybe it's coincidence. Maybe it's more players seeing a bigger picture of how abilities fit together? Maybe it's just that the abilities of Swarm and the Human Paladin Global are not available in other sets and the Red Dragon Global fits better on most teams than the Thousand Dragon Global. In any case, ASM, the newest set, and YGO, probably the most polarizing set, are the only two not to crack the top 10. I absolutely cannot wait to see what this analysis looks like after WKOs. And again after PDC State Championships. And again after Nationals. PDC Regionals. World's.

    My favorite part of seeing the stats in the Shifting Meta article is trying to predict what happens next. Given the increase in global use, will we see an increase in Rare Jinzo , Rare Wasp , or Rare Doomcaliber Knight ? Punishing your opponent for using globals is an obvious step to take in response to seeing more globals being utilized. Will the game soon offer us a character with global hate? I don't know, but I would imagine it is probably only a matter of time. We have action hate in all four energy types, so I would expect this at some point.


    Half the cards in the top 10 cost 3 or less. Will we see more Zombie Magneto? I am doubtful. ZM only allows you one die and is an expensive counter to multiple cheap threats. This leads to my next point - as much as we talk about the rock-paper-scissors nature of building your team, we should also talk about the same thing in playing your team. I was recently testing and it was remarkable how differently games would go based on which purchases were made and which characters hit the field. Even in-game there is an element of rock-paper-scissors. Scripting turns is great for planning, but be prepared to make changes mid-game or mid-match as is necessary.


    I should add that not all of the combinations you see across from you may be intended to work the way you expect. I had Green Goliath, Iron Fist, and the Blue-Eyes White Dragon (BEWD) Global on my team. But not so I could use the second part of Iron Fist's ability (I've never actually done that in a competitive match). Sidekicks when I don't want them can mess with my team's consistency. BEWD really fixes that. Sometimes pieces fit teams for different reasons. Paying attention to how your opponent uses the tools they brought with them can help you play against that team.


    I know I sound like a broken record, but that makes it even more important to know your team. In a game that has serious growth potential, that is getting the support it needs and deserves from the publisher, and has a vibrant meta with talented players, the only way to be competitive is to know your team better than the opponent knows her team. I have no doubt this only becomes more and more obvious and important as new sets come out and more combinations come to light. The pattern is there. From Nationals to World's to PDCs, the meta is growing and healthy. The game is growing and healthy. Are you, as a pilot growing and getting better?



    Cheers!
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      Great article, this entire series has been valuable to me as a deck builder and player, as well as entertaining to me as a reader. It is a fantastic form of encouragement for new players when we can point out they don't need AvX to be competitive at the highest levels of play. Having said that, if I'm reading it correctly, there is a good global and action hate card in AvX that is Mask energy. Overshadowed by the dreaded and ubiquitous PXG cards from UXM, Professor X, Powerful Telepath has a while active effect of shutting down your opponent's use of globals or actions unless they pay 2 life (avoiding the GG ping that Wasp triggers). I will cheerfully admit I'm not cool enough to have thought this up on my own. Nicholas Pham, who just placed 1st in PDC at San Diego, wrote it up in an article about overlooked/underplayed cards in 2014.
    1. Jthomash2's Avatar
      Jthomash2 -
      Thanks for the feedback! It's true the uncommon Professor X of AVX is reasonable action/global hate. But when compared to Jinzo, it misses the mark considerably. Jinzo could cost your opponent all their life on one turn. Professor X is limited to 2 life per turn and you miss out on having pxg in a potentially valuable team slot. It fails to wow me in a meaningful way on its own (frankly, I guess, so does DCK to some degree). For me, the point really is that the game is growing, and I think it's doing it at a healthy pace (I am not overly disappointed with product delays). I think we'll continue to see abilities creep from one energy type to another, though maybe not in identical ways. This is great because it keeps us building, playing, and experimenting.
    1. Stormyknight's Avatar
      Stormyknight -
      I'm waiting on a cheaper character with mcrooks ability, it's fair and fun, and not so powerful that a lower cost character wouldn't be able to have the ability since it's a choice.
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jthomash2 View Post
      Thanks for the feedback! It's true the uncommon Professor X of AVX is reasonable action/global hate. But when compared to Jinzo, it misses the mark considerably. Jinzo could cost your opponent all their life on one turn. Professor X is limited to 2 life per turn and you miss out on having pxg in a potentially valuable team slot. It fails to wow me in a meaningful way on its own (frankly, I guess, so does DCK to some degree). For me, the point really is that the game is growing, and I think it's doing it at a healthy pace (I am not overly disappointed with product delays). I think we'll continue to see abilities creep from one energy type to another, though maybe not in identical ways. This is great because it keeps us building, playing, and experimenting.
      I agree completely that card for card the Rare Jinzo is a better card, even with PX AVX Uncommon being 1 pt cheaper per die to purchase, just wanted to point out a mask option was there. In my local meta it could also be sleeper card as I'm not playing against PDC players. They see a PX, they think they know what they're looking at, they get a nasty surprise. Yes, the really great part is that this game is growing soundly and solidly. I'm not too concerned about product delay, either. My local stores frequently don't see single packs until the product is more than a month out. ASM has been available in single packs locally for less than two weeks. Please keep putting out these great articles, I appreciate them very much.
    1. IsaacBV's Avatar
      IsaacBV -
      Solid write up as always JT. I also cannot wait to see if we see the same types of teams in Feb make their precence known for WKOs
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      One interesting point about PXG: since it is the most frequently used card, the chances my opponent will be fielding this card are high. Therefore, do I construct a team that does not depend on using PXG, giving me an additional card slot to fill?
      There are many winning combinations using only cards with 4 or less purchase costs.
      However, if you construct a team that has a key (winning condition) 5+ cost character(s), the safer bet is to bring PXG and not rely on your opponent having it.
    1. Jthomash2's Avatar
      Jthomash2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by archivist View Post
      One interesting point about PXG: since it is the most frequently used card, the chances my opponent will be fielding this card are high. Therefore, do I construct a team that does not depend on using PXG, giving me an additional card slot to fill?
      There are many winning combinations using only cards with 4 or less purchase costs.
      However, if you construct a team that has a key (winning condition) 5+ cost character(s), the safer bet is to bring PXG and not rely on your opponent having it.
      Great point! There was a lengthy discussion of this very topic months ago here, and the discussion also mentions AVX Professor X. The reality is these questions are driving the current meta, just as they did for World's. That's (to my knowledge) why Dave Walsh had the common Doomcaliber Knight and not the uncommon as he did at US Nationals. He knew you could use Prismatic Spray to essentially steal the PXG global (since most people want to use the global on their opponent's turn, if you blank the card on your turn your opponent loses access to it during the time they want it most) and he expected to see opponents bring Spray, so he brought common DCK as a counter to preserve his PXG. For him, it was so important that he dedicated two spots to having it available. These are the things that force us to make decisions in building and, frankly, I couldn't be more thankful for them.
    1. IsaacBV's Avatar
      IsaacBV -
      If you have a 5+ cost character you need to get out quickly, I dont think you can play without PXG and expect your opponent to always have one. The need for the card is strong for most of the people who play that way. I like the idea of Pris spray but can't see playing with it over PXG