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Sub-Meta Musings

Off the Meta | Iron Man and Introductions

Rating: 3 votes, 4.67 average.
Hello and Welcome everybody!

I'm Necromanticer and I'd like to introduce you to some characters that you may not have given much thought in the past.

As a few of you may know, I host a weekly character review thread on the Dice Masters subreddit, but I'd like to take advantage of the blogging system available here on The Reserve Pool's site and share with you all. Not only will this allow me to include the character card images right alongside my passages, but it also means I can take advantage of the formatting options afforded by the blog design here.
Since this is my first time posting, I invite you all to provide any sort of critiques or feedback on how to improve the format and your takes on the actual review itself will always be welcome in the comments. With all the introductions out of the way, let's talk about Iron Man from the very first Avengers vs. X-Men set.

Overall: Iron Man is a very defensive character with reasonable stats and abilities centered around pings and incidental damage. He's going to benefit greatly from any source of indiscriminate AoE or at the very least be able to weather it effectively. As a permanent Avenger, he can do great things alongside or against the Hulk who also benefits from AoE and pings, and they both team up nicely with Nick Fury. He also synergizes with War Machine who is slightly less defensive, but gains bonus effects while Iron Man is active. Because of his tanky natural statline and benefits upon taking damage, he works very well in any format involving overcrush. Not only will he soak up a lot of the incoming damage, but he'll also be able to redirect some of it effectively. Because of this, you should almost always be bringing Slifer the Sky Dragon - Lightning Blast instead of Magic Missile so you have more room for basic actions as you'll almost always want to bring along some form of overcrush. Iron Man is a great choice for a wall, but isn't a likely candidate for a win condition, so be prepared to work with the space and advantage that he gives you. (Iron Man is an AvX Starter, so his usage in Limited is going to be next to nothing)

Iron Man - Inventor:
The first and among the cheapest Iron Men with a 4-shield purchase, he reduces all incoming damage by 1 or 2 depending upon his burst face. He also brings a global allowing your to pay shields in order to redirect damage to one of your characters. While his global is mostly worthless, the Inventor himself has a lot of hidden potential. He can be a very difficult figure to blast down with abilities or damage effects due to his innate mitigation. This is most noteworthy when considering his interactions with Hulk - Green Goliath. At level three, your opponent is going to be completely unable to kill him with a single Hulk/Magic Missile combo. This is fantastic given that he's a 4-cost character from the starter set and how popular the Green Goliath is in the current meta. He does lose to a level 1 Jade Giant, but Jade Giant has yet to become the standard in the present meta, leaving this Iron Man in a very strong position. I think he has a place in any format in which Hulk can be played, so all of them

Iron Man - Philanthropist:
At a 5-shield purchase, you're still getting your money's worth from this Iron Man. He grants you 1 or 2 life every time he's damaged, depending upon hist burst face. 1-bolt for 2 life is a truly mouth watering proposition with Magic Missile/Slifer and if you're going to be playing a control team, I can think of no better option outside of Marvel Girl - Humanity (who can actually be played alongside Iron Man and Polymorph for a sickening combo in Unlimited). He directly rewards you for bringing a lot of AoE effects, working beautifully as a counter to aggro teams. He also functions essentially as the anti-Nova, giving you life for AoE/pings instead of dealing damage. I'd recommend running him in Limited if you want to have a way to keep yourself healthy and counter aggro teams, but he really shines in Unlimited. There you can match him alongside a lot of AoE effects like Blue Dragon - Lesser Dragon, any iteration of Vibe, and other life givers like the aforementioned Marvel Girl for a very focused control team.

Iron Man - Playboy:
Once more a cheap purchase, this Iron Man turns the tables and starts dealing damage while taking it. While Philanthropist was the anti-Nova, Playboy is Nova's brash but lovable alter-ego with a heart of gold. He deals three damage to an opposing character whenever he takes damage in the attack step. Now, this may not sound as useful compared to Nova's direct damage, but that's just because you're not thinking about the possible applications. As I said before, Iron Man is perfectly suited for any type of game with overcrush involved and this version exemplifies that. If you attack with an overcrush character, you can ping this Iron Man in the globals step in order to reduce the opposing defense by 3, adding a higher amount of damage than any other effect in the game, including Nova - The Human Rocket and the oft-combo'd Cone of Cold global. That said, he is difficult to make work as well as Nova if you don't have overcrush. One very particular setup to take advantage of in Unlimited is the Blue Dragon - Lesser Dragon. If you use your your overcrush die after blockers have been declared, you will be able to increase your damage capacity by a minimum of 4 if your targeted character is only single-blocked.

Iron Man - Billionaire:
For 6-shields, you get a character that doesn't take damage from non-shield characters. This is actually a very strong ability. It can shut down any non-shield character that gets overcrush and because of the lack of powerful shield characters, that's going to be pretty much every single one. The real issue with this Iron Man is that he costs a ton and provides very limited utility. For the same cost, you could get a Hulk of your own and go to town obliterating your opponent. As it stands, this Iron Man makes a very effective wall, but so do his prior versions and they all bring something special to the table for cheaper. This Iron man simply ignores character damage and that's really not enough for a 6-cost, despite its strength.

Iron Man - Phoenix Buster:
Our first OP card of this series is a bit of a let-down. He retains his statline and has a whopping 7-cost. His effect, you ask? Prep a sidekick when he takes damage. That's right, for a full 7-cost purchase, you're getting a mediocre ramp effect. Just like Billionaire, there's simply no way to justify that purchase cost. He's never going to be a reasonable value proposition since he'd only legal in Constructed and Unlimited, there's always going to be better uses of your energy. That said, his artwork is really cool and he'll look great in your collection, regardless of in-game viability!

Counterplay: This is where it gets interesting. Since most of the versions of Iron Man you're going to see benefit from taking damage, how are you supposed to remove them? The answer is direct knockouts. In-set, you have the lesser used Hulk - Jade Giant to constantly knock him out, Punisher - McRook to make your opponent pay, or even Smash! which can also shut down overcrush strategies involving Iron Man. In Unlimited, you have a much wider variety of options, but the best would likely be Psylocke - Kwannon the Assassin. She's a very versatile character that fits into any team due to her incredibly cheap price and the ubiquitous PXG. In Unlimited, you also have the option to shut down the globals, actions, and AoE's that give Iron Man his power. Jinzo - Trap Destroyer will make your opponent pay for his uses of Magic Missile/Slifer and Namor - Atlantean will put a stop to any overcrush play involving action dice.

Conclusion: Iron Man's cheaper forms are very powerful characters that work well in any environment involving Hulk. Not only can they directly counter the Hulk's damage by absorbing it or having their good friend War Machine - James Rhodes knock him out directly, but they can also feed off the same effects being used to activate the Hulk in the first place. His Avengers affiliation only strengthens his bond with the Hulk and invites Nick Fury to remove his unattractive fielding cost. There's also an innate synergy between Iron Man and overcrush, giving you a real incentive to bring along Thrown Car or Anger Issues. Even in Unlimited, Iron Man can thrive. Your options for ping effects and AoE abilities go through the roof and you're going to have an overwhelming amount of synergies to choose from. With all that said, it is important to note that Iron Man doesn't do well as a win condition. He's going to supplement your other characters and soak lots of damage, but you're going to need a stronger character like the Hulk to act as a true finisher.

That's all for now, with this first insallment of Off the Meta to grace The Reserve Pool. If the feedback is positive enough, I may migrate the whole review from reddit to The Reserve Pool, but that's still to be seen. Once again, if you have any idea for how to improve the format or these reviews in general, I'd love to hear it. Don't hesitate to comment on my analysis down below and until next time, Have a good day everybody!


  1. RJRETRO's Avatar
    Love the format! I love talk that looks at different metas, so this is a great article series. Keep it going!