Off the Meta | The Amazingly Overlooked Spider-Man
by, 06-08-2015 at 07:46 PM (1849 Views)
Hello and welcome back one and all. It's the start of a new week and it's time to root back through the past sets and take a look at characters that we may not have payed too much attention to at the time. Today we'll be looking to the Uncanny X-Men to provide today's champion: Spider-Man!
Spider-Man is an interesting character. He is evidence of the imbalanced nature of early designs because nowadays, a 4-cost 3/3, 4/4, 5/5 with TFC-3 is the golden standard for an average character. The fact that Spider-Man shaves a bit of that TFC off is only the beginning of his intricacies. He also has a wide range of effects that run the gamut from blocker manipulation, to damage mitigation, to direct removal. That said, his iterations are usually quite niche, making him hard to design a team around and his lack of affiliation can make it difficult to justify his use in the face of more compatible characters. Plain and simple, you're paying an average price for a slightly better than average die that is designed for versatility.
Spider-Man - Hero for Hire
For 5- you're getting a slightly stronger Black Canary - Dinah Laurel Lance that doesn't cost energy to activate. If he was a 4- purchase, this would be a slam dunk, no questions asked, great card. As it stands, he's still quite good and allows for a lot of effective strategies involving a single powerful death swing. The ability to stop a single character from blocking is useful, but it's even more useful when combined with either overcrush in order to squelch their big wall or in combination with the DC basic actions like Villainous Pact or Pick Your Battles in order to get a whole team of unblocked characters. Normally I'd recommend a version of Deadpool for this task because of his resilient nature and remarkable utility, but with Spider-Man the goal is to include him into your death swing, whereas Deadpool adds nothing to the affair. With that line of thinking, Spider-Man can justify his costs and stats and become a key part of any over-run strategy.
Spider-Man - Spider Sense
This Spider-Man brings us back to his 4-cost roots and gives us a handy ability in the current meta, the ability to mitigate damage from characters (looking at you, Green Goliath). Beyond that key counter, Spider-Man also allows you to stop a whole host of powerful overcrushing characters like Obelisk the Tormentor, Wolverine - The Best There Is, and even the lowly Blade Knight. If you can protect him from the Relentless global, you'll be able to completely shut down most Avengers teams since the Avengers rely heavily on their characters with Ant-Man, Falcon, all three Hulks, and even Black Widow being fists. However, with the rise of burn teams, Spider-Man is going to be a relatively dead card in a fair deal of matchups. It's never wise to blindly counter an archtype, so be careful about checking your local scene for the popularity of Hulk - Green Goliath. If Hulk isn't in vogue or if people are taking Jade Giant instead, you'd be best served with another character in this slot.
Spider-Man - Superhero
Here we reach the sad culmination of our look into the UXM versions of Spider-Man. Heroic has always been a mechanic that intrigues me, but there's very few ways to make it work. The best you can do is bring both characters and hope that you field them while the other is active and that your ability is useful enough to warrant the cost. The biggest issue the mechanic had was overpricing characters, followed up by not giving them any effects to fall back on. Spider-Man - Superhero is the epitome of these problems. He's so close to being viable that it hurts and I can only imagine what could have been if his purchasing cost was 1 lower. At that price he could have combo'd beautifully with Captain Aperica - Superhero and made an incredibly strong beatstick/removal tool against a wide variety of teams. As it stands, he's just to clunky to warrant a 5-energy investment and you'd best look elsewhere for your fix of Spidey-goodness.
Counterplay: The ever-present Lord of D. Ring is just as effective against the common and rare Spider-Man as he is against any targeted effects. As soon as the combo drops, your abilities are nearly worthless and you'd better hope your brought some sort of back-up. However, Spidersense is even easier to counter by a variety of teams since if you never attempt to do damage/block with a character, he's just a cheap character. To add to that, there's already a fair deal of hate out there to deal with Hulk, but it will just as easily catch Spider-Man in its net. If you want to counter Hero for Hire specifically, you can also build up a wall of characters that will allow you to soak up his effect and still have enough blockers to cope. If your opponent is running Villainous Pact alongside him, your best bet is to start fielding Villains if you brought them, action hate if you didn't, and to start rushing your opponent down as fast as you can if you don't even have that.
Spider-Man is an effective character for surviving against heavy teams and closing out a game depending upon his iteration. You'll find his statline to be quite nice and if you're bringing his 4-cost version, you'll be a step ahead of the curve while purchasing him. However, his effects are somewhat easy to avoid and that can make him a gamble to play with. If you want to use him to his fullest, you're going to need to doctor your strategy to which version you're taking. With Hero for Hire, you're going to want a lot of supporting blocker manipulation and some efficient characters to swing with in a single sweep. For Spidersense, you're bringing him as a faithful blocker, able to weather the storm of Black Widows, Ant-Men, overcrushers, and Hulks. He's built for absorbing damage, so he fits well as a cheap blocker for a burn/control setup and is much less central his teams strategy, consider him more of an ancillary pick to fill in a hole in your team should you spot such a weakness. I decided not to comment oh his uses within the UXM set because he doesn't really fill much of a role there. The blocker manipulation is nearly non-existant in UXM, meaning that Hero for Hire will be lacking support and Spidersense is only good for absorbing a few characters (Heroic doesn't deserve a mention).
Come Wednesday, I'll be taking a look at the cheaper and more diverse AvX iterations of Spider-Man before exhibiting a team built from the ground up to utilize him effectively on Friday. Spider-Man has a lot more to offer you than what was brought up this week, so stay tuned and have a good night everyone!