Off the Meta | Nightcrawler Doesn't Use a Camera
by, 07-21-2015 at 12:50 AM (1489 Views)
Hello and welcome everybody, I'm back for another week of Off the Meta after taking a break to look into and enjoy the new set's release. This week brings us to have one last nostalgic look into the past with Nightcrawler all the way back from the first released set, AvX. From this week forward, I'll be looking deeply into DC for old characters that never got a fair shake and I may post an article or two on how AoU shaped up/how it fits in the meta.
Nightcrawler is all about his blockers, deciding who they can be and what happens to them before/after combat. With a defensively focused statline, that's a bit of a strange choice from a design perspective, but his fist nature allows you to combo him with Ant-Man's global, or at least make sure he survives his aggressive antics. As a middling aggression option, you need to make sure you've got the combat tricks that are going to make Nightcrawler work because as it stands, his stats and effects don't really justify his costs. He's a 4+ purchase with a relatively high TFC-4 and paltry stats. His only semi-respectable face is his level 3 at a 5/6 and even then, you're paying 2 to field him. Despite all that, there's a good reason I feel he deserves this week's spotlight as you'll find later on.
Nigthcralwer - Fuzzy Elf
The most common and comedicly named version of Nigthcrawler, he also doubles as the most expensive. For a hefty 5- purchase, you're getting a defensive die that cannot be blocked by non- characters. This is a powerful ability that can allow him to sneak past the heftiest of walls for a quick strike at an exposed flank. Ant-Man's global is going to heavily improve his damage output, but for a 5-cost, he's going to take a while to setup. You may be better off going with a sure thing such as Namor, but if you've got the extra fists from Kobolds or want to wall up strongly, Nightcrawler may just be the character you're looking for. :masks: have fallen out of the meta for fielding characters, but you can still run into someone playing Beast, Zatanna, or the new Giant-Man. Zombie Gladiator teams will also put Nightcrawler to shame, so consider what options you have for sweeping a few extra characters out of the way if you want to bring this one. The rare Daredevil works wonders for clearing away pesky characters and they're both fists, so you may well find a winning combo with these two characters.
Nightcrawler - Abandoned
The uncommon Nightcrawler introduces us to a very reasonable price at a 4- purchase and also starts making things interesting. After damage is dealt, he gets to knock out one character that blocked him. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about him, though. While there's a bunch of utility to this ability, it is almost a 100% downgrade from the rare's ability which allows you to do the same, but before you deal damage or get to activate globals. The only time I would pick the uncommon Nightcrawler over the rare is if I wanted to lure my opponent into using up his energy on the Nightcrawler engagement instead of elsewhere, which is a somewhat muddled strategy that relies on your opponent to make bad decisions, never a good idea.
Nightcrawler - Circus Freak
Here we are at last. Hands down the strongest version, he shares the 4- purchase with the uncommon, but adds the utility of speed to the mix. This ability to knock out a character blocking him before damage or globals are assigned is an incredible feat and can make him a thorn in your opponent's side. He's effectively the Ultron Drone 2.0 with his ability to remove a blocker to the prep area instead of returning it to the field afterwards. Better yet, this opens the door to many combat tricks, but none so appealing as Gelatinous Cube. With Cube on the field, the ability to knock out any blocking character you choose puts your opponent in a precarious position of needing to be very choosy with how they block. You can exacerbate this decision making process by adding overcrush dice like Hulk Out and the offensive capabilities of the Ant-Man global into the mix or use the Goblin Attack Force global to force your opponent's hand and feed the cube. Like a 'fork' in Chess, Nightcrawler sets up lose-lose situations for your opponent and can make them regret paying 6-energy for a Hulk that's sitting suspended in a Master Ooze. Since the ability triggers before globals, you always have the option to bring Distraction along for the ride and make certain Nightcrawler stays on the field through thick and thin, but considering his natural removal, that may be overkill.
Nightcrawler may be powerful with combat tricks to back him up, but if you take those away, he falls apart. You best bet is to bring a decent amount of protection to the table in order to keep him from running away with your field. Human Paladin works for making sure you can't be pushed into unfavorable blocks with the Ultron ensemble or Gonblin Attack Force global, but still leaves the door open for overcrush and Ant-Man plays. Ring of Magnetsim will keep those out of your opponent's reach, but still gives your opponent a target to pull out of position, causing you to lose the protection before action dice and globals are played out. The best answer combines these options, the infamous Lord of D. Ring. This will make sure you never have to give up your key character to Nightcrawler's wiles and that your protection is going to be a stable long-term investment. Another thing to consider is that Nightcrawler partially counters himself. In order to make him worthwhile, you need to bring 2 or 3 other cards to the table, eating a chunk out of your slots and reducing your flexibility if your opponent brings something out that demands a different response. If you're truly clever, you can also use the Relentless global to keep your characters from being dragged away to the Oozey prison by a team of Goblin enforcers. Since Nightcrawler relies on being blocked by specific targets, shielding yourself from that ability can pay dividends over the course of a game, particularly on key characters like Human Torch.
Nightcrawler is a tricky character that relies on a strong supporting cast of fellow fists (and and Ooze) to reach his potential. His ability to act as free removal whenever he attacks is quite valuable and comes at a reasonable bargain. His best feature is his timing, activating in the attack step before globals can respond and before any damage is dealt to either side. This makes him very valuable against sensitive targets like Hulk or the new hotness, Jocasta, since he never even lays a finger on the less than jolly green-giant or the Janet wannabe. With the right rolls and protection, Nightcrawler is capable of pummeling through your your opponent's board with little that can stand in his way. Even unconventional forms of overcrush mitigation such as Zombie - Greater Undead fail to stop him since he can remove them without damage being dealt. While he functions similarly to the common Ultron Drone, his more permanent removal of his blockers and the superior stats he brings to the table push him over the top. Nightcrawler is one quality character that fits into combo/control teams like a dream and is always willing to soak up the extra fists that Kobolds provide.
I'm always happy to find an overlooked character that really works with newer characters and Nightcrawler's rare is a textbook case for it. With Justice League opening up, I've got a lot of digging to do, but I'm certain that there's some things that have escaped the eyes of the public til now.