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Off the Meta | Harley Quinn Can Win

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Hello and welcome back one and all, for our first dip into the only DC set of our day, Justice League. This week we're looking at everyone's favorite fanatical femme fatale: Harley Quinn! AoU has been a real treat to play with and between actually playing the game and getting sucked into a variety of projects, I've been MIA for a bit on TRP, but hopefully all should be back to normal going forward.

Harley Quinn, the crazy Damsel that she is, doesn't have a single set of connected mechanics. Each of her effects is quite starkly different, so we can only really judge her overall by stats, costs, and affiliations. With that in mind, her stats are not quite what I'd like to see for her 3+ costs, especially considering that she's a proxy of Scarlet Witch with triple the TFC, even going so far as to mimic the villain affiliation that Scarlet Witch usually has. In order for her to be worth your time, you need to be using her effect better than you could use Scarlet Witch, and I wouldn't be writing about her if I didn't think it could be done. The only semi-consistent thing to be said for Harley is that she can be a powerful way to get villainous combat damage onto your opponent to unlock the SR Thanos as a game ender. The last thing to note is that she's a , meaning she pays for most of the more powerful globals available and can do good work alongside Gladiator, provided you don't get blind countered by Daredevil (pun intended).

Harley Quinn - Dr. Harleen Quinzel
At her cheapest, Harley Quinn is a 3- purchase and does one thing, and one thing only. She makes Joker work. She heavily cuts down his all of his costs, allowing you to really get your money's worth from the clever clown. However, she provides no other utility, meaning that without Joker, she's an explicitly worse version of Scarlet Witch with a different energy typing. With that in mind, all of her utility is going to be based on how much mileage you can get out of the Joker himself. If you're going with the common Joker, you can throw in the Ant-Man global in order to get a 4-6 unblockable (by most) attacker with 3-cost and TFC-1. This can be incredible value, but it doe rely on your opponent not playing villains, though Relentless can help against villain splashes. The uncommon Joker is actually a poor fit with Harley since she's built around getting multiple Jokers for cheap. If you're just using her as a cost reduction on the anti-fielding effect that Loki - Gemkeeper and Lex Luthor - Billionaire Industrialist compete for, she's going to end up being too slow to measure up, especially since they're taking up two slots to do the same job with the caveat that putting two cheap and unique villains on the field can be a big plus for Black Manta retaliation teams. Finally, there's the Clown Prince of Crime himself. This Joker allows you to clear out pretty much any affiliation based team with minimal effort. However, this falls into the same line as before, where you only really need one Joker for this effect to work out. The combo has gotten better with the rise of AoU giving us a lot of heavy Avenger based teams and it already worked well against the villain meta of DC, but it's as much an anti-synergy as it is a synergy since you don't want multiple jokers.

Harley Quinn - Femme Fatale
The beginning of the 4-cost Harley's, the uncommon Femme Fatale is able to go unblocked until your opponent blocks all other characters. This should immediately catch the attention of anyone looking to get out the SR Thanos by way of villain combat damage. Against an opponent who isn't walling up properly, you're going to be able to sneak blow after blow in with Harley and each one makes Thanos that much easier to purchase. Additionally, this Harley also combos with the common Joker, allowing them to sneak in together if your opponent doesn't have any villains fielded (or with relentless on them), allowing you to reduce Thanos' cost by a whopping 4 energy. Two swings like that and Thanos is ready to play for cheap. However, at a 4-cost character, you're not going to be buying many of her and her fielding cost directly correlates to how useful her attack will be in the first place. Further, she forces you to neglect your own wall if you want to get damage in, necessitating you use at least one more character than your opponent has fielded if you want to get her through. That all said, these stipulations only apply if you purchase her in the first place. One of the best ways you can use this Harley is to play mind-games with your opponent and force them to dedicate extra resources to the defensive while you ignore Harley and build towards your win condition. If your team has extra slots available, bring her to the table and see if you can let slip how great an unblockable villain is. It's not guaranteed to work, but if your opponent decides to dedicate a single extra die to defense and set back their own win condition, she's payed for herself without costing a single energy. Dice Masters is a game about resource management, and your character slots are a resource that you may be under-utilizing, so see if you have any junk slots and consider Harley Quinn for the psychological advantage.

Harley Quinn - Psychopathic Psychiatrist
The rarest and most interesting Harley, she forces both players to KO a sidekick upon being fielded and her sole level 1 burst face causes her to deal 1 damage to your opponent the first time one of your sidekicks dies on your own turn. This adds an element of burn to the standard BEWD hotness and can make the difference in a game. This also works as an equalizing factor if your opponent brings out the rare Wasp which has been widely touted as baby Jinzo, turning BEWD into a weaker version of Zombie Electro instead of a weaker version of Silver Surfer. She does get hard countered by the new Captain America, as well, but any source of burn is equally hurt, so you have to weigh that when building for the current meta. Overall, I love this character, but I think it is just a bit too difficult to use since it requires a burst on a single face to be value. Incidental damage has always been good, but with the rise of Captain America, it's getting weaker, and having a character that needs to be on a certain face to do 1 damage max, a turn, and only when you get a sidekick knocked out, is just too much to ask. I feel she had a spot in the Polymorph and BEWD heavy meta of last month, but nowadays, she's too costly to make useful and with a direct counter, she's in a bad place in the current meta.

This is a bit of a tricky section since there are three very distinct strategies in play with Harley, because of this, I'll be talking more about general villain counters and ways to play against SR Thanos specifically. First and foremost, two easy and global counters come to mind: Magneto to outright remove her to the used pile 50% of the time, and the "gain the villain affiliation" global since it's such a powerful counter to the common Joker who is a key part of many Harley strategies. Both can meddle with your opponent's Harley and have utility outside of countering her. However, they are a very bad idea to use in conjunction... If you're bringing Magneto, you want to either be using no villains, or only cheap and easy to field villains like Green Goblin or Scarlet Witch, but if you bring the "gain the villain affiliation" to the table, that opens up your important/heavy character for removal. Another way to go is to build a field-swarm team. Extra blockers are going to make sure that your opponent won't be sneaking the uncommon Harley through your field and Black Manta David is a cheap option that fits into a lot of teams in order to keep the Joker combo off of you while also dealing incidental burn. Finally, Harley isn't actually cheap to field and has a constantly low 3-defense, meaning that she's quite vulnerable to removal either by pure knockout or damage. Taking her out with any measure of consistency is going to really hurt your opponent's energy and put you ahead.

Harley Quin is built for aggression, but in a different way than most early characters. Instead of hitting fast and hard, she's about building up and enabling heavy hitters. She has a definite synergy with the Joker as you would expect, and together, they can be a powerful force for gaining Infinity Counters for the SR Thanos. That kind of game ending potential on a 1-cost character will put your opponent in the ground 9 times out of 10 if you get the opportunity, just be careful of dedicating to the long game if your opponent is bringing their own aggression. Additionally, you can bring along a slew of good mask globals that can synergize with Harley such as Relentless for the opportunity to go through unblocked, or Villainous Pact since you're guaranteed to have a villain defensive force already at hand. The pitfall Harley falls into is that her effects are her main utility. Her stats and costs are an explicitly weaker version of Scarlet Witch, so if you're not getting enough usage out of her abilities, you're going to be better suited with Scarlet Witch, plain and simple. Make sure to play to Harley's strengths, and you're going to drive your opponent crazy.

That wraps us up for this week. After a ton of scouring, it's become clear to me that DC is full of characters that aren't nearly as under-utilized as the other sets have. I'll definitely have a few more DC-only installments of Off the Meta, but after that, we'll be returning to a wider spread once more.
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