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Sub-Meta Musings

Off the Meta | Acceleration Booster Gold

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Hello and welcome back guys. It's the start of the week and that means it's time for Off the Meta and this week has both finishing our dedicated coverage of DC and also looking into one of, if not, the least meta characters we've every had the pleasure of looking into: Booster Gold!

Booster Gold is a wildcard character that I doubt very many people have ever given serious thought to. However, with the rise of ridiculous fielding costs and mediocre stats that have plagued the game for the past two sets, Booster Gold is starting to look a lot more competitive. We've seen with characters like Baron Zemo, that you don't need spectacular stats to make a big splash. His stats are the definition of mediocre, having a TFC-4 and middling stats to say the least. Effectively, he's an AvX Iron Man with less defense and effects that I've been quite ambivalent towards up until I really decided to push myself to see their uses. To that end I've decided the best way to summarize Booster Gold is by highlighting his focus on planning and foresight. From my limited knowledge of his character in the comics, this is incredibly apt and whenever I look into these characters, I always find myself impressed by how thematic WizKids made them and Booster Gold really is the epitome of this subtle art. He presents as a mediocre character who's high maintenance, but if you know what you're doing and can channel his deceptive and cunning nature, you could very well see some heavy returns on your investments.

Booster Gold - Michael Jon Carter
The only 3- Booster Gold, he's an interesting case... Given his statline, he'd be a decent vanilla character, but part of what's given Booster Gold his bad reputation up until this point is that all of his effect have drawbacks. This iteration's drawback is that he cannot attack while there is a villain active on the field. When this character first came out, he had a niche; he was a low-cost vanilla character with middling stats. However, with the advent of AoU, he was blown out of the water by Iron Man - Big Man who was a direct stat upgrade and held the valuable Avengers affiliation. For a while I didn't think there was ever a reason to use him in lieu of Iron Man, but quite recently all Avengers received a nerf in the way S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents were ruled. Now Booster Gold has a niche-ier niche in that he still fills the same roll as Iron Man -Big Man, but you only bring him if you're worried about S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents anti-Avenger control. That all said, his ability isn't as much of a handicap as you might expect. Coupled with any amount of control, he is rarely inhibited by his ability since attacking often isn't really a thing and you can even bring him alongside friendly villains if you couple him with any amount of self-knockouts like the popular BEWD or my personal favorite, Crush Card Virus. As such, against all but dedicated villain teams, his ability doesn't really hurt that badly and he has a niche to fill in the game as it currently exists. As far as theme is concerned, this is Booster Gold's alter ego, explaining why he's cheaper, but also why he's unable to act while villains can see him and risk exposing his hidden identity to his enemies.

Booster Gold - Glory-Seeking Showboat
Booster Gold's uncommon and higher both share the 4- purchasing cost that pits him directly against the old Iron Man in terms of efficiency. However, its their effects that are going to distinguish them, not their stats. This showboat allows you to add him to your roll at the start of any turn, essentially allowing you to treat the field as a bank for future rolls. This isn't a spectacular ability since his maximum energy output is 2 and he can cost that much energy to field in the first place, but having an extra injection of dice and energy at the right time can be absolutely essential to getting big characters out at important times. He's also a character, so having him in a PXG game can mean exchanging 1 die for 4 that you're not only rolling next turn, but also keeping out of your bag. Overall, he's a decent body in the field while offering you unmatched flexibility in controlling your dice and energy income in order to make bigger buys by stretching the investment out over time. I can't tell you how many games could have been won or lost by the ability to buy a 6-cost character at the right time or failing to roll enough energy to field a big 3-fielding cost character. When it comes to theme, this Booster Gold is incredible on two counts. When you use his ability and end up rolling a character to refield, he lives up to his name by making a big entrance and getting that rush of glory all over again. However, when he rolls energy, he's executing his long running plan and enabling complicated and overarching strategies. He knew this moment would come and he's ready to play his part in the grand scheme.

Booster Gold - High Publicity Hijinks
With a rarity stripe to match his theme, this Booster Gold is also the most interesting. He allows you to prep his die in order to reduce the purchasing cost of a single non-villain character for the rest of the turn. This is such an interesting prospect because it is 1 of only 3 triggered price reductions in the game that last until the end of the turn rather than until the next purchase (the others being Elf Wizard and Pit Fiend). Better yet, this can be applied to almost any character and can be applied more than once. That all said, this ability also has the downside of acting as a price reduction equal to or less than his own fielding cost. Thus, in order to make the most use of his ability, you need to be making multiple purchases with it. This means he's best used to purchase multiple 2-cost characters. There are currently only 3 1-cost characters in the game, 1 of which is useless and the other 2 see an incredible amount of play. Booster Gold allows you to change that number from 3 characters all the way up to 50 characters. Since 1-cost characters are so powerful, exploding the number of them available to you is an incredibly versatile ability and strongly relies on which 2-cost characters you're bringing to the table. He matches up best either with fellow mask characters so that you can streamline your energy investment or with bolt characters so that you can manufacture the energy you need to buy them with the Iceman global. In this way, you can always pick the best time to use his effect based upon which energy you've rolled that turn. Characters he works especially well with are Morphing Jar - All-Seeing Eye or Black Widow since they both fall within his mask purview and can be incredibly effective en masse. Thematically, I think he shares the strengths of his uncommon and expounds upon them. He's inspiring other to action with his grandiose display and is once again playing up his contribution while secretly manipulating the game from behind the scenes. He shows up to the game, but quietly shuffles off the board in order to get the real work done and bring the masses to his cause. I always enjoy WizKids' rares and this one is an absolute treat!

Booster Gold is a difficult character to counter since all of his version do different things. That said, they share a small unifying factor in that they all can be used for early aggression. To deal with that, it's best to wall up sufficiently and assess what to do from their. If your opponent is actually trying to build up to an early scary character like Beholder, it's time to make a choice: race them down that path to your own big bad or instead punish them for their overeach and try to turn your wall into an offensive push. If you can beat them up badly enough in the early game, you won't really need to worry about your own wall and can work to find that last bit of damage to finish them off. If things get late game, then you may struggle with keeping up against the acceleration that Booster Gold Provides, so make sure you have what it takes to outrace him if you can't switch to an early push fast enough. If instead Booster Gold is being put to use for an early rush-down strategy, then you should focus on walling up properly. If your opponent is spending all their resources on amassing a weenie army, chances are they won't be prepared for a macro game where you've stalled them long enough to pick up your win condition and fielding characters always has the added benefit of keeping them out of your bag and thus increasing your churn beyond the regular rates.

Booster Gold is full of surprises and I've been shocked by how my opinion of him has swung as time progressed. Not only is he capable of multiple strategies, but he's able to do it in style and with a focus on keeping the theme of his cards true to his character in a variety of clever and interesting ways. No matter what, Booster Gold offers you the option of early aggression and can always be used to pivot on a dime when the situation calls for it. This adaptability mimics his foresight in the comics and can be crucial in keeping your opponent on the back foot. He's best utilized in a team with multiple win conditions and can keep your opponent guessing until it's already too late. Despite his moderately high costs, he can swing the tempo of a game harder than most any other character and that agility is what can make him an incredible addition to a team. All told, Booster Gold is a delightfully right and thematic character who doesn't make for a one-man win condition, but rather enables new strategies that were previously impossible and gives you the ability to really control the pace of your own game. Finally, given his lackluster reputation, you're bound to catch your opponent off-guard when you bring him to the table, so seizing on that psychological advantage alone can be enough to eek a win out in an otherwise even match-up.

It never ceases to amaze me what sorts of downtrodden characters can find new purpose when looked at in just the right lighting and Booster Gold is a perfect example of that. He's also a beautifully thematic character and goes a long way towards showing just how much WizKids actually cares about the IP's they're building upon. I can only hope we'll see more characters like him in the future and I invite you to stick around till a bit later this week to see exactly how I intend to make the best use of this glory-hound in Make it Meta!
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  1. Razorback's Avatar
    I wonder if you've convinced @Dave ?
  2. ninjahonor's Avatar
    The interesting thing about Booster being one of three cost reductions until end of turn characters is he is the only mask while the other two are bolt characters. It's almost like he was designed to work with PXG or any other global that utilizes masks.