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In with the New | Doctor Strange Team Pack

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Slightly after getting the full spoilers, it's time once again to break down the newest set and see what we have in store. That's right, it's time to break open the Doctor Strange Team Pack, look critically at the characters within, and whether or not it's worthwhile to buy 2 packs in order to get a full play-set of 4 dice. Similarly to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles Box-Set, there will be no draft score or in-set score since there's not really enough to play with here and even new players won't really be ready to play since the team pack comes without Sidekicks, BAC's, and the other staples of full starter-sets. All cards will be introduced by name. If you'd like to follow along with a refresher as to their stats and effects, you can check The Reserve Pool Wiki or follow the list I used to compile this list on http://dm.retrobox.eu/.

WARNING: All scores are purely the impression of the cool guy writing this blog and do not necessarily reflect the views of the community. Some scores are going to be highly controversial, so keep in mind, I'm the guy who thinks PXG and Polymorph are poor includes on the majority of teams.

Before I begin, I'll be rating dice strictly for the unlimited format with the array of support and gimmick potential factoring into the scores.

All scores will be given on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 representing Vixen's common and 10 being Bard-tier. Without further ado, let's begin:





Ancient One 1 - 0.5 | Now that's a statline! It's hard to beat the Hulk of old, but here we really blow that out of the water. Not only do we see a 6/7/8 mirrored statline, but also with the gold-standard AvX Iron Man TFC-4. It's like if Balor got a buff. (Can we buff Balor? I want to bring Fiends to a competitive event...) However, stats can only get you so far and when you cost 7 to purchase and all you do is blind counter an affiliation with 5 characters in the entire game (so far), you're not going to really score that many points in my book. Luckily, there are 2 more of these guys to give me a good effect on top of my favorite statline to date (even if it is married to one of my least favorite purchase costs).

Ancient One 2 - 1.5 | I like tribalism a lot more than I like blind counters, especially when it's bringing protection instead of raw stats. Suddenly, your opponent's targeted effects are useless against this shiny golden god of a beatstick. Have you ever tried to get rid of an 8/8 without targeting it? It's not fun... In the end, this Ancient One is a super expensive boss monster for your Mystic gimmick team, but more than that and he's a waste of energy. The old wisdom that 7+ cost characters must win you the game still stands and that makes the Ancient One difficult to play.

Ancient One 3 - 1 | This ancient one brings along his Mystic loyalty voucher and discounts all your future purchases of Mystic characters. While Valor and Instinct may be feeling left out, they shouldn't get too down on themselves since a 7-cost character is not where you want to be getting your discounts. By the time you've bought, drawn, and fielded this behemoth, you should be looking to win the game, not stock up on even more characters. Even with a discount of 2, he only drops to a 5-cost purchase and the amount of characters he discounts is abysmal (though both Scarlet Witch and Wong can cost a single energy, so there could be some gimmick potential there). I could see you bringing this Ancient One to a 100 life game, but in a standard game you should either win when you field him or already be dead by that time; you should not be buying even more dice.



Clea 1 - 3.5 | Clea is an expensive character, make no bones about it and a far cry from the gloriously efficient stat stick that is the Ancient One. However, her effect is somewhat unique and very usable. She allows you to pay a bolt and deal 3 damage to any non-Mystic character provided you have her active. That kind of recurrent removal can be devastating in prolonged games as she tears down the opposing wall, or can be used in clutch plays by removing key combo pieces like Half-Elf Bard before your opponent has a chance to go off. However, we've actually seen this effect before and I'd argue in a better form. Loki - Loki Laufeyson effectively has the same ability, but he is cheaper, is not limited in targeting, deals only 2 less damage, and wipes the text from the damaged die. Completely clearing the text from a character is a good deal better than injuring it or knocking it out for a future turn on most occasions and since Loki almost never makes it to the table, I suspect Clea won't either.

Clea 2 - 2 | I'm a big fan of lowering costs, but Clea does it in a weird way. Not only is she affiliation locked into being played with her 4 supporting characters, but she reduces fielding costs. This is arguably an advantage since you should be focusing on playing and fighting with the inexpensive Mystic characters, but since they're really not built to be dying very often, it's difficult to really leverage this ability. Additionally, all the energy you save over the course of a game should very rarely add up to the energy you paid into Clea in the first place, putting her in a similar position to the cost reducing Ancient One: she'd be good in a grueling 100 life game, but competitively speaking she's a wash.

Clea 3 - 0.5 | While the cost going up to match the Ancient One is a black mark against her, I can't write her off as Vixen-Tier for one big reason: she's a Villain now. She's split from the extremely limiting confines of the Mystic affiliation and joined up with a proper affiliation and benefits from all the years support and gimmicks that Villains have access to. None of that is enough to excuse her for being a 7-cost character with a TFC-6 and a "when fielded" ability to go with it, but it's nice to think about how you can run her alongside the OP Ultron as an end-game villain with a fielding KO, but with max: 4 dice.



Doctor Strange 1 - 1 | Clea had some consistent offenses to back up her high costs, Doctor Strange does not. Add to that he's a 6-cost character that reduces the cost of your future purchases, and he sinks even lower in the ratings. The redeeming feature here is that you don't have to commit to the Mystic affiliation, but that doesn't account for much when you look at how many other ways there are to reduce the price of action dice are already easily available in the game. [Mandatory disclaimer about Ant-Man global shenanigans due to high defenses.]

Doctor Strange 2 - 0.5 | Having a higher cost is one thing, swapping the discount effect for lifegain is another, but tacking on a wonky trigger to make it that much harder to proc is the final straw. This Doctor Strange is just bad and while there is a use for him due to his natural synergy with Vicious Struggle, I doubt anyone is masochistic enough to try and fit this Doctor Strange on their team just for that one dubious synergy.

Doctor Strange 3 - 1 | I still hate the purchase costs and stats, but I can't deny that this is a usable effect. This allows you to really lay into your opponent in a Vicious Struggle match, bring Betrayal without as much fear of reprisal, and generally play more aggressive actions since you have some protection from their damage. Everything prior to this sentence is rendered moot by the existence of Captain America - Super Soldier. He prevents all but 1 damage to your from ANY non-combat source of damage, costs 4, and is a great fist beater. Doctor Strange can't compete with any of that, so he's pretty much only useful for Mystic team play.



Dormammu 1 - 1 | This pack really wants me to like its stats. The one attack Dormammu loses to AvX Hulk's level 1 face is more than made up for by the level 3 face's lower fielding cost, marking a second "better than Hulk" boss monster for the Doctor Strange Pack. Sadly, this one weighs in at a purchase cost of 7 and only inconveniences your opponent if they want to buy action dice at that point in the game. In a competitive arena, you really should have bought all the action dice you need by the time your opponent starts laying 7-drops on the board, making Dormammu difficult to advocate for.

Dormammu 2 - 0.25 | Now instead of paying more to purchase actions, your opponents are now prepping a sidekick or thanking you for starting their Vicious Struggle burn for them. In either case, you're helping more than you're hurting and at a whopping 7-cost, Dormammu is really making me hate that I love his stats.

Dormammu 3 - 7.5 | Hallelujah! Our first 6-cost Dormammu also packs the strongest effect in the pack so far, redemption is at hand! Flat out, if your opponent has 3+ characters active, they can't use action dice. That means no Vicious Struggle, no Prismatic Spray, no Polymorph, no nothing! The only way to remove this bad boy is with character effects or damage and neither of those is going to be easy. Mask Raven can make him completely untargetable and at that point, it's going to be a nightmare to deal with. The alternative way around him is to get your field destroyed and use your actions before fielding the characters your roll next turn, but a keen opponent can usually prevent this and keep Dormammu locking you out from some of the most powerful effects in the game. I like to think of this as an evolution on Jinzo and in combination with Oracle, he can create a very annoying mask-based lockdown for your opponent to struggle against.



Eye of Agamotto 1 - 0.5 | This is a weird effect. It's essentially the first Dormammu, but only for a single BAC as opposed to all actions. This can be nice to hoard all of a specific BAC to yourself or to force your opponent to pay a bit extra to pick up their key BAC dice, but buying this die is setting you back just as far as it can possibly set back your opponent and also clutters your bag before you get to play it, making it a very poor idea against almost all circumstances.

Eye of Agamotto 2 - 4 | The global is interesting and the actual effect isn't terrible, so it gets a decent rating. Getting to place dice directly into the bag is already fantastic, but being able to do so for a generic energy is even better. If only this could work like the up and coming CBG and put the die into your prep area, that'd be the dream (and not power creepy since it's for action dice only). The effect of the die itself is still pretty poor, but has much more potential that the original Eye of Agamotto. Damaging your opponent each time they use a specific BAC can be quite painful, especially against action dice you buy early and use throughout the game like Polymorph or Powerbolt. Your opponent can play around this by rolling for energy, but if they do, you've influenced their play enough for the Eye of Agamotto to have justified its cost.

Eye of Agamotto 3 - 7 | Same global, cheaper cost, better effect, that's what I'm talking about! This time, you are intended to play the Eye of Agamotto on the BAC's you buy. Whenever you use that BAC, your entire field gets +1A. This doubles the offensive value of every Blessing or Heroic Defense you use and can make for some Bard-Tier sidekick swarms if you play your dice right. Combine with Cloudkill to make your board-swing hurt that much more. Provided you're using BAC's as part of your win condition, this is a 3-cost action that reads: "when you land your combo, make it even better." Just keep in mind that you're showing your opponent your strategy and if they buy those BAC dice away before you purchase your fill, you won't be getting as much value as you can out of the Eye of Agamotto (though again, forcing your opponent to play differently is to your advantage). Consider using the global to purchase and speed up your combo once you place the Eye of Agamotto on your BAC of choice.



Mindless Ones 1 - 8.5 | "Stats and combo potential out the wazoo!" is what comes to mind when I look at this card. Not only does it emulate the statline of my long-forgotten love, AvX Hawkeye, but he does it with a fist typing, Villain affiliation, and a 2-cost purchase. Their "downside" is that they also deal you 1 damage when you field them, but that can be dealt with or even welcomed if you build properly. They're fists, so they fit into fist tribalism with Iron Fist and can have their damage absorbed by a Fabricated Clay Golem. They can be combined with my favorite Cap, Captain America - The First Avenger, to effectively ignore their effect and boost Cap's level (and he's also a fist). You could instead go with Vicious Struggle and Captain America - Man out of Time for a massive damage setup that matches up well against opposing VS teams. Throw them in a a Hulk and you have a free trigger to wipe the opposing board whenever you field one of these beaters (and more fist tribalism). Their villainous affiliation, low cost, and low defenses also make them perfect for a Retaliation team that wants max: 4 instead of Foot Ninja's max: 3. They make incredible beatsticks if you combine them with Doctor Doom to nerf your opponent's characters and keep sidekicks from KO'ing or just stalling them in their work. Best of all, they fit right into a Vicious Struggle blitz team since they provide the fist energy that Luke Cage's global relies on while still dealing damage and being super offensive if you only roll character faces. The possibilities are as limited as your imagination (for instance, they counter the OP Iron Fist since their effect damage is reduced to 0 and they have combat stats rather than effect damage to fall back on).

Mindless Ones 2 - 6.5 | The change to how regenerate works really hurt the potential of this card... Not only would have been the perfect character to run with Black Manta, but its low defenses would have given it added utility as tech against Cloudkill since a regenerated Mindless One wouldn't have to pay energy to block. Sadly, none of that is the case and it ends up being just another hyper-aggressive fist character with some potential to stick to the board. Strangely enough, I value the rare AvX Hawkeye's Fast more than I do regenerate since Fast allows you to survive most of the time and influences how your opponent blocks while regenerate is random and can be relied upon by your or your opponent. I still think there's potential for a decent Doctor Doom gimmick, though, since sidekicks are the bane of Mindless Ones and opposing characters with lowered stats are their perfect mark

Mindless Ones 3 - 5.5 | Aggro Swarm? Is that a thing yet? Judging by the reception of the Goblin I don't think it is, especially when you remove the gimmick potential of Gear from the equation. Don't get me wrong, the more fist Swarmers I see, the closer I get to running a literal Field Swarm team with my favorite OG character, Black Luster Soldier, at the head, but I don't think the meta is really ready for that yet. Consider running this if you liked the idea of Goblins, but felt they didn't deal enough damage to be worth it.



Scarlet Witch 1 - 8.5? | Before I begin, I'm working under the premise that you keep the action die if it rolls energy. Good god is this thing strong! Vicious Struggle teams are having a hard time focusing on not drooling as she's everything they want: acceleration, a blocker, and self damage. Beyond that, the ability to say "I get to search my bag for any action die I want, now" whenever you field her is incredible on so many other teams as well. I could see this making Villain Teamwork teams a thing and-- wait... She's not a Villain? Scratch that Villain Teamwork thing, she got stuck with one of the worst affiliations to date. Still, combined with the Parallax and Eye of Agamotto globals and she can spring pretty much any action in the game on your opponent, practically without telegraphing. Your opponent's will catch on in time, but if you run a toolbox of 3+ actions, you can stay unpredictable and reactive no matter what. Even when she fails to roll you your action face, you've just paid 2 life for 2 energy, that's a fantastic deal that I'll take 9 times out of 10! Being chance based hurts, but the potential to call in any of your action dice at a moment's notice is just too great to overlook. Combined with BEWD and you've got a great character that practically pays for herself. If I don't see you guys abuse this card in absolutely sickening ways, I will be very disappointed...

Scarlet Witch 2 - 7 | You remember Baron Zemo's rare from AoU? It's basically obsolete now due to having the same purchase cost and effect as this guaranteed pull card with a massively higher fielding cost. Unless you really need another active Villain, in which case stick with Zemo (Curse you, Mystic affiliation!). Alternatively, use the first Scarlet Witch alongside the old Zemo in order to call in your action dice from the bag and energy juggle them forever.

Scarlet Witch 3 - 2.5 | Mediocre lifegain when you play actions? I'm not convinced. This is too little, too late to stack up to her previous versions in the pack, though I will say if you're working with a budget I'd consider running her alongside the 2-cost Mindless Ones.



Wong 1 - 7.5 | An Ally that can fight? And has Fast? And he isn't overcost? This breaks so many of WizKids unwritten rules that I don't really know what to say... Wong even edges out AvX Hawkeye as my favorite Fast character thanks to his lower purchase cost. There's really nothing not to love about this guy other than he dies to anti-sidekick tech, which even in Bard's prime isn't a big issue. This cheap fist character definitely makes a name for himself as the go-to 2-cost statstick for teams that also want to work in utility to their low-cost combat character. Alternatively, you would do very well to run this on a Flying Sidekick team as one more benefactor from your sidekick boosts and as a goalie-type character who can deal with big threats while you're setting up. Suffice to say I really like this Wong.

Wong 2 - 2.5 | What's Wong with you? You cost more, you're no longer Fast... You're still an Ally, but you've turned against your sidekick brothers. This was a weird change of pace from the first Wong and loses a lot of value. In most circumstances, sidekicks in the field are basically worth 1 damage to the opponent and it's very easy to convert 1 energy into 1 damage. Wong defies this dynamic by combining 1 sidekick and 1 energy into 1 damage. Those of you gifted in math may realize that's horribly inefficient and that's exactly right. However, Wong does shine on burn teams where your opponent has walled better than you have swarmed and you don't have time to finish burning them the old fashioned way. Basically, he's a last resort panic button to try and push you over the edge of burn and considering you have to buy him first, that majorly hurts his utility. The best application I can see for him is to turn your Human Torch sidekick fodder into damage in a last ditch push. He earns his rating almost on strength of stats alone.

Wong 3 - 5.5 | See, Wong? All you had to do is embrace the Ally within you and you're returning to grace. Living in harmony with his fellow sidekicks is exactly what Wong wants to do and this one does it very well indeed. Not only does he buff the entire field of sidekicks, but he also benefits from other sidekick buffs if you're building that way. This makes him the consummate auto-include for Flying Sidekicks (in a non-Bard world) and if/when an Ally based team becomes gimmickable, Wong is sure to be at the head. On their own, sidekick buffs are useful, but giving them to sidekicks, by sidekicks, for sidekick? Count me in. (This all said, it's been mentioned to me that Wong also buffs opposing sidekicks. Any card that helps your opponent is hard for me to recommend, so he's best use alongside strong one-sided AoE or anti-sidekick abilities to help mitigate that downside.)





That's all there is for the Doctor Strange Team Pack review. I rather like this pack and some of the characters within. It feels like WizKids is trying to creep its way back into making cards around the power level of AvX rares without blowing the doors wide open like they did with Bard and I like the middle ground they've struck here. Most of the characters in this pack have at least one strong version and this opens the doors to a variety of gimmicks and potential combo's which is always exciting to me. Finally, I'd say that it's definitely worth buying a second pack in order to get max dice on all of the characters that cost 4 or less. The expensive characters and the Eye of Agamotto will almost never need 3+ dice, but the cheaper characters all seem to benefit from more of themselves, so take that into consideration when deciding how much to invest.

I'm always interested in second opinions on my ratings and ideas for how to use characters that I hadn't considered, so join in the comments below to get your voices heard. Any and all feedback is welcome and if you have an issue with my list, remember, it's not written in stone, but I do think it's important for the community to have a general idea of scale when looking into how characters break down and I enjoy filling that niche.

Thank you all for following along and as always, have a nice day!

Updated 09-14-2016 at 10:23 PM by Necromanticer

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Comments

  1. hwetzel's Avatar
    I'm looking forward to see how Wong gets used.
  2. pk2317's Avatar
    As always, a very solid review!
  3. Razorback's Avatar
    Enjoyed the review! High cost characters aren't good for high level competitive play, but I always have at least one 6+ cost character for my casual teams. Looking forward to seeing what I can do with these.
  4. Jwannabe's Avatar
    Thanks for the write up once again!
  5. Axyz's Avatar
    For Clea #2 (While Clea is active, your other [img]MYSTICS[/img] character dice cost less to field to a minimum of 1.), the way it's worded makes it seem like she can't reduce her own fielding cost. Is that so? If so, then she is probably the worst card in the set. She can't reduce fielding cost to lower than 1, most of them are either 0, 1, or 2.