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Rocketing to the Top: A Virtual Worlds Blog

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Hello everyone,

As you can probably tell, I'm not a very regular blogger. I've done most of my team discussions on TRP's "What Have You Played" thread. There's good, bad, and weird teams, shared by multiple players. If you're curious, you can check that thread here:

This one today, though, requires a deeper delve into team-building. This is the team I built for the Virtual Worlds Tournament, Part Deux. It served me very, very well. There's lots to explain here, and lots to learn.

The core I built from was as follows:

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The way the combo works: Rocket Raccoon deals 1 damage to each player. Cosmic Cube increases the damage to 3. Vicious Struggle triggers to damage my opponent. Cosmic Cube increases Vicious Struggle's damage to 5.

So in short, I take 3 damage, my opponent takes 8 (3 from Raccoon, 5 from Struggle). And that's with 1 Raccoon. I put a second Raccoon on the table, that's 16 damage to my opponent, before even considering combat damage.

It leads to fast, large amounts of damage. It can win very, very quickly.

What should I use this with? Well, with my core having such low costs, my other BAC was an easy choice:

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Use Big Entrance, buy the combo, set up a big swing. Pretty straightforward.

What next, then? Control. I went for 3 control pieces in my original build:

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Shriek is there as a "blanker". For the uninitiated, this means a card who serves to ignore the text of a potential threat. They're a very important, and often essential, part of competitive teams.

I believe that a competitive team should have a blanker, and an "anti-Shriek", namely a way to deal with an opposing blanker. The Collector does this job; it was ruled, before the tournament, that he could be used to field opposing characters (Wizkids' rules team later confirmed this). I can thus field an opposing Shriek to blank their blanker. He also serves as fun utility, as he gives you what you want, when you want it. I could even steal an opposing win condition to use it for myself. He can just do so much.

Oracle was intended to slow down global-based teams, especially King Black Bolt, whom I saw as one of the teams that could reliably outpace me.

So with 3 slots left, I saw three important needs:
-Secondary win condition (needed in case my main win condition's shut down)
-Ramp (Big Entrance only ramps on the turn it's set up; I need something in the meantime)

First, the secondary win condition. For my initial build, I made the following choice:

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Seemed like a logical choice at the time. I have a lot of bolt characters already. Collector can field him for 1 energy and deal a fair amount of burn damage.

For ramp and consistency, three things need to be adressed:
-How do I get my combo pieces when I want them?
-How do I roll bolts consistently enough to get all the pieces I need?
-How do I reliably get the energy for Collector when I need him?

A tall order for sure. I went for these two:
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Chalkboard's great if I know I just miss one piece of the combo. Prepping a die allows me to have the energy to buy Collector. Merlyn allows me to keep a sidekick on the field, save it to get energy later. Another fantastic method to get the energy for Collector. Not to mention that I can get bolts much more reliably thanks to Merlyn. If I roll Big Entrance, I can purchase multiple dice much easier this way. Plus, Merlyn's generally unblockable. Fielding a Merlyn with Collector for 3 is a great way to get some damage in if everything else fails.

Now, this tournament allowed players a 4-card sideboard, with a chance to change cards between weeks. We'd been advised there would be some chance to put in cards from the (then upcoming) x-men set at some point.

My sideboard was as follows: (Not including the images since I didn't use most of them)
-Parallax: Fear (I knew Scarlet Witch: Careful What You Wish For was coming, and I wanted a counter)
-Storm: Extra Lightning (if my combo didn't work, I wanted a different approach, and Storm-Cube seemed like a logical strategy)
-Two-Face's Coin: 50/50 (to support Storm-Cube if I decided to go that route)
-Scarlet Witch: No More Mutants (to remind me to swap in Scarlet Witch once the new set came out)

With everything set up, I was ready for the tournament.

My first match was against @Yort 's Infiltrate team. It had my worst nightmare: Wonder Woman. Since she shuts down both of my main win conditions as well as Shriek, I have few tools left if she hits the board before I can blank her with Shriek. Game 1, I used Shriek, managed to shut down Wonder Woman, which would've helped me reach my win condition. But he played his hand quite smartly. He used Blink-Transmutation's action, on top of Infiltrate, to burn me down. He won. And on game 2, he managed to shut me down. I tried using Merlyn (and I even fielded his own Angela while I had Cosmic Cube active to use Infiltrate myself), but he simply outpaced me. He won 2-0.

Round 2 was against Russell Love (aka the KO King), and his Rarecrow control/Infiltrate team. Between rounds, I made a change I should've done from the start: Firefly was out, and Storm came in.

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She's simply much more versatile than Firefly and much harder to shut down; not only can she damage characters (and thus get rid of an opposing Shriek if need be), she can win the game all on her own even if Wonder Woman hits the field. I knew I had to do this change the second after Round 1 ended, and I never looked back.

She quickly became useful in Round 2: My opponent had rare Cold Gun, which could be used to stop my Rockets. Now that I had Storm, though, despite him using some clever tricks, my team simply dealt too much damage, too quickly. I won 2-0. However, it felt inefficient. I'd set up control before going for the win condition, and it didn't feel right.

Between rounds 2 and 3, we got to switch in X-men cards. At that point, I decided that Oracle had to go, as she was the only card on the team I wasn't using reliably. I had to make a choice: Add Scarlet Witch, and disrupt my opponent? Or add Parallax, and defend myself against Scarlet Witch?

Something clicked in my head. I finally understood something about my team: In almost every situation, I'm the aggressor. I'm the one to be defended against. In most situations, I shouldn't be setting up control, and I shouldn't try to shut my opponent down. Control serves one role in my team, and one role only: to mess up my opponent's plans long enough for my own to come to fruition. And Scarlet Witch does that beautifully, so I should rely on her for control a lot more than Collector, and only use Collector when needed. So Oracle out, Scarlet Witch in.

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This was the last change I did all tournament, and here's what the final team looks like:

On to week 3: I was up against Michael Ingledue's King Black Bolt team (of course; right after I take out Oracle, I have to deal with KBB...). Even with Oracle out of my team, though, by having Scarlet Witch + Shriek, with Collector on top, my team simply had too much disruption for him to set up his win condition. I dealt some damage both from Rocket-Struggle and from Storm-Cube. (with Rocket being the jackhammer to finish things off, if I recall) He tried setting up common Connor Kent for aggro as a secondary win condition, but I simply outpaced him. I won 2-0.

Week 4, I was up against TRP's own @memmek2k and her Vicious Struggle team. She relied on Luke Cage's global, with Cube and Struggle, to deal her damage. She doesn't keep many characters on her field. In fact, she used Bane to get control pieces off the field. A powerful build to be sure. My strategy was simple: use Shriek on Bane, set up Scarlet Witch to make her action dice extremely unreliable. So I did, and won game 1 even though she bought 5 (!) Vicious Struggle dice. On game 2, she realized that her typical strategy wouldn't work, so she used her rare Grodd as a sledgehammer to try to run me down. It was a good play, but in the end, I simply ended up dealing damage faster. I won 2-0.

Side-note: That game taught me a lot about several useful globals. Seeing her use Star Labs, Bane, Luke Cage served me very well in another match later on.

Week 5, I was up against @jacquesblondes and his Ultraman team. He wrote about the match in his own blog post, which is a fantastic read that you can find here (with a video of the game as well):

In short: Scarlet Witch earned her keep and then some, and I won.

After 5 rounds, there was a top 16 cut. The tournament then went to single-elimination rounds.

My top 16 round was against @jacquesblondes again. He gave me quite a close shave (I won game 1, he won game 2), but I won game 3 thanks to Scarlet Witch and a really, really lucky roll that allowed me to deal 20 damage with 1 Rocket (powered by 3 Cubes and 1 Struggle).

On to the top 8. I was up against @jourdo and his Collector Control team. As we were the only two Canadians in the tournament, we dubbed this the "Canadian Championship", and eventually, the "Timmy's Cup". He and I had been chatting a lot about our matches, so we knew each other's teams very, very well.

In theory, this team is my worst nightmare. It has 2 blankers (Dwiz and Shriek), plus another action that serves to blank characters (Kryptonite). It also has Bishop, which shuts down most of my sources of damage, Madame Masque to shut down my Shriek and stop me from using Collector to use his win condition, and his Firefly can deal crazy damage very, very quickly with the right setup.

In this context, my best bet is to go full speed ahead and hope to outpace his control. So I did in Game 1. He got unlucky on a Shriek roll. I got some Rockets on the field, swung in with the Rocket-Cube-Struggle combo and won. Game 2 was more complex. He got his control pieces on the field and shut down my main strategy. However, I'd made sure to use Shriek early to blank Bishop, forcing my opponent to waste a blanker on Shriek so Bishop could stop Rocket from dealing damage. From there, I bought all forms of damage I could: Collector, Storm, Rocket, Merlyn (1 die). I essentially forced my opponent to play "whack-a-mole" with his other control cards and keep spending energy on control. He never got the time to purchase his Collector. I ended up fielding Collector and using him to field one Merlyn die, while my other Merlyn die would go through my bag and swing in for damage. Little by little, I wore him down and eventually won that game as well. It was a really, really tough match though.

Afterwards, Top 4 match. This one, against @DMArmada and his King Black Bolt team. While I'd played against another KBB team previously, this was a different beast: He used Storm: Extra Lightning as a secondary win condition and for removal, which made his team substantially harder to stop. The game was recorded, and you can watch it here:

In case you want a quick summary, the short version is:
-Game 1, He got KBB out, I blanked him. He blanked Scarlet Witch and got Storm. I blanked his Shriek (freeing my Witch) in the hope that his actions wouldn't roll thanks to the Witch (I thought I'd made a misplay at the time, but it was actually the right move; Storm+Cube could've gotten my Shriek off the table and he would've then used KBB to burn me down). My gamble paid off, the combo fired off, and I barely scraped a win there.
-Game 2, my Scarlet Witch hit the field early, and he never rolled his Knowhere. By the time he managed to buy King Black Bolt, I had gotten his life points so low that King Black Bolt never hit the field. I won 2-0. To be clear: this was a fantastic team, run by a great player. He did a really good breakdown of his team recently, that you can watch here:

So after winning the Top 4, it was on to the grand final, against @Mini-M 's Guy Ring team. This game was also recorded, and you can find it here:

Remember when I referred to @memmek2k 's team earlier, and how it helped later? Well, that match really helped prepare me for what I faced here. Despite them having different strategies, their teams shared a lot of pieces. Rare Grodd, Luke Cage, Star Labs, Bane...all pieces I'd already studied and prepared for. Nevertheless, this was a team that dealt pain in a lot of different ways, with two jackhammers in Guy Rush and Lantern Ring. A fascinating build for sure.

I encourage you to check the match for yourselves, as it really was an interesting one. Lots of fascinating decisions. If you're not interested in watching it, the key points:
-In both games, he went for his Guy Gardner dice quickly. I used his Star Labs for ramp and churn, and I'd use it on my opponent's turn to field sidekicks to serve as blockers. This was a staple of both games. While he bought Lantern Ring both games, they hit the field too late to help him.
-On Game 1, I never got my combo set up (stuff just wouldn't roll at the same time, and he eventually blanked my Rocket with Shriek). Instead, I ended up with Struggle+Cube, and used them with Luke Cage's global (meaning I essentially used @memmek2k 's combo). I thus dealt 4 damage per fist spent (1 with Luke Cage, 3 with Struggle because Cube was active). 5 energy was enough to deal lethal damage.
-Game 2, we were both more aggressive. He went for 2 of my Struggle dice. Eventually, we both had Struggle active, and he was attacking. I took the damage from his attacker, my Struggle dealt him damage. On the following turn, I got the Rocket-Cube-Struggle combo set up. At the beginning of my attack step, we were both at 8 life, and I attacked with Rocket, which would've dealt 8 to both of us. However, after Rocket damaged us both, because I was the active player, my Struggle triggered first, meaning that he was at 0 life before his Struggle triggered.

So I won. To my great surprise, I won. And better yet, I learned so, so much about the game and about various strategies. Hats off to @Mini-M for making it to the finals and for some really great games.

General post-mortem:
-From the moment I played more aggressively and disruptively, the team worked really well and felt much, much better to use. No regrets about choosing Scarlet Witch over Parallax.
-Going for Chalkboard+Merlyn for ramp and consistency was the best choice I could've done. Both of them saved my bacon more times than I could count, either by fixing a bad roll or a bad draw. Honestly, bad luck's the team's biggest weakness. It's fast, but it needs multiple things to fall together at once, so it's really all or nothing.
-If you run rare Merlyn (or the rare Grodd), always make sure you have 2 dice minimum (3 if you can). As a secondary win condition, they're both fantastic options.
-I'm surprised by how little I used Collector in my later matches (outside of Top 8). The threat of him was always there, but by being more aggressive, I rarely had to rely on him.

Overall, I'm really thankful for this V-Worlds tournament. Thanks to Alan Aycock for running it, and for all of the wonderful people whom I played with. It was a ton of fun, and I'll definitely want to do this again. But don't worry guys; next time, I'll try not to play Struggle.

Updated 12-07-2017 at 11:09 PM by ccm00007 (Mistake: Mentioned Jourdo had Boom Boom in his team, but he had Firefly.)

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  1. Yort's Avatar
    Excellent write-up, and a great example of the benefit in playing in tournaments like these, whether it be online or in person. You learn SO much, even when you lose! I wish I could have watched your finals match before I had played Adrien myself! If I had learned your lesson on Star Labs global, I might have had better luck against him!

    Thanks for sharing your experience!
  2. archivist's Avatar
    Great summary! Pleasure to read.
  3. jacquesblondes's Avatar
    Great stuff, Laurier!
  4. ccm00007's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jacquesblondes
    Great stuff, Laurier!
    My secret identity is revealed! (no worries )

    Thank you for the kind words, and thank you also, @Yort and @archivist . Glad you guys enjoyed it.