Empire State University: Deck Theory 101, Mega-Weekend Experience Part 2

by Patrick Yapjoco

For those who missed it part one can be found here: http://entertainment.upperdeck.com/vs/en/news/article.aspx?aid=4120

After the conclusion of the Top 8 in the Silver Age tournament, we headed over to the world famous Giordano’s restaurant down the street.  Tim, Niles, Mickey, and I went ahead and the TAWC guys (John Hall, Shane Wiggins, and Michael Barnes) soon followed.  We were excited to try the Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  Since we were all so hungry, we were contemplating ordering two large pizzas (!).  It’s a good thing we didn’t.  After two heavenly slices, we were stuffed (pun intended), everyone except for Niles.  Even after eating all of the fried appetizers (mostly mushrooms), he was still talking about he can eat two more slices.  Between both parties, we had more than enough for Niles to chow down.  He ate a whole two more slices.  Wow.  That man could eat!  The TAWC guys had a lot of decks (over 15) built for the Little Deck Format (or, as they like to call it, Halfsies) that Tommy Ashton wrote about.  We played a bit after we ate.  That format is the most fun I’ve had playing in a while.


            Afterwards, we all decided to have a Cake Draft.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s just a draft pitting one team against another, and the losing team buys the winning team a cake.  It was a great idea, but we didn’t really figure out how to get to our hotel, which was about 7 miles or so away.  The other guys had a small rent-a-car sedan, which could barely fit 5 people, let alone 7 plus-sized players (to say the least).  Fortunately for us, Mickey decided to just call it a night and took a cab back to his hotel.  Unfortunately for me, I had to ride in the trunk of the car back to the hotel.  I think it was because I was the smallest of the 6 (if that is possible), but I figure lying down comfortably was better than being sardined in the back seat with 3 other “gamey” guys (not many people can smell like roses after 10 hours of gaming).  Maybe I’m just justifying it, I don’t know.  Anyway, I got in and it wasn’t bad at all, and I even made a phone call to Erick to talk to him about the day’s events so he could post it (I’m not sure he knew I was in a trunk, though), until Shane (who was driving) forgot to use the breaks on a U-turn, which threw me around a bit.  If that’s for beating you in round 8, then I guess we’re even.


            We finally got back to the hotel, and we decide to draft Marvel Team-Up.  The teams were split with TAWC on one side, and the West-Coasters on the other.  The rules were simple:  it was a 6-man draft, with each team alternating seating.  The first team to 5 wins was declared the winner.  I drafted a pretty good Underworld/Defenders deck with Hellstorm and an array of recovery/exhausting effects, as well as Blackheart.  I went 2-1, narrowly losing to John Hall and his Moon Knight deck on turn 7.  We ended up winning the draft with Tim barely beating Mike in the 0-2 table to decide the outcome.  Afterwards, we look at our Modern decks, and Niles is set on playing the IG Concealed deck since it’s easy to build and easy to play (just point and shoot).  Tim and I decide to play my Fantastic Four Equipment deck.


After the first MW, the main decks that were played were IG Concealed as well as World’s Finest.  However, in the Top 8, the top decks were Fantastic Four, IG Concealed, Revenge Squad, and Spider-Friends, with no World’s Finest to be found.  So, that was our gauntlet and we just tested against those decks, but mainly focused on the IG Concealed and WF variants.  I also thought that JLA decks would make an impact, with recent success at the City Championships.


            Michael Bean and Daisuke Hanaoka, both teammates, were talking about how large (stat-wise) that the Fantastic Four characters had from turn 4 onwards.  I really wanted to use the New Baxter Building engine in a deck, and suggested teaming them up with Gotham Knights so you can use Barbara Gordon as well as have an 11/14 6-drop in the form of Black Canary.  Add in the Unstable Molecular Suits and it should be really tough to get over that defense.  After much deliberating, I knew Force Field Projection would be huge as well as Family of Four, so I decided to make it a mono team, play a lot of defensive cards like Against All Odds and Reset and just add the equipment.  My theory was that decks have to expend so much effort in just hitting one of my characters, let alone 2 or 3, that eventually, they would run out of gas, in which case I would have the advantage.  I also wanted to be able to recruit one of the main 4 characters at every drop and maximize my board presence.  I wish I could have played 4 B.P.R.D. Signal Devices, but I only had 2, so I had to compromise.  After some tweaking, here is the deck list I played in the 67-man tournament:


4 Luke Cage – Steel Hard-Skin

3 Human Torch 2-drop

4 Invisible Woman 3-drop

1 Thing 3-drop

4 Mr. Fantastic 4-drop

2 Thing 5-drop

1 Invisible Woman 5-drop

1 Human Torch 6-drop (MVL)

1 She-Hulk 6-drop

1 Thing 7-drop

1 Invisible Woman 7-drop

1 Silver Surfer 8-drop


4 Family of Four

3 It’s Clobberin’ Time

3 Reset

3 Force Field Projection

3 Mobilize

3 Signal Flare

2 Against All Odds

2 Omnipotence


4 New Baxter Building


4 Unstable Molecular Suit

2 B.P.R.D. Signal Device

2 Demonic Embryo

1 Ego Gem


Rd. 1 – Angel Luna (JLA/GK)


Angel one of the Team Wis-Cago guys, so I knew he was a good player.  He drops Alfred, Batman, Founding Member, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Aquaman through 6 turns.  I play Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic through 4 turns, and I lose my 3-drop after he plays Skreeeeeee on her.  I have to play the 5-drop Invisible Woman to catch up.  I am able to stabilize somewhat, but I am down on endurance quite a bit.  He has to expend a lot of attack pumps (3 Savage Beatdowns) to be able to stun my equipped guys.  After he plays 3 From the Darkness, we eventually get to turn 8.  My board is Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch-6, Invisible Woman-7, and Silver Surfer-8.  They all have equipment on them, and after a flurry of pumps, I am able to stun his visible board.  He attacks back with Martian Manhunter-8 and a recovered Superman-7, but Invisible Woman’s ability added to the fact that he played all of his pumps on turn 6 means a narrow win for me. -7 to -15; Turn 8 win. 1-0


Rd. 2 – John Helt (IG Concealed)


John is playing the aforementioned concealed beatdown deck.  Through 5 turns he has Penguin (who draws us 3 cards), Johnny Quick, Owlman, Jemm, and Ultraman.  He also has a Hunte Castle.  I have a pretty good opening with Luke Cage + Ego Gem (he drew me a lot of cards as well), Invisible Woman-3, Mr. Fantastic, and Thing-5.  I lose Luke after he plays Skreeeeeee on Invisible Woman.  With so many cards in my hand, I am able to play a couple of Force Field Projections to push the game to turn 6.  John misses turn 6, under-drops with Superwoman and Catwoman, while my board is starting to stabilize.  With the Signal Device on Invisible Woman, she was safe from harm.  I also have the Suits on my 4, 5, and 6-drops.  After a flurry of pumps, I am able to brickwall an attack to send it to turn 7.  I play Thing-7, bounce his board and I pull out the win.  Turn 7 win. 2-0


Rd. 3 – Bilal Murphy (GK/Spider-Friends Stall)


This was one of the most interesting games I played all day.  He has the super engine going with Aflred, Barbara, Aunt May/Ego Gem, Spider-Man-4, Cassandra Cain, along with Empire State University and The Hook-up,  Meanwhile, I mulligan into an opening hand of 4 Molecular Suits, and missed my 2-drop and 3-drop (Mobilize is useless on turn 3 if you don’t have a 2-drop!).  The good thing is, he elects to just draw cards instead of attack me, and I have Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, and Human Torch through 6 turns.  I think at this point that he is playing a Cassandra Cain deck since he has so many cards, so I flip Omnipotence, foolishly naming Cassandra Cain.  We eventually get to turn 9 and he drops his bomb: Onslaught.  My board has grown to add Thing-7, Silver Surfer, as well as She-Hulk, and my whole board is equipped.  The good news is I have Silver Surfer to prevent Onslaught from decimating my board.  The problem is he has Spider-Man-7 and Sentry to stifle my attacks.  After some safe attacks, I pull out a turn 10 win, 28-8. 3-0


Rd. 4 – Javier Perez (World’s Finest)


Javier is playing a very different World’s Finest deck.  He has Alfred, Krypto, and Barbara through 3 turns.  I have Luke Cage and Human Torch through 3 turns.  After some attacks, I lose Luke Cage.  On turn 4, he plays Power Girl ◊ Nightwing, while I play Mr. Fantastic.  He has Superman-5 (the good one) and along with Power Girl’s ability and my equipment, we go to turn 6 with our board intact.  The key comes in turn 6 as I am able to force a Bat Got Your Tongue from Javier, exhausting his Batman during his attack step.  I am able to swing back and make him lose Power Girl.  Turn 7, he has Superman, Deterrent Force while I have Thing-7.  At this point, I am able to do some damage, and stun his Superman to make him lose his cosmic counter.  On turn 8, he has Kara Zor-El while I have Silver Surfer.  I steal the initiative and get him to the negatives.  His swing back is not enough as my defensive plays were too much.  1 to -8, Turn 8 win.  4-0


Rd. 5 – Charles Huggins (Spider-Friends/Wolverine)


Also known as cchug2001, Charles was playing the Spider-Friends deck with Wolverine + Berserker Rage as the finisher.  He has Black Cat, Darkhawk, and Spider-Man through 4 turns.  He also has the Empire State University going for him, but he misses his 5-drop completely.  I have Luke Cage, Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman-5 through 5 turns.  I have the Suit on Mr. Fantastic, which stopped some attacks.  However, we get to turn 6 and out comes Wolverine-6.  I have Human Torch-6, and after I flip Omnipotence, naming Berserker Rage, I could see that it hurt his plans.  I was able to take minimal damage and not have Wolverine clear my board.  We eventually get to turn 8, and I play another Omnipotence, this time naming Gift Wrapped.  After combat, the score was 26-7 in my favor.  We go to turn 9, but he scoops after we draw.  Turn 9 win.  5-0


Rd. 6 – Niles Rowland (Injustice Gang Concealed)


So, I have to play Niles again, but this time the situation is different.  We are both at the top of the standings at this point.  He drops Catwoman, Black Manta, Jemm, and White Martian through 5 turns.  I have Luke Cage, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, and Thing through 5 turns.  I don’t have the equipment engine going on in this game, but I have some good defensive cards.  However, he has Hunte Castle and Stryker’s Island to offset any defense I have as he can re-use them every turn.  Even after a Reset, he still has enough to clear my board.  We go to turn 6 and I have She-Hulk.  He drops Superwoman and Owlman and he is able to have enough to get me into the negatives.  Turn 6 loss. 5-1


Rd. 7 – Ernie (mono-X-Men)


Ernie is Todd Carlson’s friend and testing partner, so I knew he was good.  At first, I thought he was playing a Jean Grey deck, but it turns out it is a mono X-Men deck.  He has Wolverine-3, Emma Frost, Jean Grey-5 (who is 10/10), and Mimic through 6 turns.  He also has Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning and Cerebro working for him.  I have Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, and She-Hulk through 6 turns.  I don’t have my equipment engine going on again in this game as well.  He plays a full 3 Turnabout so he can clear my board.  After brickwall an attack later on, I think I am able to clear board, but he has a Children of the Atom to recover his Emma Frost.  On turn 6, he drops Mimic and after a flurry of pumps, which he plays 2 more Savage Beatdowns, I am at a lowly 16 endurance.  Turn 7 rolls around, and I have Invisible Woman-7 to his Professor X-7.  I chain to the recruit, flipping Omnipotence.  I name Professor X so I don’t lose right away.  After Mimic pays the 2 endurance to burn me for 11 via Thing, I have free reign on my attacks.  After some pumps, which also sees a Telepathic Suppression, he is at -2 and I am at 5.  He has one attack back with Professor X, but he has no pumps to push the damage or to get over Invisible Woman’s ability, and after I show him the Against All Odds, I earn the victory.  5 to -2, Turn 7 win.  6-1


Rd. 8 – Abacu Miranda (Fantastic Four)


Abacu is another Team Wis-Cago member.  He is playing a Fantastic Four deck.  This match tests my theory as we are playing a mirror match, but I am hoping that my equipment will be too much for him to overcome, turn after turn.  He has a good curve with Namorita, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Human Torch, Thing-7, and Silver Surfer.  My curve is similar, except that I miss my 2-drop and I decide to drop She-Hulk instead of Human Torch.  I am able to get all 4 of Unstable Molecular Suit online and I have my draw engine going.  I knew he runs Finishing Move, so I name that with Omnipotence, to keep things honest.  He has a lot of pumps in the form of Savage Beatdown, It’s Clobberin’ Time, Family of Four, and Torch and Thing.  I am able to stay in the game with a full 3 Force Field Projection.  Since my characters are just naturally bigger, he has to expend a lot of effort stunning my characters.  It all came to a head on turns 9 and 10.  He has no more pumps while I still have Family of Four.  In the end, I pull out a very close victory, 7-5.  Turn 10 win.  7-1


Rd. 9 – Ben Brozene (IG Concealed)


 For the final round of Swiss, I play another IG Concealed deck.  I have found that taking the odd initiative gives me the best shot at winning, so I take the odds initiative.  He has Catwoman, Superwoman, misses his 3-drop (!), Jemm, and White Martian through 5 turns.  I have Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, and Thing through 5 turns myself.  I am desperate to hit drops, so I discard my Human Torch-6 and Invisible Woman-7 to New Baxter Building, hoping to find drops.  I have my equipment engine online again, and the flurry of combat on turn 5 was the turning point.  If he stuns my Thing, then he can swing directly to win.  After 2 Blinding Rage and 1 Crime Syndicate of Amerika pump to try to get over Thing’s defense, I play Reset, which stops the attack and pushes it to turn 6.  He has Prometheus and I have She-Hulk.  Since he has no bonuses for being his initiative, he only stuns 1 character and we move to turn 7.  I drop Thing-7, bouncing some of his board, which he re-plays.  After a direct swing from me he is at -9.  His counter attack leaves me at -8.  Turn 7 win.  8-1


Top 8 (Qtrs) – Javier Perez (World’s Finest)

            Javier and I are matched up again, and I figure that I have a good chance and winning, since I already beat him.  What I didn’t know was the full extent of his deck’s power.  He plays a full 4 copies of Early Edition as well as Bat Got Your Tongue to negate anything and everything.  The first game was really close, and I had a sub-par draw.  He has a stellar draw, but since the WF deck is naturally slow, we get to turn 8.  By then I have stabilized and his mis-attack with his Kar Zor-El gave me the game I should have lost.  Game two was also a horrendous game for me.  My first play was on turn 4 while he has a great opening again.  I think I am able to get back into in the mid game, but he negated 4 of my plot twists to win on turn 7.  Game 3 was really close.  I plan for the negation by looking for Omnipotence with Mr. Fantastic.  By turn 6, I have both copies, naming Early Edition and Bat Got Your Tongue to make sure I can get my plot twists through.  I make a mistake on turn 5 by not running Luke Cage into a character, and he proved to be the liability pm turn 6.  Time is called and turn 7 is the last turn.  I think I can win, but I didn’t see the substitution of Cassandra Cain with a fist full of cards.  I burn a Reset to turn off Power Girl’s effect and I send Thing into Cassandra Cain.  He has 4 cards to force me to use Mr. Fantastic to dig for a pump, which I find.  I achieve the stun, but now I have to send Torch into Power Girl because Batman will stun back.  If he reinforces, I lose by 1 endurance.  I know he will, so I take a gamble.  He has 2 cards left.  I attempt to use Human Torch’s ability, but he has For the Man Who Has Everything to negate it with Batman, and give him the win.  2-1 Loss.



            The deck performed better than I had hoped.  I wanted to see if my theory of the deck would work out, and it did.  I did not expect to see turn 8 or later very much, but as you saw, I got to the late game almost every time.  That means there could be a better win condition in the late game.  Also, I wish I had 2 more Signal Device because that is a huge buffer against Skreeeeeee and exhausting effects like Spider-Man or Gift Wrapped.  Lastly, I would probably play 4 Signal Flare and 2 Mobilize because you don’t always hit your 2-drop, and if you have a Mobilize in-hand on turn 3, you’ll have no play as well.  Overall, the metagame was as expected, although I was expecting more Revenge Squad decks.  A potentially devastating deck is Dan Clark’s IG hand-flood deck.  It took the tournament by surprise and is a deck worth taking a look at. 


            In conclusion, the Mega-Weekend was a great experience.  The atmosphere is great and the tournaments themselves were run with great efficiency.  I got to meet some of the realmers as well as old Pro Circuit friends.  With the announcement that Worlds will be Modern Age, this could be a peek into what we might see at the event.



2 Responses

  1. great read thanks

  2. Yeah… you told me about the trunk… because you were yelling at them after one of those u-turns.

    Wish I could’ve been there… for pizza… for watching Niles eat pizza… and for HALFSIES!

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