Well after a week off this week we finish up our trip to the Asylum and revisit some more of Batman’s “Friends” – The Birds of Prey. If anyone is in the UK on Friday evening and fancies a trip to Loughborough, my monthly gaming group is doing a draft, in French, of the European dual release of Marvel Knights/Web of Spider-Man.
And don’t forget the UK Vs. System Megaweekend is happening on the 3rd and 4th of September. Email UkVsSystem@gmail.com for queries, more information or to purchase advanced tickets.
On to the part 9 of the set review…
77. Live from My Hideout!
[just a quick note to say, as written this card doesn't quite work, but I am assured this is being fixed soon assuming it works in the way everyone thinks it should when reading it...]
This Plot twist either does nothing or it draws you a card and exhausts an opposing character. It is great if you can fix the top of your deck (Losing the Argument?) at least for the exhaust deck, but if you can’t it is probably too unreliable. Unfortunately I’m not sure the exhaust deck gets much other mileage from fixing the top cards of its deck so I don’t think it wants to waste the deck space running cards to do so. Perhaps there is a control/burn strategy made viable by this card and Human Torch – Secret Avenger but I’m not sure…
78. Mud Pack
I’ve probably said it enough times in the Arkham review already, but I think insanity will love this card. With inconsistency as part of your game plan having a card that lets you recruit guys from you row or KO’d pile is very useful. In more traditional decks though I’m not sure Arkham really care about giving their guys reservist and Messiah Complex or one of the Slaughter Swamp type locations is probably give you more utility.
79. Party Time
This card is pretty awesome, it is not quite a tutor but it can “search” for an on-turn drop every turn, from turn one. Again of course insanity loves it but so to do most Arkham decks, it might lose out to Usual Suspects in some decks but because this cards discard is non-random it will be a tough call for deck builders, and I can see situations where I’ll want to play both; BYOT and Insanity for sure and any other AI deck where I think I need more than 8 tutors (because we have mobilise for 4 of them)
80. Scare Tactics
A version of a plot twist that gives a previously turn long effect for just a single attack, and that carries the additional limiter that the defender must be exhausted seems like it is a serve weakening of the original effect. Luckily Bamf! is a very powerful effect to begin with, and having its effect for only one attack is usually more than enough to swing the board position in your favour, especially if you’ve already baited out a Nasty Surprise. Perhaps only truly good in an exhaust deck, but this plot twist also has a good chance of drawing you a card so I think it is a really strong inclusion.
One of the problems Bamf! had, was that it often encouraged “bad plays”. I have seen, on more than one occasion, a player with Bamf! in his hand off initiative that would not use it on his single remaining character/attack. Preferring to save it for next turn when all his guys could benefit from it, even though using it there and then would gain them a character advantage going into their initiative. As this card only works for one attack, maybe people will be more prepared to use it to best effect off initiative as well as on – I can but hope.
81. Barbara Gordon <> Oracle, Hacker Elite
I don’t know anyone who didn’t love Babs the first time around, this time is no different. Her stats may be a little low but the fact she draws you a card every turn, cycles extra copies of her self if needed (through substitute) and can be brought into play later in the game when another 3 or higher drop has out lived its usefulness makes her the perfect inclusion in any control style deck, whether you are running one of her team or not…
Evil Dave’s Review:
Well, we’ve seen her, we love her, every control deck that fails to have a 3-drop (or needs to eject the one they have because of name loyalty requirement) uses her. She’s a card drawing engine on a stick (though post-council fanset days loses out to Dr. Strange of the Marvel Defenders as the “best” card drawing engine 3-drop for a control deck). She’s an amazing card, though in the actual Birds of Prey deck serves the role of simply cycling… when you are an aggressive deck, you rarely actually want to keep a 3/3 for 3 around long enough to attack. Still, Platinum Flats with her and Vixen subbing through make for a solid enough engine that you will want her even there.
Limited cards aren’t worth as much as constructed, so I rate her much, much lower. 3-drops are so vital in limited that a 3/3 body is unacceptable, even with a nice ability like that.
On-Team (BoP): 3-star. You probably play her as a good “cycling” come into play effect with excellent synergy with Platinum Flats, but you’re probably not happy. On opposing initiatives, you’ve got the Vixen / Dinah substitrain to ride on.
On-Team (GK): 5-star. Yeah, you just play her. She ejects out Batmans, she draws cards. She’s a staple in every Batman deck.
Splash (Modern): 4-star. Most Modern decks include State 51, and she acts as a happy teammate, drawing you cards on her own then State 51ing cards out. I only lower her because Dr. Strange tends to draw more, and acts as a good meat shield from the defense running around.
Limited: 3-star. I’d rather hit someone in limited, and she can’t do that. Cards are valuable, but not worth giving up your 3 drop. But she does have substitute.
82. Barbara Gordon <> Oracle, Eyes Everywhere
Like her three drop incarnation, this oracle nets you a card every turn. This discard cost means it is possible you might not always be able to use her ability but overall I think it makes the ability more powerful as it allows to increase card quality as well as quantity.
Her second ability is hard to get and keep on-line, requiring as it does two other characters and this six-drop, but it is one hell of a secondary effect to have – your opponents can’t target you or your characters with anything! This is a nail in the coffin for a spider-stall deck, or any deck that controls your characters without KOing them.
Eight is a very low attack stat for a six drop, she needs help to stun most 5-drops, but her 14 DEF and concealed optional means she is going to be hard for your opponent to take down if you don’t want them to. The fact she costs six makes her too much of an investment to be a splashable as the 3 drop but I can certainly see her in loads of GK and BoP decks.
Evil Dave’s Review:
Now there are three phenomenal abilities on this card. First, the ability to cycle, puts her slightly above her 3-drop equivalenet. Second, as a clear control deck card, her 14 defense will block out anyone (and I don’t know why anyone would ever actually conceal her, given those stats). Her third text is interesting, if you are looking to play a Batmanless (Fight For Cowel) Gotham knights deck. Between Dinah 5-drop and huntress, if you have them in the hidden area and Barbara visible (preferably wearing Batman’s Cowel), you’re not going to be targeted, and neither are her squishy hidden friends. Obviously being a 6-drop, she would never make the aggro build.
On-Team (BoP): 1-star. She is a 6-drop
On-Team (GK): 5-star. You can’t ask for a better on-team control card, especially if you have Dinah on 5 and Huntress 4 too.
Splash: 5-star. If you’re looking for a splash control card, I can’t think of much better
Limited: 2-star. See above, I give her a nod for stopping opponents with 14 defense, but she won’t stun back and is terrible on-init.
83. Big Barda, Bad Attitude Barda
This is the first card in the set we’ve seen with Substitue-Loyalty on. Luckily it does exactly what you expect and loyalty isn’t usually too hard to meet by turn seven, even in a team up deck.
Having to substitute her into play to get her cosmic counter means you’ll need another seven drop available to recruit on turn seven. Unfortunately there is not much on team that you can benefit from to do this, but splashing say X-Man or another comes into play effect character could be good. Running Basil Karlo would allow you to get over the card cost of the substitute.
If you do manage to get her ability online Barda can make a big difference to the endurance race on the final turns of the game effectively gaining you seven endurance. 17 ATK and range aren’t too bad either. Overall though I think there are better effects that you have to work less hard to get at seven…
Evil Dave’s Review:
Seriously? A 7-drop with invulnerability is pretty mediocre in and of itself, with this character it’s cosmic and you have to play another 7-drop just to get that much.
All formats: 1-star. Come on people, New Gods aren’t REQUIRED to suck.
84. Cassandra Cain <> Batgirl, Crashing In
Cassandra is very similar to Freddy Freeman a card that to my knowledge saw little play. The fact that she is hidden means that she can’t use the DEF bump she gets to brick-wall attacks although she can make a pretty scary return attacker off initiative. The way her power triggers means you can’t pull of any Raven tricks with her, although I’m not sure they’d be worthwhile anyway, but it does mean that unlike Freddy she gets a pump even if she is substituted,or recruited, into play herself after other characters have been subbed in (for example if you draw her off an oracle you just switched in).
Unfortunately to make much use of her power you’ll need a lot of cards to substitute into play and most of the time you won’t have more than 2 or 3 characters out anyway. Perhaps there is a deck out there than can use her and Freddy as the 5 & 6 drops and exploit the synergy between them, but I’m not sure.
Evil Dave’s Review:
Hmmm… she’ll be 11/10 to 12/11 in a dedicated substitute deck, which is nice. But then, I think the dedicated aggro substitute deck has better options, and she can’t be splashed, so I don’t think she has a deck. I wish she was concealed optional so you could at least consider playing her as a defensive 5-drop.
On-team: 2-star (1-star GK). You’ve got better options on both of her teams, GK might consider her if she was concealed-optional.
Splash: 1-star. Marvel Defenders can use her, but not really.
Limited: 2-star. You don’t draw as much in limited, so she’ll probably be a 10/9, tops. With no other text, even in limited you can do better, sometimes even if you have to leave team.
85. Catwoman, Good Kitty
Catwoman has had discard themes associated with her before, but the “prediction” theme of this one definitely puts her in the GK detective deck category rather than any of the birds themes. Getting her ability to go off can be difficult and correctly guessing a card is hard without the help of other detectives. An 8 ATK, hidden, substitute, 4 drop is not to bad overall but I think most decks can do better at this drop.
Evil Dave’s Review:
Her stats are pretty bad, but you’re not expecting much defense. Her ability is pretty mediocre. Even if she made your opponent discard whenever she stuns a character, and even if you have knowledge of their hand, discard 1 non-character is pretty mediocre, as opponents will quickly run out of non-characters in hand (they’ll be rowed). As it stands she’s a bit limited, and put off by reinforcement.
On-team: 1-star. Even in the new GK “peek your hand” deck, you can do better.
Splash: 1-star. Couldn’t think of a reason
Limited: 1-star. Yup, you can do better even here. Especially as her ability becomes less relevant when people have less non-characters.
86. Connor Hawke <> Green Arrow, Locked on Target
Hmmm… at first glance this card looks like off curve hate, but then you realise you only get to stun low drops for free if you also stun a bigger character. A lot of off curve decks I have played, both with and against, curve out at 3 meaning this isn’t really a great card against them. Against standard curve decks you might take out 2 characters for the price of one if you have initiative on turn 4 but otherwise this guy will probably be most useful for picking off “free” one drops and hidden low drop utility characters, not too bad but not brilliant either as it can only really be used on initiative and only in attacks where he will most likely be stunned back. His substitute does allow him to be included as a one of in a deck to be tutored out and substituted in as a Silver Bullet (or should that be arrow?) should those hard to deal with hidden one drops start to Vex you though…
Evil Dave’s Review:
He’s pretty bad too, sadly a long trend of pretty “safe” characters. His presence will make your opponent put their 2-drop (if it is still around) in front of their 4, limiting his ability to activate turn 4. And after against curve decks he stops doing anything. Against non-curve decks, he can still… only be OK. His stats make him easy to stun “up” when defending (he really should have higher defense), and even when swinging his 2-for-1 will result in him stunning out. I’d say he might be a 1-of searchable splash for decks that hide their twos, but that is enough to warrant his 2nd star in my book.
On-team: 2-star. There are rare instances he’ll do double-duty, so for those instances you may want 1. Maybe.
Limited: 2-star. People are more likely to value hidden 2s in limited, upping his value.
Splash: Don’t know why you would ever bother.
87. Dawn Granger <> Dove, New Bird
Yey, Teen Titans! A 2/1 with flight for one is a pretty good deal and I love the fact that in my titans deck she boosts everyone’s attack every time she team attacks! Teen Titans Go! loves her, especially if you’ve got some stun avoidance tech too, and remember she boosts everyone’s attack not just those in the team attack making her a great choice in decks like the SRA
Black Bolt deck, and I can certainly see her making friends with the outsiders…
I’m not sure how much she adds to the birds’ strategy, getting her and hank out at a reduced cost is quite card intensive in a deck that s already hungry for cards to substitute, but I think she might take over as the dawn of choice in many Titans decks.
Evil Dave’s Review:
Here’s an interesting one. This might be the best Dawn Granger printed to date. 2/1 stats, alternate cost (with her standard Hank text), and an OK ability (encourage swing-up with your 2). What’s not to like? Well, she’s not hidden on the birds, that knocks her down a notch for me there. And Hank also isn’t hidden.
On Teen Titans she is a train though, since she can encourage a stun-out on an early attack (she feeds Teen Titans GO! So nicely). Certainly the Dawn of choice there.
On team (birds): 3-star. Nice stats, which she could hide herself
On team (Titans): 4-star. Great Dawn, great synergy with TTG, what’s not to like?
Limited: 3-star. If you need a 2, her stats are solid, and she and Hank are both common, so there you go.
Splash: 1-star. You’d never really splash her.
88. Dinah Laurel Lance <> Black Canary, Sonic Sister
This Dinah has a strange mix of stall type abilities, locking down an already exhausted character and potentially reducing the attack of another (or the same if you wish). The abilities pull you between wanting her to attack first, to protect your other characters by lowering an ATK value, or last, to keep the biggest opposing guy locked down next turn. Obviously she is best if you have 3 girls out so she can attack in the middle (a nice tie in to the BoP “trinity”) but I think ultimately she is going to lose out to Babs as the preferred drop at this slot.
Evil Dave’s Review:
OK, I appreciate she is a member of Emerald Archers, but her text has no synergy with that team’s effects, so I don’t think this version belongs on that teams. Gripe aside, I like this character. You’ll love her locking down “effect”, especially on-init (where their biggest guy gets stunned first and she comes down and effectively “Kos” that character. Nothing not to like. Her added effect also only requires Barbara OR Huntress, so she gives you 7 power worth of attack for a 3-drop. Probably my favorite 3 on-team to actually attack with.
On-team : 4 star. Though I hesitate to see her as an Archer, she’s good there too.
Limited: 5-star. I might off-team splash her, for no better reason than lockdown is effectively a KO, something far harder to work around in limited.
89. Dinah Laurel Lance <> Black Canary, Biker Babe
A borderline under-statted, loyal character with an ability she can only use on the turn she comes into play seems like a bit of a bum deal. Having substitute makes it somewhat better as does concealed optional. The fact that the ability is an off-initiative exhaust effect is also pretty sweet even if it can only hit “down the curve”. Being part of the BoP trinity and having these attributes actually makes her pretty good in those decks, as she helps to enable six drop Babs and four drop huntress (who we’ll see next week). I can’t see her making the cut in many other places though, maybe a in a Superhuman Registration Act powered stall deck?
Evil Dave’s Review:
She belongs on Gotham Knights, as it would be tough to justify me using her as a Bird. With that said, she hits as a 10/7 and has an option if your opponent is really aggressive (and this Modern format has several REALLY aggressive decks, including opposing Birds decks, the Syndicate, and Underworld beats). Even as a 1-time off init lockdown, she’s “worth it”, as she can then swing in the next turn
On team (Birds): 3-star. She’s not bad, and you may want 1-of in case you are trying to push-off an init a turn vs some other aggro decks.
On team (GK): 4-star. More highly rateable here, as I love the lockdown effect on GK (who always serve as a better “soft control” in the first place.
Off team: NA (whole loyalty thing)
Limited: 5-star. Diverse and good stats, what’s not to love? I’d draft her fairly highly in limited, only hesitating a little because her loyalty gives me SOME leeway and 5s aren’t as important as 3s or 4s.
Well that’s it for another week, I hope to put something up about our experience of drafting in French next week but we’ll see how it goes time wise.
Until next time…