Since the release of Nebula in the A-Force Expansion, the Vs Community has been aching to know what the game designers meant with the wording of her superpower, Underling. (Underling reads “Nebula gets +3/+3 f your main character is Evil and is Level 2 or higher”) After waiting for two expansions and some unfortunate release delays that question was answered in the newest expansion Vs System 2PCG Legacy. Legacy – in my opinion, the best expansion to date – came packed with new content for the existing Marvel teams including; new supporting characters, a new team stamped “loyalty” plot twist and its attempt to form a team identify, 1 new MC per team, and 1 Level 3 Main Character per team. I believe the level 3 main character is going to end up being the most intriguing change for the future of the game and in this article I intend to discuss that direction.
First of all, the idea that I could build a deck around and utilize my favorite Marvel characters initially made me giddy. As I drooled over the prospect of being able to create amazing competitive decks with Wolverine, Deadpool, and Iron man (three of my favorite heroes), I couldn’t imagine I would be so wrong. If anything after 1 base set, and 4 expansions, it has been confirmed that not all MCs are, or will ever be created equal — Looking at you Daredevil – but it goes beyond Daredevil, there are easily lists of MCs out there that are unplayable and a handful of MCs that appear overpowered. I also found most of the game play mechanics and character flavor I enjoyed most are on MCs I never thought I would want to play.
Loki, God of Mischief is my favorite MC and has been since I first played him. His play style is fun and interesting and Loki also was an MC that can compete with some of the best MCs. He has a good set of super powers and easy level up condition, but I found it incredibly challenging to consistently win against the “better” MCs and most of the time the loss is pretty bad. After every expansion that comes out, I try to make a Loki deck – and the results are always the same, he can compete, but it’s hard to consistently win. I unfortunately don’t have as much time as I would like to play the game, so the little time I spend playing I want to ensure I am tournament ready and have my best chance at winning; this causes me to have to constantly shelf the MC that makes the game most enjoyable to me. Unfortunately after the release of Aliens Battles and having one (not very good) generic plot twist, it continued seeming very bleak that Loki would make the splash I wanted anytime soon.
Now enter Legacy and sure enough level three MCs are introduced and I had renewed vigor in my hopes that Loki would be playable at a tournament level again, especially with the addition of Starhawk and Crossbones. Of course my dreams were shattered when we received a level 3 Daredevil, Kingpin, Groot, Mystique, Spider-Man, Wolverine, She-Hulk, and Green Goblin – all characters that arguably had issues competing against the top decks pre Legacy, and some of them were unplayable. Unplayable of course is a “relative” term, so I define unplayable as – to build a deck around this main character is near impossible because they lack the card support to successful promote their flavor, level them up reasonably, or another main character offers the same thing but better. I am going to state it anyway, the characters that were unplayable Pre Legacy, are still unplayable post Legacy. Based upon that definition I can honestly say Green Goblin and Daredevil are both unplayable. Sure maybe there is a game where Green Goblin can win using his ability, heck maybe there’s a game where you have 4 moonstones or ambushers in your starting hand so Daredevil can level up… but that is still not consistent.
There are essentially a lot of issues with characters built like Daredevil, Green Goblin, and the rest of the MCs the collective seems to deem unplayable. Although, I think the most obvious problem is related to their level up condition, (which you can see with the change to Thanos making him almost unplayable) but based upon the developers choosing Daredevil as a level 3 MC option, I feel they don’t necessarily agree. Daredevil and Green Goblin still may never see play competitively, they don’t have the card support to make them reliable in a tournament and nothing more than a “Troll” deck where you meet your goal once. This I found frustrating when there are a lot of characters that are so close to being relevant if they just had a little more of a push.
I was let down by Green Goblin being the Villain MC (and the lack of a Loyalty combat plot twist). Loki is a great MC, he’s very close to being competitive, in my opinion he only really lacks a few more worthwhile combat plot twists that he can utilize, and his lack of 6 or more wounds makes it so you have to build to prevent wounds as much as possible. Introducing the Loki as a level to 3, would have boosted stats (preferably resembling Spider-Man), add an additional wound, and brought in a new level 3 Super Power that is comparative to the other MCs. With that you’d see Loki on the field at Gen Con. Unfortunately you won’t see Daredevil.
The same could be said about a bunch of MCs other than Loki, (Storm, Starlord, and Dr. Strange come to mind) but that doesn’t solve the fundamental problem for level up abilities. Daredevil will never be playable because of his level up – to fix him, you need to create more card support that will help him level, or remake him as a level 1 MC. How can more card support help Daredevil if he is so bad? Well – give him flight, grab, or another keyword via another support, ongoing plot twist, or equipment. Make another on team or good character like Xenomorph Ambusher or Moonstone. Make new innovative ideas like Stick, a move toward a direction in which, maybe I won’t need to level Daredevil? Unfortunately just releasing the level 3 Daredevil did not make him playable – but if they had made a level 3 version of Dr. Strange or Luke… the possibilities for Gen Con deck builds could have been crazy.
All in all I am happy with the direction Legacy is pointing us toward as I can start to expect that new level 3 MCs can always been included into a set. I am super intrigued with the unknown mechanics and cards that can be introduced in Monsters Unleashed, especially being there are 78 support characters. As of today we were shown our first spoiler of the Monster’s team that utilizes Space, but not Energy (blue) resources and already us at Playset are theory crafting the meta change. I hope Upper Deck and Super Awesome games are able hold onto the momentum that Legacy brings to the Vs 2PCG scene, and continue to produce fun and intuitive products. Honestly if I was Upper Deck right now, I would consider new products for Vs 2PCG like a low cost, low card count “booster pack” that introduces the new level 2&3 MCs – similar to the booster packs in Munchkin. I can imagine I am not the only person who wants to see more level 3 characters and are happy with the release of Legacy. It’s reassuring that the dev team took a lot of the feedback and used it to shape Legacy and hopefully they continue that trend. Good luck everyone attending Gen Con and I’ll see you there! Feel free to drop a comment, or hit me up on the collective if you ever want to theory craft!