Illuminations: Part 1

June 12, 2008

So any minute now Omar and I will be receiving our case of MUN. This is very exciting news for us, clearly, but it also comes with a dilemma. Once we crack open a zillion packs and try to organize everything, we have the tough decision of choosing what team to build first!

The Illuminati!

Not since Enemy of My Enemy has UDE tempted players into building such a powerful jank deck. Six characters, nearly a dozen team affiliations between them, and almost no shared traits or abilities worth mentioning. This could prove to be quite a challenge, but if we managed to build a New Gods deck then the Illuminati should be a cake walk. Mm… cake.

Anyway, when The Illuminati was first previewed our good pal ‘The’ Ben Seck was kind enough to come up with a comprehensive list of all Illuminati characters in VS.. This includes all of the characters’ names, recruit costs, and versions. This should prove to be an invaluable resource for us, and any deck builder hoping to send The Hulk into outer space. Thanks Ben!

Our ultimate goal with this deck build an enormous hand, and use the new Infinity Gauntlet plot twist to ruin our opponents’ lives (and possibly their credit scores.) The suggestion has been made that the easiest way to do this is to vomit out several low-cost Illuminati characters in a single turn, and sneak in the Gauntlet that way. For a variety of reasons I don’t think this is possible, so we’ll need to find another win condition down the line.

Sadly, our Silver Age Illuminati deck has a less than impressive low curve. We have Black Bolt, Enemy Within, who seems out of place in anything but a Skrulls deck, and the new Professor X, Mutant Benefactor. Professor X has a fatty defense and a great deck-milling ability, so we’ll be running him.

On two there are severak options. At the head of the pack is Dr. Strange, Secret Avenger, who can rally for whatever he wants. It’s unlikely that we’ll get more than a single card off of his power, but Professor X could make it possible. In the business we call that ‘Synergy.’ I also like an older card, Black Bolt, Illuminati, from the Heralds of Galactus set. His power will help sort out our resource row, and give us a peek into the future. Both of these characters, which is a big plus: we’re going to need a lot of concealed characters to make sure our Illuminati members stick around until the later rounds.

Three presents us with more choices, none of which are particularly good. Since we’re running Black Bolt and Professor X on earlier drops, our only options are Doom-affiliated Iron Man, another Mr. Fantastic and two versions of Namor. The most recent Namor, Protector of the Soul Gem, allows us to return cards from our KO pile to the top of our deck. Later on this could prove to be valuable in case our opponent replaces some of our ongoing plot twists. We’ll include copies of the older Marvel Defenders Namor as well, just to ensure that we don’t miss anything on turn 3.

On turn 4 we have A LOT of interesting options. However, the only ones that stand out to me for this build are Mr. Fantastic, Critical Thinker, and the new Mr. Fantastic, Haunted Genius. Both of these characters have fatty defenses, which is great, and abilities that replenish our hand with cards. I think Haunted Genius is better, since even though it doesn’t guarantee that we get a card there is potential to get two. Professor X will likely still be around on 4, so we could maximize this potential.

Turn 5 seems perfect for Iron Man, Profector of the Reality Gem. His exhaustion effect is too awesome for words, and we should be able to effectively lock down our opponents’ boards through the use of it.

Turn 6 I like Dr. Strange, Ally of the Four. His power allows me to exhaust my entire board for Illuminati effects, and then re-ready them at the start of the combat phase. However, his ability is limited to Fantastic Four characters; I will need to find a way to team-up these characters if I want to maximize that power. Otherwise, the only characters to get any use of it will be Strange himself and Mr. Fantastic.

Turn 7 we really only have one option. Only three Illuminati members have a seven-drop (Professor X, Iron Man and Dr. Strange.) Of those cards, Iron Man is clearly the best, but that would force us to lose our five-drop to uniqueness. The second choice, Strange, is someone we just recruited the turn before, so that ain’t happening. So, until we get a really awesome 7-drop, we’ll deal with a lackluster Defenders/X-Men Professor X , Illuminati, on 7. Boo.

Preferably we want to ruin our opponent’s hand, KO their resources, and dance on their grave by 8. However, whether or not this is a reality is still uncertain. Just in case, we’ll include a copy of the 8-drop Black Bolt, Devastating Decree.

In closing, our list looks something like this:

  • 1 Drops: Professor X, Mutant Benefactor
  • 2 Drops: Dr. Strange, Secret Avenger – Black Bolt, Illuminati
  • 3 Drops: Sub-Mariner, Protector of the Soul Gem — Sub-Mariner, King of Atlantis
  • 4 Drop: Mr. Fantastic, Haunted Genius
  • 5 Drop: Iron Man, Protector of the Reality Gem
  • 6 Drop: Dr. Strange, All of the Four
  • 7 Drop: Professor X, Illuminati
  • 8 Drop: Black Bolt, Devastating Decree.

Next time I’ll be cracking open our packs, and selecting a plot twist/location/equipment(!?) suite for our build. Also I hope to figure out whether or not teaming up our Illuminati members is worth all of the trouble! See you then!

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