Out of the Shadows…is a series of articles highlighting fun, helpful cards that aren’t getting a lot of attention. They may or may not be meta-worthy, but are definitely worth looking at for casual play.
SP//dr: Arachnid CPU
As my last article before Worlds this weekend, I wanted to highlight one last card that could come in handy against the (expected to be) ever-present Iceman: Right on Schedule (and other potential meta cards…I’m looking at you, Norman Osborn: Don’t Call Me “Gobby!”). I’ve reached back into The Mighty Thor (TMT) set for this one, and like the last article, it’s a Rare card. SP//dr: Arachnid CPU is a five cost bolt character, and it has not one, but two While Active abilities. “While SP//dr is active, when an opposing non-SP//dr ability deals damage to you, deal that same amount of damage to target opponent. While SP//dr is active, when you are dealt damage, cancel any active effects of previously used action dice.”
Lots of text on this guy. Shall we unpack it together?
Why is this special?
Let’s start with the first While Active ability. It’s a lot of words, but essentially, we can boil it down to this: if our SP//dr is active, and your character hits me in the face with damage, I’m going to bounce that exact same amount of damage back at you. Fro example, during the attack step, you hit your Iceman with 3 Magic Missile globals for 6 damage? I take 6 damage, and so do you. You field a Norman Osborn with 9 villains on the board, plus Norman, for 10 damage? You’re taking that same 10 damage. Your opponent will have to find a way to remove SP//dr from the field or ignore his text, in order to continue damaging you. Of course, there are myriad of ways that one can remove or ignore card text (Shriek: Sonic Beam; Intimidate; Parasite: Human Atomic Furnace, just to name a few), but it’s resources that your opponent will be spending to shut down SP//dr, instead of working on their own win condition.
What else can it do?
The second While Active ability is a bit trickier to explain. I spoke to the brain trust here at DM North as well as rules guru, pk2317, to make sure I had it right. “When you are dealt damage, cancel any active effects of previously used Action dice.”
This is a neat ability. Let’s break it down. The first thing you need is for our SP//dr to be active. Let’s check that off our list. Next, there needs to be an Action die that is providing a Persistent effect. A Persistent effect is defined in the X-Men Forever (XMF) Dice Masters Rule Book, page 24 as: These will generally affect a future game state—for example, they may affect who must or may not attack/block, or what may be done on your opponent’s next turn. These effects will specify how long they last, if otherwise unstated then they will end during the Cleanup Step. Finally, you need to take damage (to your life bar). There are many ways that can happen. Your opponent can attack and you chose not to block; you can force something to attack and not block; you could buy your opponent’s Magic Missile and hit yourself with it; just a couple of examples off the top of my head.
Now that we know HOW the effect works, what can it protect against? The first thing that came to my mind in Green Devil Mask: Lesser Trap. This card is everywhere, because it prevents your opponent from building walls of characters. It creates a Persistent effect that triggers when your opponent has 4 or more active character dice. If you take damage while our SP//dr is active, this effect would be cancelled, and the Trap would be moved to the used pile. In fact, our SP//dr would cancel the effect of most Traps that I had a chance to review, as all the ones I reviewed create a Persistent effect that ends at a set time (when something happens in a future game state). This would also applies to many Actions that have the “Continuous” keyword, or something like all three versions of Nova Corps Uniform.
Keep in mind that if your opponent is running an action die with a Persistent effect, your opponent may also be doing everything in their power to prevent you from taking damage until SP//dr is dealt with, in order to ensure the Action Die is not removed from play. If you expect to be playing against an Action like that, or are planning to run SP//dr, you will need consider how you could take damage yourself when building your team.
This has all the hallmarks of a janky combo, with several moving parts, which means it’s probably lots of fun to play, but it could be a challenge to get all parts of it going.
Firstly, as part of the 2nd While Active ability, it does not specify “opposing”, “single”, or “target”; it says ACTION DICE. That implies it will cancel ALL of the dice that are currently providing a Persistent effect – even ones you yourself have in play.
Secondly, this is a 5 cost character. It seems that many of the cool control cards are just that much more expensive than their high damage/win-con type counterparts. Granted, it is easier to reach a 5 cost character these days, with the Clayface: Restless Global Ability, and the Kree Captain Global Ability (all 3 Kree Captains have the same Global), but it means you need to build that purchase insurance into your team, whereas your main win-cons seem to be 2-4 costs and may not need that type of purchase power.
Consider this a plea to Wizkids from me: Please give us some lower cost control cards!
We’ll wrap up there for this week.
What cards do you think will be present at Worlds? Will SP//dr make an appearance?
We’d love to hear from you, let us know your thoughts or questions in the comments.
And good luck to all those participating at Worlds in Memphis!