Format: Casual Golden Age (No Bard, Thief or Oracle; you know which ones)
For a while, I had no idea what to build. Then, I decided to see if I could make SR Valindra Shadowmantle work. We all knew one guy was bringing his big Ultraman team, so I knew it would have to be strong to stand a chance, so I let loose a little bit. And in brewing this, I might have stumbled on to something here.
The Team: Valindra’s Teachings
The core combo involves using Valindra Shadowmantle with the globals of Archnemesis! and Splinter’s Teachings. The way it works is as follows: with Valindra active, and a sidekick on my side of the board, I use Splinter’s Teachings to give an opposing character my sidekick’s 1A (that becomes 0 due to Valindra). I then use Archnemesis’ global to bring the opposing character’s D to 0 as well, KO’ing it. So long as the character isn’t a D&D character with the Evil alignment (and even then, there’s a way around it; see the post-mortem), I can KO anything.
Now, to use those globals without paying energy, I went for the FUS Beholder. Enough’s been said about this guy: free globals, fantastic fielding costs, insane stats, and core of last year’s Canadian Nationals winner (in a clash of BFF Beholder vs FUS Beholder, no less!). The fact that he never made it in Modern is a crying shame.
With Beholder in there, the ramp engine was easy to pick: R Blue-Eyes and Chalkboard. Field Beholder, use both for free, then you Prep your first purchase and pay less for it (with the option of using Blue-Eyes on Beholder to re-field him next turn and get a bigger discount!)
Since I was using Archnemesis, I went for a fun backup plan: R Surtur. If you use Archnemesis’ action to get Surtur to KO an opposing die, you KO everything your opponent has. Easy to miss with the rest of the insanity on this team, but he can hurt a fair bit.
Nick Fury was there to give me a 2-cost Shield that wasn’t Hellblazer (didn’t want to make my team overkill. I otherwise failed miserably at that, I know). Shriek served for blanking, and Wrecker was there to give me a way to dispose of control pieces (both with the character and the global) if I’d run into teams with multiple blankers.
With that said, on to the games!
This game, against C Hulk + Babs. This one was ugly for him, perfect for me. I got Beholder early, used him for free Blue-Eyes + Chalkboard, then used Blue-Eyes on Beholder, paid 2 for Valindra, did the same next turn with one extra energy for Surtur…He had the time to get one character on the board, namely Hulk. With Valindra and a sidekick (plus Beholder and Surtur) active, I did the Archemesis + Teachings trick, and bye-bye Hulk, hello a 6A sidekick, and I swung in for the win. Immediately, I realized that this team was a BIT crazy.
Game 2, I was up against Ultraman + Boom Boom. I got Valindra on the board early, and prevented him from keeping anything on the board. He had Hellblazer to counter Beholder, but he made the mistake of calling Beholder when I had Shriek coming up, so Shriek took care of Hellblazer. I was also forcing him to re-field his Boom Booms constantly with Nemesis + Splinter’s Teachings, which really hurt his pace. This meant he didn’t get Ultraman until really late in the game. Meanwhile, I just kept Beholder-ing away to ramp and remove stuff, and on the turn before he could finally field Ultraman, I KO’d his board with the Valindra + Archnemesis + Teachings shenanigans and swung in for lethal.
This game, I was up against the Wolverine team, but this time, the sneaky guy added One Against Many as a backup win condition. And since he used C Cosmic Cube for churn, he got it back constantly. He was also using Blind Al for defense (the one that pings the opponent when she takes combat damage). That turned out to be a really rough game. I was at 4 life, he was one turn away from winning, and he had a 2/6 Blind Al (1/5 due to Valindra) on the board while I had no sidekicks for my shenanigans. However, I had a Beholder, and he had the Cable global, so I used Archnemesis + Cable’s globals (in that order!) with Beholder to KO Blind Al, and I had exactly 14 damage for lethal. That was a tough one, as I underestimated how crazy One Against Many + C Cosmic Cube can be. Hats off to him for putting that together.
-What have I built here? Valindra is a lot scarier than I gave her credit for. The fact that she, Archnemesis and Splinter’s Teachings will all be legal after rotation…with enough ramp, this could be the core of a scary Modern control team.
-Using Valindra with Blue-Eyes is dirty pool. Your opponents don’t have sidekicks to KO, so it makes it almost entirely one-sided.
-That Beholder was the core of so many shenanigans. It will be missed once it rotates.
-Looking back, I should’ve used Felicity Smoak instead of Nick Fury; she has 1A on every side, which would’ve allowed me to use Splinter’s Teachings when my sidekicks wouldn’t roll.
-If I do this again, I’ll definitely use C Xandala Cimber’s global to remove alignments, in case I run into any Evil characters (Yuan-ti, Tabaxi Rogue…) that would stop my shenanigans.
This is absolutely a concept I will revisit in the new Modern. Keep in mind: Beholder, Blue-Eyes and Chalkboard is all that’s rotating out of this entire team. There’s definitely a way to make this work. But this is not something for casual fun events.