Format: Casual Golden Age (officially), Modern strongly recommended (and used by nearly everyone)
This week, as our local group continues to prepare for Nats, I decided not to play to win. I purposefully brought a weakened build to try to test a number of theories with one of my favorite cards from the Mighty Thor set. Let’s just say I ended up…
Getting Knocked Around
The Team: Absorbing Man, Take 2
This is actually my second attempt at an Absorbing Man team (you can see the results of the first build here), but the first time I tried him in Modern.
The centerpiece is, of course, Absorbing Man himself. This is the uncommon, which copies “When KO’d” effects.
I brought in two “When KO’d” effects (which was intended to be three; see below): Doop and Rocket Raccoon. Both serve as removal, and both are nasty when doubled by Absorbing Man.
By using Rocket, I was trying to see if going for a 3-cost that’s more limited could be better than a versatile 4-cost (R Human Outlander) Pro-tip: Rocket’s ability uses self-referential text, so Absorbing Man would look at his own A when using his copy of the effect.
I want to quickly elaborate on Doop. It’s not the first time I used him, but I want to emphasize: he’s awesome. When your opponent has the perfect turn lined up, capturing their win condition with Doop so they can’t win that turn is very disruptive and can, in the right situation, be very effective.
To trigger these effects, these characters must be KO’d, and to control when this happens, I need ways to do so reliably. I decided to experiment with SR Malekith and Tomb Guardian. Malekith (there solely for his global) is obviously a weaker version of Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and I wanted to see the level of impact he could have. However, I suspected multiple KO’s would be needed at times, so I knew I needed a Fabricate. I went for Tomb Guardian, because I also wanted to experiment with Tomb Guardian’s global tax.
For Firefly, this was intended to be the uncommon, which has a nice “When KO’d” effect that can do burn damage to my opponent…but I took the wrong card out of my binder. So I was stuck with the common. Mind you, it’s still a good card, and KO’ing him to re-field him still fits with the team somewhat. Still, I ran the math throughout the night on how much damage I could’ve run with the right card (turns out that it wouldn’t have made much difference, even with Absorbing Man active).
Resurrection serves for ramp, Shriek and Blob serve as blanking and control, and I put in Misdirection because I had no 2-cost dice anywhere else on the team.
With that said, on to the games!
I went up against Attune. I actually got my control set up pretty well. Using Doop to capture SR Yuan-ti (or even Blob to field a Blob’d character) is quite effective. Doubling the capture with Absorbing Man, and doubling Rocket’s removal, was making my opponent’s life quite difficult. However, I had an issue: while I was doing lots of control, I simply wasn’t doing enough damage. At some point, I just ran out of Fabricate dice and I was hardly any closer to winning. Doop chose that specific time not to roll. So I was Attune’d down to 0 shortly after. So I didn’t win. But I certainly annoyed my opponent!
I got the bye. Nothing to report.
For this game, I was up against C Yuan-ti and SR Jubilee, as well as R Sasquatch (so lots of offense, with easy to pivot strategies). This game was one that I could’ve won. I had a really big, nasty roll ready, with 2 Fireflies with Rockets, Shriek, and my opponent having a nearly empty board…and pretty much nothing rolled. Doop continued to be helpful, but he wasn’t enough to stem the tide and I was run over by unblockable Yuan-tis.
I was up against a Fixit team this time. This team’s actually based off of my build from the Two-team Takedown (slightly different). He has C Hulk as a secondary strategy, both Proton Cannon and Hellfire Club as ways to get Fixit to swing in, and just a fast, aggressive build. This game, my lack of speed became very apparent. Doop didn’t roll (he was my best hope), and I was Fixit’d for 40 damage on turn 6 or 7.
As you can tell, not a lot of things worked on this team. Have a seat, we’re going to be here a while:
-UC Absorbing Man “When KO’d” teams run into a major problem: fielding costs. Most goods “When KO’d” effects are on characters with potentially painful fielding costs (0-1-2 for Doop and Human Outlander, 1-1-2 for Firefly, etc.). I ended up tying up so many resources to re-field my characters that I couldn’t purchase additional ones. This had been masked in my previous build by Blue-Eyes’ awesome global (where my KO’s served to pay for my purchases), but trying to use this strategy in Modern, the fielding costs become a large, glaring issue.
-Using SR Malekith + Fabricate as a KO engine is inadequate in a “When KO’d” build. You pretty much always need multiple KO’s, meaning Malekith’s global is never enough (plus, you can’t really take advantage of the discount in this type of build). So since this is run as a control build, you can run out of Fabricate dice pretty easily. If I return to this, even in a casual build, Magic Missile goes in (along with R Chwinga), without a second thought.
-This type of build needs more ramp and churn than what I included. Magic Missile + R Chwinga helps (especially with Absorbing Man doubling the draws), but I’m not sure it’s enough to help me win due to the fielding costs (Doop sure loved his level 3 side tonight).
-The damage output was way, way too slow to be remotely competitive. Even with the right cards in there, I calculated that outside of that one roll in Game 3, I had no real chance at victory in any of the games. Setting up two dice, fielding both (plus any control pieces), and KO’ing one just to deal 4 damage is just not enough in this meta.
-Misdirection is fun (and the extra ramp from the burst effect is awesome), but if you don’t roll the action with enough energy, it becomes a waste way too often. It happened several times tonight, where a bad reroll meant Misdirection was a waste. Sad.
-Doop was the only real star in this. Your opponent can get around him by purchasing multiple dice, but he’s so funny and annoying to deal with.
-Tomb Guardian was disruptive while active, but he didn’t do much to help me win. It’s interesting though. I’ll probably prefer Stone Golem 90% of the time (better stats, effect that doesn’t hurt me), but the Guardian’s definitely a neat option to have, especially with its cheaper Fabricate cost.
So overall, my view: don’t bring UC Absorbing Man in a high level competition. I love him in casual settings, but from what I can tell, he’s just not good enough for the big time. With that said, if anyone can prove me wrong and make him work competitively, I will be glad to be proven wrong.