After a couple of weeks where I tested out D&D cards that were more competitively-oriented, I figured I’d go for the shenanigans this time around. Thing is, I didn’t choose the nicest of cards to build with. After running this, I have a feeling there’ll be…
Grell To Pay
The Team: KO my stuff. I dare you.
Format: Casual Golden Age (Modern recommended)
For this one, I built around the ramp engine first. I wanted to use Grell with Absorbing Man. I’ve always enjoyed fun “When KO’d” effects, and this one caught my eye quickly. I’d previously used the rare Chwinga, but always had to use Magic Missile to trigger its effect. Grell doesn’t have that restriction; I can Fabricate two of them out and, with Absorbing Man active, Grell’s effect will happen four times. Which means I will end up with four dice in Prep, always getting the chance to choose the best of two options. This churns through the bag real quick.
Yawning Portal is the third piece in this engine. After all, I want to re-field Grell each turn, ideally. Yawning Portal makes this fielding free, and allows me to buy more dice for cheap, which get added to my bag. Making them easy to get thanks to Grell’s effect.
The longer this engine runs, obviously, the crazier it gets.
With Absorbing Man around, I want to build around other “When KO’d” effects. I gave Doop a break for once, and went for three fun pieces of removal: Wolverine, Human Outlander, and Harley Quinn. I didn’t feel like running Shriek or Scarlet Witch, so I knew I needed multiple removal options to make it hard to decide what to Shriek. Harley’s the complete chaos option (triggering her twice with Absorbing Man? Yes please!). Wolverine’s the steady and consistent removal (remember that Absorbing Man’s copy only deals Absorbing Man’s own attack though). Human Outlander adds the option of hitting the opponent directly, which is quite welcome (4 dice per KO’d Outlander with Absorbing Man active).
Note: all three of these cost 4 or more, with nasty fielding costs on both Wolverine and the Outlander, but I figured the Portal’s discount and free fielding effects would negate that disadvantage.
None of these “When KO’d” effects can do much unless I can KO my own characters. Stone Golem is here for its Fabricate effect, which combines free dice with self-KO. Confront The Mighty serves to combine self-KO effects with removal.
And finally, there’s Nihiloor. The fact that its global can be triggered on my opponent’s turn is key. Using Wolverine or Harley Quinn’s effect just before my opponent’s attack step can really mess up their plans and set up a turn when I could attack in an empty field. And the rest of the time, using this to KO Grell gets the whole ramp and churn engine going.
The final card in this team is Excessive Force, strictly for its global. With my cheapest dice being bolts, this seemed like an easy way to get the last few points of damage in. Not much more to say here.
And with all that said, on to the games!
I started off against a Warriors Three team. That also was using the same Grell, but didn’t have Absorbing Man. Seeing as Absorbing Man copies opposing “When KO’d” effects, I would’ve ramped with his Grells, so he avoided using them. I went for my own Grells though, and did they ever work. Despite Wolverine refusing to roll for several turns (hey, gave me time to buy more dice!), I managed to get a ludicrous amount of stuff on the board before he could buy more than 1 of the Warriors Three. And I didn’t allow him to keep many characters on his field, even KO’ing Harley Quinn on his turn twice (once doubling the effect because Absorbing Man survived the first roll!). He simply had no answer to this insane ramp engine and to my numerous forms of removal. Eventually, after wearing him down with a few Human Outlander triggers, I managed to get enough damage on the board to swing in for the win.
Next up, I faced off against Iceman. He went for his control pieces immediately, notably Green Devil Mask. That is obviously this team’s biggest weakness, as I had to tiptoe around it all game. I did run into it once, lost most of my characters, but then Grell allowed me to churn through most of my bag that turn. I kept forcing him into bad choices with his Shriek though; when he fielded her, he had to leave my ramp alone, because he was staring down an 8A Wolverine that could’ve KO’d his Iceman (and then some). He also never got the chance to get too many bolts for Iceman because of constantly having to invest in control pieces.
I was helped by the fact that the Portal made my stuff so cheap. I need another Outlander? 1 bolt and it’s in the bag. And it’s immediately Prep’d that same turn with Grell. A second Wolverine for 2 energy? Yes please. That advantage built up over the course of the game, to a point where my number of dice was just ludicrous. We’d been wearing each other down, and he gambled that I couldn’t deal 12 damage to him with his GDM active and him having 2 blockers. He was wrong; I fielded and immediately KO’d Outlanders to remove his blockers. Then, I fielded a Wolverine, I pumped him up with bolts (thanks Excessive Force!) and swung into an empty field. My toughest game of the night (darn Green Devil Mask!), but it worked out in the end.
I finished the evening against a team combining Manshoon and Seething Corruption (if you haven’t heard of that combo, check out DMArmada’s video on it). I wasn’t a good matchup for her. Her whole strategy is to KO my stuff…which is exactly what I want. The Yawning Portal shenanigans were in full effect here. To make her choices difficult, I bought more, and more, and more dice of all sorts. By the end, I’d bought 19 dice(!). Yes, really. I even bought Nihiloor for 1 energy; that’s how silly it got. By the end, I needed 20 damage, and didn’t get to field for free because Yawning Portal didn’t roll. I needed 9 energy to field everything, but I was rolling so many dice that I managed to field my stuff anyway. With a crap ton of characters, I used Wolverine+Absorbing Man to empty her field, and swung in for 30 damage. I won. It was gross.
I took the bye for the last round in order to avoid messing up matchups.
-Grell and Absorbing Man is just a gross ramp engine; one Fabricate leads to a lot of ramp. I am quite impressed. But let’s be honest: without the Portal, Wolverine and Human Outlander would’ve eaten up any spare energy with their fielding costs. That Portal is a must in this build.
-Harley Quinn, with Absorbing Man, can get quite hilarious, but it’s not especially efficient. Human Outlander was consistently a better 4-cost to purchase, and Wolverine was the better removal option.
-Speaking of Wolverine, I should’ve brought more of his dice. Because of the portal, I could’ve bought 3-4 of his dice every game, easily.
-One thing to keep in mind: this is not especially fun to play against, as it’s pretty much a control team. I spend a ton of time ramping with Grell, then I hold a mask to use Nihiloor’s global to KO all of your stuff with my Wolverine or Harley before your attack step. Then, I field more stuff on the following turn and hope to have enough damage to deal 20. So you just stall until you win. I got repeatedly glared at by my opponents, and I don’t blame them.
-One card I simply could not fit in was Gazer: Beholder’s Dream. Sending stuff from my opponent’s Prep straight to the Used Pile would’ve been so, so darn mean. Seeing how the team was already nasty enough, I think it’s probably for the best that this guy stayed out.
So overall, I like this team. I like it a fair bit. Until Absorbing Man rotates out of Modern, you can be sure I’ll look for fun “When KO’d” shenanigans to mess around with. But maybe I’ll give these shenanigans a bit of a rest for a few weeks. THEN I’ll bring out Gazer, and we’ll see how that ends up.