You may know I missed last week’s TOTM tournament. A shame, too, because I had a fun idea I wanted to try out. With the Manshoon + Seething Corruption combo seeing some play, I wanted to show that there were other versions to use. One, in particular, definitely deserves a…
The Team: Manshoon’s ready for a brawl.
Format: Casual Golden Age (Modern recommended)
Alright, so the base combo requires me to have Manshoon and Brawlwin Chainminer active. Note that Brawlwin not only has experience, she also has a secondary way to get Experience tokens. Anytime I KO a character (not just a Monster!) that is level 2 or higher, she gains an Experience token.
To get Brawlwin huge, I need some nasty removal. Enter Manshoon. If I use globals, I get to damage my opponent’s characters each time (nice!). Used with Staff of The Forgotten One, each global I use is a KO. I could even use Brawlwin’s own global to trigger Manshoon, that way I’m sure the character I KO is at least level 2. This should make Brawlwin beefy in a hurry. I decided to take this opportunity for a thought experiment: can I use enough globals for Manshoon’s ability to act as my primarily form of removal? (used with Staff where necessary)
Obviously, for Manshoon to trigger, I need to use globals, lots of them. I had already decided to steer clear of Magic Missile. Enter Mjolnir for its sidekick fixer, Clayface for its usual shenanigans, and Raised Shields to add some damage. Pay a bolt, add 1 damage to your attack, deal 1 damage to an opposing character. Not a bad deal!
Mjolnir also has a secondary use: if I’m up against the OP Black Widow, I need some way to get her off the field, and Mjolnir (the action this time) can easily accomplish this goal. Not to mention that Mjolnir combines well with Staff if they roll on the same turn (since Staff’s KO triggers will only happen after Mjolnir fully resolves!).
One weakness I identified quickly was that if Manshoon got blanked, I’d be very vulnerable. I threw in Volo and the common Yuan-ti Pureblood so that their Attune triggers, used with the Staff, could remove whatever control pieces are targeting my Manshoon and allow shenanigans to continue. They also serve another purpose: they’re cheap bolt dice that can be Clayface’d in to help my shenanigans. The fact that Yuan-ti is hard to block also acts as a secondary win condition if my removal is not working.
For the last two cards, I went for some utility pieces. Resurrection is there for its usual ramp and churn (and hey, one more Manshoon trigger!). Shriek is there as her usual blanking self, but to be honest, I had no intention of using her. She was there as a threat, to give my opponents something else to potentially target with their own Shriek. I really wanted to focus on the Manshoon shenanigans.
And with all of that said, on to the games!
I started off against an Obscure-focused build. My opponent made an unfortunate choice early game; stocking up on Monsters (Kuo-tua and Drow Mercenary), when my build is packed with Experience…yeah. She had not read my Manshoon, assuming I was using the one triggered by basic actions. By the time she saw what I was doing, it was too late. I pinged her stuff off with Manshoon at every opportunity, making him, Volo and Brawlwin stronger with experience tokens. Because she’d spent so much early game energy on monsters, she never had the chance to recover, and I eventually emptied her field and swung in for way too much damage. I won.
Next up, Iceman. I avoided going for Shriek (who was the theoretically correct play), in favour of going for Manshoon, to use his ability to ping off Iceman. At first, though, Manshoon didn’t roll, so I ended up taking a fair bit of damage. Manshoon’s shenanigans started, and he got Shrieked at first opportunity. I was determined not to use Shriek all evening, so I kept building up an offense (using unblockable Yuan-tis fueled by Raised Shields for damage), and on the turn where he should’ve been able to finish me off, I had saved up energy. I pinged off his Shriek, used Clayface and two Magic Missile globals (all of which triggered Manshoon) to weaken his Iceman before his attack step. I survived with 1 life left. I swung in for lethal the following turn. I won, but barely.
I finished off the evening against a Warriors Three team fueled by Yawning Portal, Grell and Absorbing Man. Apparently he liked my idea from last week. This was an interesting matchup. On the one hand, he got ramp from my Manshoon-fueled removal. On the other hand, I was putting experience counters on my characters every darn turn, so ramp or no ramp, I’m not that scared of your 5/5 Hogun if my level 1 Manshoon is now a 4/6. I kept thinning his field (I was using so many globals, including his own Magic Missile, that I could actually KO some of the Warriors Three without the Staff!) and waiting for an unlucky turn where he couldn’t reroll everything. When that turn eventually came, my adventurers were all huge. There were few characters left, so Manshoon made quick work of them. Then, my Brawlwins dealt 7 damage each, and Manshoon and Volo were also beatsticks by that point (despite having a printed attack of 0). I dealt way too much damage and won.
-That Manshoon is nuts. Just nuts. When he was first spoiled, people thought that he’d primarily be good to deal more damage with Magic Missile. But I disagree. Think about it: how many globals do you use in a turn? I didn’t have to get out of my way that much. Fixer global (e.g. Mjolnir), then Clayface, then Raised Shields x3, then Resurrection. With no separate energy investment, using one fielded sidekick and two other dice in my Reserve Pool, my Manshoon just allowed me to deal 6 damage, divided as I want, to opposing characters, all the while I’m ramping, buffing my characters, etc. This type of removal gets ridiculous in a hurry. No real need for Magic Missile. This is crazier than Dreadnaught in the right build.
-Brawlwin Chainminer is surprising. Gaining Experience tokens without having to KO Monsters is really neat, and can really get out of control in the right context. However, it takes a fair amount of time to get Brawlwin to deal serious damage, so I think she’ll remain a more casual, but very fun, card.
-One important disclaimer: I was helped tremendously by the fact that most of my opponents were running Monsters (hey, they were trying the new D&D stuff, after all). In a typical constructed setting, I shouldn’t have a 4/6 Manshoon swinging in, or a 4/5 Volo. But it happened.
So overall, this was a lot of fun, and quite eye-opening. That Manshoon is far better than I originally realized, and I think he could be genuinely competitively relevant after rotation.