I did something pretty crazy this week. I played a Sinister Six team – during an Open Constructed event.
What Did You Play?
The Team: Sinister Six.
The previous week had turned into something of an unofficial “Bad Affiliations” week. Also, I’d been matched up with a player who was imposing the prior week’s jank rules on himself.
I knew that player wouldn’t be able to make it to this week’s event, so I decided to do the one week behind thing and run a truly terrible affiliation (as opposed to, e.g. Defenders, which proved to be more “slow starting” than truly “bad”).
For anyone who needs a reminder on how bad the Sinister Six is as an affiliation, their purchase costs are crazy expensive, most of their abilities verge on uselessness, and they have zero synergy. I couldn’t use the best card (the Uncommon Vulture) because I needed to use common so I’d have one character on the team with a purchase cost below 4. Common Sandman went on the team, so I’d have one other character with a purchase cost less than 5.
Of course, Vulture and Sandman are both fist characters. For the other energy types, my cheapest available characters cost at least 5.
So, which specific cards did I end up using? Vulture: Fear From Above has a usable ability, but I wouldn’t call it a win condition.
Common Sandman’s ability is basically Aftershock – You may pay 1 to give Sandman Regenerate. Electro’s Common card is a 5-cost blank – and still looked like the best version of Electro to me.
Next, we have Kraven the Hunter. His common has an ability that only affects Spider-Friends, his Rare is a 7-cost with a so-so ability, so I went with the uncommon, seen here:
So, I can buff his A, which doesn’t mean that much, if I don’t have some means to prevent him from being chump blocked.
Doctor Octopus: 8 Dangers has a strong ability, if perhaps not as strong as it sounds before you finish reading his text and realize all it really means is your opponent has to pay 2 life to block with anybody when Doctor Octopus attacks.
Mysterio went on the team for the global, double sided though it may be. I expected to need some ramp to purchase characters, and it didn’t look to be coming from my character abilities. You can argue that Mysterio’s character ability counts as ramp, but he’s a 6-cost, so I need other ramp to get to him.
I wanted to use BACs that were at least remotely thematic, because I hadn’t hamstrung myself enough already just by the choice of affiliation. Which made it difficult to use a BAC for ramp, because I didn’t see any thematic options there.
There was, however, a very thematic BAC I could use as a win condition. Exposed! is a great, if under-utilized BAC for Villain teams, and the artwork on it is of S6 member Doctor Octopus.
The action ability forces an ability to pay life to block with each and every non-Villain, essentially putting my opponents on a clock unless they are also running Villains.
For the other BAC, I went with Counterstrike. A prep global, and the action might allow me to get characters out in the field more quickly.
For completeness sake, I will mention the other two character slots were left vacant, this being the Sinister Six, after all. I’d have considered non-basic actions, if I could have found any I considered thematic. The closest was Goblin Glider, and the Green Goblin isn’t a S6 member.
So, having set myself up to fail by choosing to run a team based around this abysmal affiliation, how badly would I be crushed when I played actual games?
Apparently, it’s possible to win with a Sinister Six team.
Tabaxi Rogue, Instant War, and Falcon: Recon for unblockable Sidekicks. A re-run of a team the same opponent had played against me the week before.
Of course, the week before, I hadn’t brought the Mysterio global for him to use with Tabaxi.
I actually got my opponent down to 4 life, largely due to a buffed to 8A Kraven my opponent declined to block.
Of course, the reason he didn’t bother blocking was because he knew he had lethal on his next turn. I was at 4 life, he had a Tabaxi in his field, he knew he was going to draw an Instant War. Tabaxi would deal me 3 damage when he used Instant War, and he had his choice of the Tabaxi Rogue and Mysterio globals to get the last point.
Purple Worm and Swarm characters. He was using Candlekeep as one of his BACs, and I managed to get two of them early.
The only character I bought all game was Vulture, the rest of my purchases being Basic Action Dice.
The first time I fielded a Vulture die, he had only a 1D Kobold in the field, so Vulture KO’d it with his ability, then went through his empty field for 5 damage as it was on Level 3. That brought him down to 13, because I’d used his Red Dragon global when I bought the Candlekeep dice.
Vulture’s ability to effectively ping out Level 1 and 2 Kobolds complicated his ability to use Swarm, which meant he wasn’t able to get to Purple Worm quite as fast as he’d intended.
I used the time this bought me to buy a couple of Exposed! dice and started attacking whenever they came around to wear my opponent down.
He did manage to get a Purple Worm die out. When he attacked with it, I blocked with a couple of Vulture dice to get them out of my field, and hopefully make use of their ‘when fielded’ ability on my turn.
I only managed to re-roll one of them, but I also drew and rolled an Exposed! basic action die, and I already had his life total low enough that the action and the Exposed! global together with a couple of Sidekicks got me to lethal.
I really had not expected to end the night with a winning record, even with an assist from a bye.
My victory over a live opponent was largely due to a fortuitous matchup. Not only did my opponent bring a ramp BAC (Candlekeep) that proved very useful for me, I had a character (Vulture) whose ability made it unexpectedly awkward for him to use his Kobolds for Swarm.
That gave me time to wear him down by using Exposed!, and eventually I ran him out of life.
Maybe, the Sinister Six aren’t quite as bad as I always thought, although the most important card on the team is the Exposed! BAC rather than any of the S6 characters, and it can work with any Villain team.
Would I change anything about the team? I still think this is basically the best Sinister Six single affiliation team I can make. Record aside, I still don’t think it’s a good team, or one that would post a winning record over a long run.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Rolling!
Son of L