Rare Stick from the Guardian of the Galaxy set has an interesting ability that has been on my “see if I can make it work” list for a while now. I had to tweak the build I originally had in mind, because this week our group was limiting ourselves to cards we’d never used before.
What Did You Play?
The Team: First Time Team.
To clarify, each player was using 10 cards they themselves had never used before (as opposed to nobody using any card any player in the group had used before).
Now, Stick’s ability is a very narrow exception to the ‘once blocked, always blocked’ rule – if the damage from Stick’s ability KO’s a would-be blocker, the ‘Stick is now blocked’ effect is cancelled – for that die, at least. Can that be made into a win condition?
Any prospective blockers are going to need at least 3D to do any good for my opponents – or to be precise, at least 3 remaining D. Sidekicks won’t be able to block him (unless my opponent has some means to buff their D), so I need some means to either damage character dice so they can’t effectively block Stick, or prevent them from blocking altogether.
Enter Blue Dragon: Apprentice Dragon. If I can use Breath Weapon 1, Stick can’t be stopped by anything with a D of 3 or less, and if I use an action die’s ability I can prevent another die from blocking.
Next, I added the SR Black Canary from the original Justice League set. She has a ‘when attacks’ ability that allows you to pay a bolt to prevent a target character (die) from blocking.
My original idea for the team included Rare Mjolnir from the Mighty Thor set, for its ability, not the fixer global. However, I’ve used it previously so it was unavailable for the format. I replaced it with Rolling Thunder, a 5-cost BAC from Warhammer with the same ability.
The idea, of course, was to either KO something that might potentially block Stick, or inflict enough damage that if they do (try to) block Stick, it won’t stick. (Sorry, had to do that at least once.)
I felt some ramp might be useful, but that meant I had to come up with a ramp method I’d never used before. With a 4-cost Blue Dragon already on the team, I threw in the Rare Elf Druid who allows you to prep a die when a dragon is fielded, and the blank 3-cost Baby Dragon from YGO.
Next, came Primaris Reiver: Rapid Infiltrator. A cheap bolt whose ability synergized with Rolling Thunder, so I could make it even more difficult for my opponent to find something to perma-block Stick with. Or, if his dice came up energy, I could use it to pay for Black Canary’s ability.
Rare Dragon Statue Trap is triggered when my opponent attacks, and allows me to roll all Dragon dice in my Used Pile and field any that come up character faces for free. Since I was running multiple Dragons, I opted to include this trap die.
The last character on the team was the common Angela from the GOTG set. She prevents my opponent’s ‘when attacks’ abilities from dealing any damage. A bit of protection I’d never used before.
For my second BAC, I went with ‘Might of the Astartes’ from Warhammer. It increases opposing fielding costs for a turn, and on burst or double burst reduces my own for the same time frame.
On to the games.
Unicorn buffed Blink Dogs backed by a couple of dragons and a Half-Elf Bard.
I went for Might of the Astartes first, then Elf Druid and some Baby Dragons to set up some ramp. I took too long to buy characters to attack with, and pretty much spent the entire game on the defensive.
He wasn’t getting very much through, but he was still doing more damage than I was. Before I ever bought any Stick dice, he had enough big bodies in his field to make it doubtful I’d be able to work any Stick dice through for damage.
Rolling Thunder might have been able to help with that, if I could have gotten it to land, which I never did. We went to time, but I was just holding on for most of the game, trying to think of a way to get out of the situation I’d found myself in. I never did.
Justice League, Pick Your Battles, and Jimmy Olsen so he could buy and field his Superman dice.
I bought two Might of the Astartes dice early, then bought a Stick. He got one Superman die out fairly quickly, but with assists from Black Canary and Blue Dragon, I got in a couple of hits with Level 3 Sticks for a total of 12 damage.
Eventually he got a second Superman die out, and rolled a Pick Your Battles. As I had no shield characters on the team, much less in the field, that proved to be that.
This was a real Tunnel Vision game for me. He was running Green Lantern: Human (aka the new Lantern Ring) and it never occurred to me to buy Angela to shut him down. Also, I could have used his Pick Your Battles dice to my advantage, as I had several bolt characters while he only had Hawkman. And I had other ways of preventing Hawkman dice from blocking.
Foetid Bloat-Drone and Grey Hunter, both having the Deadly keyword.
I hit him with a Stick for 5 through an empty field. then used his ability to get him through twice more.
Stick laughed at his 2D Grey Hunters and their Deadly keyword, since KOs from Deadly happen at the end of the turn – i.e. after the Attack Step. So they were unable to prevent Stick from dealing his damage.
My opponent only managed to get one high D die into the field the entire game – a Foetid Bloat-Drone.
Blue Dragon has to attack to use breath weapon, and Black Canary has to attack to use her own ‘that die can’t block’ ability, where they could be KO’d by the opponent’s characters with Deadly.
So I got my opponent down to 3 life, leaving myself with a thin field, but still a high life total. From that point it was just get Stick back in the field with either
- A Black Canary and a bolt, or
- A Blue Dragon and an action die on the action face
before my opponent could come up with a way to retrieve the situation.
It took a couple of bag cycles, as I seemed to miss a lot of rolls, but eventually I got the dragon and the action, and victory was mine.
I may still run my original Stick build at some point. Rolling Thunder was not an adequate substitute for Mjolnir – a 5-cost for a 3-cost is a big difference. But Stick did prove to have a fairly usable ability.
My Stick dice did show a pronounced tendency to come out on Level 3 on this day, something I probably shouldn’t rely on them doing over the long haul.
‘Might of the Astartes’ was, in retrospect, not a great choice of BAC for this team. I wound up buying two dice from it early in each of my games, not so much because I wanted to disrupt my opponent, but because I didn’t want my opponent using them on me. I think I would have been better off with something that didn’t distract from going straight to purchasing Stick dice.
Elf Druid dragon ramp is decidedly mediocre. Elf Druid costs 3, the cheapest dragons in the game are YGO Baby Dragons which cost 3. Given the amount of investment required to get it going, the return is probably not going to be worth it.
I got Dragon Statue Trap to fire once on the night. There were 5 Dragon dice in my Used Pile at the time, so that was fun (I only rolled two character faces). Still, it doesn’t really synergize with Blue Dragon.
Blue Dragon’s text reads ‘when you use an action die’s ability’, not ‘when you use an action die’. We interpreted that to mean when a trap triggers, as opposed to when it is placed in the Field Zone. So Blue Dragon is not going to be able to use the triggering of a Dragon Statue Trap to prevent an opposing character die from blocking, since the trigger happens on the wrong player’s turn.
If I’d realized that ahead of time, I might well have removed Dragon Statue Trap from the team.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Rolling
Son of L