Well, it’s been a while since we updated the Essentials List, and while I’m not doing an official update yet, I wanted to do something special: why don’t we look at the cards we know about from The Dark Phoenix Saga Draft Packs, and try to figure out which ones would make the Essentials List?
And since it’s been so long since we got a new Dice Masters set, not only do you see what cards would make it, but I’ll also explain why I see these cards as possibly Essential.
-Just because a card makes this list, does not mean it’ll be in the official Essentials List once the set comes out. We don’t know what the rest of the set has in store. Who knows, maybe the other rarities of Master Mold are even more insane as the Super Rare (I doubt it).
-I’ll be basing myself off of officially revealed spoilers as of the date of this article.
-For a full list of currently-known spoilers, check out DM United’s list. Major kudos to those guys, who have been keeping on top of the spoiler train consistently.
-As usual, the standard I’m working off is semi-competitive to competitive. Not the top meta only, but this list is oriented towards the competitive players.
-For those who find it unclear, let me illustrate: if a card makes the list, I must have a legitimate strategic reason for including this card over (or alongside) others.
-I’ll start with basic actions, then do characters. In both cases, cards will be listed in alphabetical order.
And with all that said, let’s get to it!
We’ve seen this action before, twice. The action itself gives you some targeted removal, but Confront The Mighty is doing the same thing better nowadays. The real reason to include this is the global: you can completely skew some characters’ stats. Going up against Blob, Big E, or other D-heavy characters? One energy whittles their defense down to almost nothing. On the other hand, do you have characters with 6, 7A with only 2 or 3D? For one energy, they’re suddenly real hard to get rid of. It’s not for every team, but it’s solid in the right build.
Let me get this out of the way: this card is only useful against very specific matchups (e.g. Awaken). But in these matchups, it is brutally lethal. When you can’t spin up, Awaken straight up will not work at all. You functionally blank Nebula or The Atom as long as it’s out. And since it’s an action die, there is almost nothing your opponent can do to get it off the field, especially in Modern. If mask-based Awaken teams become too prominent, be prepared for this card making its presence felt.
Mutant Research Program
Ok, this one I’ll admit I’m not 100% sure where it will fit. Sure, a couple of characters with Founder are on this list, but is it enough to rely on two of them to be active to roll 3 dice? I mean…I hear that, but on the other hand, this is a 2-cost action that allows you to roll more dice. It’s a 2-cost Investigation if you have Spot on the field, which you can make relatively one-sided if you build your team right. Oh, and since it’s a 2-cost, it can be targeted with Supreme Intelligence’s global. I expect this card to find its way somewhere and cause mayhem.
This card is the total package. The action itself can give you removal (swap an opposing die), or it can give you the ability to set up your strategy faster (swap one of your own dice). If you never played with it, you should practice with it, even if you won’t run it; you want to be ready to play with and against that card. Oh, and let’s not forget the global. Energy Field is already relevant with Awaken (e.g. R Nebula), and with R Colossus (read on for more info), it’s about to get even more useful. This card is going to be a fixture in competitive play.
Here’s another brand new basic action. For this one, the action’s…okay, I guess? A bit of damage, possible 2-for-1 removal, especially when using the global beforehand. But the real star here is the global. Giving character dice the X-men or Brotherhood affiliations enables some seriously dirty shenanigans, especially with the return of the Teamwatch keyword. This is not the last you hear of this global.
Those five actions are pretty much it for now. Especially since I can’t read anything off of Making The Team or Explosion. If anyone has a readable version of either of these, please send it my way?
Yep, I have two versions of Beast here. First, the common. A 2-cost with Overcrush and decent fielding costs. His A may be low, but there are plenty of ways around that. Say hello to Parasite’s new best friend. And if you go outside of Modern, Cone of Cold is perfect for this guy.
And the rare? A cheap character that generates ramp every time he attacks, with low defense making him easy to get off the field. Remember that Teamwatch is coming back (more on that shortly), so you’ll want to field X-men characters regularly. Beast gives you good reasons to be aggressive, as his ramp means you’ll be seeing him again sooner rather than later if he’s not blocked. The purchase tax on the first die is sad, but with this effect, you should be running max dice anyway.
You knew this one was coming. I also included the AVX card for reference. This is the return of a classic ability which is still very playable in Global Escalation, a format where only the best win conditions stand out. Essentially, field a bunch of characters, sit back, and burn your opponent to death with pacifism.
Except that they actually made this new version stronger. The old Colossus triggered for each “character” (so having multiple dice of the same character didn’t help), this new one triggers per “character die”. (EDIT: Turns out I was wrong about the original. Per this ruling, the AVX version also triggered “per die”. Credit to “F**k Beholder” for the correction) Load up the field with Sylgars or other cheap dice, and watch your opponent squirm. Or, more realistically, build a team of mostly control and throw him in as the one card that’s an actual win condition. Alongside Hope Summers of course, so you can get that crazy ability for 3 energy instead of 6 (or get double the ability if you field Hope and Colossus together!). This is going to get silly in a hurry.
I’ll just come out and say it: I don’t think you’ll buy the character 90% of the time, no matter what version you bring. The rare is marginally better, but really, she’s here for that global. This is the return of Blue-Eyes White Dragon’s global, giving you KO’s on command alongside discounts, and so many shenanigans. I could write a whole article just on how much you can use that global. Another case where you’ll want to practice playing with and against it, because it’s going to be a competitive fixture, mark my words.
This card may not look exciting, but it’s a 2-cost with Deadly and excellent fielding costs. The “Max: 2” hurts, but it’s a defensive threat that can keep the opponent at bay without making you tie up too much energy to re-field her. Solid card.
Another terrific returning ability. This is the return of the Doomcaliber Knight global from the Yu-Gi-Oh! days. This global shuts down Static Field and the like, straight-up, do not pass go, do not collect $200. And you shut this down for all of your characters with one energy. But what’s interesting is that you can’t target your characters either, so if you rely on globals yourself, you won’t want to use him. This is going to lead to some very interesting team-building choices.
Oh, and why the rare instead of the uncommon? Because even though the uncommon has Overcrush, it costs 6. I prefer the cheaper purchase cost with great stats for the cost, because if ever I decide to purchase him, I doubt I’d randomly have 6 energy available. Plus, Gladiator’s global is inconsistent with one of the main competitive Overcrush strategies (you can’t use Jerry’s global), so Overcrush doesn’t add as much as it looks. That’s why I prefer the rare.
Heeeere’s Johnny! Johnny Storm, that is. This card is, as with several others, the return of a powerful ability from an old set (this time, the return of Human Torch: Johnny Storm from AVX). With the super rare Thor being one of the big competitive strategies, you could easily slot in Jubilee as a secondary strategy (for when Thor gets blanked or otherwise shut down).
And as a bonus this time, this ability’s on an X-men, meaning you can use Hope Summers to copy this card’s text and trigger the damage twice: once with Jubilee, once with Hope. This is about to get ridiculous.
Two very different cards to look at here. First, the common. We saw this global once before, on the old Teen Titans Robin promo. It gives you ramp and churn that you can only use when purchasing characters. What’s good here is that in the right matchup (e.g. against God Catcher or Attune-focused teams), this can be mostly one-sided. There’s some fun to be had, and it’s strong enough to be relevant, but I expect this one to be an 11th card in most teams to be honest.
But then we have the super rare. Another returning staple, this is the return of Jinzo. Except this time she costs 5 to purchase instead of 6. Don’t underestimate the pain of paying 2 life. This card is going to seriously hurt Becky Lynch teams that rely on both Jerry and Booker T’s globals. And what about mask control teams, that sometimes rely on crazy amounts of globals? (Static Field, Doctor Strange/Slingers, Clayface, Energy Field…) Or hey, your God Catcher? Pay 2 life per God Catcher action you field. Do not underestimate this card. It is going to hurt.
Every version of Magneto is good, I can’t deny it. They all have the Villainous Pact global, which is great ramp and churn that requires you to be careful on the order in which you do things. Can’t purchase with Becky Lynch’s global before using it! It’s always a good ability to have access to.
On to the character now. Seriously, all four are good enough to see some play. But the super rare is the best choice in my view; it’s Vigilante Justice on legs, which you can trigger easily thanks to the Radicalization and Dark Phoenix globals. It gives you removal you can trigger on your opponent’s turn before the attack step, and you can even use it to get rid of tokens! (take THAT Master Mold)
Alright, let’s also mention the rare: every time you field a Brotherhood character, spin an opposing character to energy. It can trigger repeatedly, and since you can give Magneto the X-men affiliation with Radicalization, he’s far more flexible than he first appears. That kind of removal is insanely powerful as well, so I see people considering both the rare and super rare versions based on their team build.
So let me get this straight. You field him, you get a 5/5. You attack, you get a 5/5. He gets KO’d, you get a 5/5. You sneeze, you get a 5/5. Generating tokens this big this easily is complete insanity. And tokens can be challenging to remove; if you rely on “spin” or “reroll” based removal (e.g. Spider-man, Pip the troll, Becky), that doesn’t work on tokens. You need KO effects or Intimidate.
So with that in mind, with how quickly he generates tokens, he’s just a one-card wrecking ball. Don’t be surprised if this becomes one of the big win conditions in Modern.
You know a character’s crazy strong when three different versions of him end up in the Essentials List. But Mister Sinister’s just that. First up, the uncommon. The character is worth using here: blanking all opposing characters on a “When fielded” ability was a very underestimated ability when it was on the 4-cost Shriek. And that global is intriguing; it only blanks the character’s text after they’ve attacked. It can neutralize Deadly, Overcrush and many other abilities, but it doesn’t stop “When attacks” abilities. This is the kind of card that will require some very cautious team-building to shine, but I can see it happening.
As for the rare and super rare, let me save you some time: both of these are on the list solely for their globals. Even though the super rare has a cool character ability, you will almost never buy him (because he doesn’t prevent damage to himself and he has very low D).
The rare’s global has been done before on Atlantis and S.T.A.R. Labs. But Mister Sinister allows you to spend 2 of any energy to field a sidekick from Used and prep another. Ramp globals for generic energy are always excellent for consistency, and this one gives you so much, it pretty much eliminates the possibility of “useless” rolls. Amazing global, expect to see a lot of him.
And the super rare…do I really need to say it? You can give Overcrush to any character die as a global, when Overcrush is a powerful keyword in Modern (especially with the Jerry + Booker T globals). You can literally give Overcrush to a 10/10 God Catcher token. Some will not want to give this ability to their opponents (understandably so!), but there’s no denying that in the right build, this global will be lethal.
If you’ve played competitive Modern since the start of 2020, you know why those two are here. If not, two words: God Catcher. That action is a competitive fixture right now, and there is nothing in the Modern meta right now that deals with Continuous actions (Trap actions like God Catcher are Continuous actions, per the Keywords page). Both of these cards try to fix that, and do it quite differently.
The common essentially turns using a Continuous action into a big gamble. First you have to roll the action (75% chance of success including the reroll), then you have to survive a 50/50 reroll due to Moira (bringing those odds down to 37.5%). That is a tremendous way to disrupt a strategy relying on Continuous actions. And with Moira being a 2-cost with good fielding costs, she’s very easy to slot in as a counter to God Catcher.
The rare is a different animal. She takes Continuous actions off the field when she’s fielded. But she also brings in two interesting aspects. First, she has Founder; I don’t see a viable competitive build you can do based on that keyword as of yet, but if that team happens, she’ll be a big part of it. Two, she gets Loyalty Counters when you field characters that cost 3 or more. Each one gives all of her dice +1/+1, and since those apparently work like Experience counters, they don’t go away when she leaves the field. So if you build your team right, those middling stats can eventually get interesting.
Whether you prefer the common or the rare will depend on your play style. The common Moira straight up prevents the action from hitting the field, but if your opponent can use removal during the Main Step, they can get around her. The rare, on the other hand, only stops the action when you field her after an action’s hit the field, so you run the risk of your opponent triggering God Catcher before you can remove it. But your opponent can’t remove the rare from the board before it can trigger (since she triggers when fielded). Both are valid strategic choices.
The uncommon is here for the first ability. She’s a 2-cost version of the OP Black Widow (or one might say, the return of OP Iron Fist with weaker stats). That ability is great to limit damage from character abilities, like the super rare Thor. In fact, user her alongside the OP Black Widow and you neutralize Thor’s damage entirely. She theoretically also has some potential for ramp with her “When KO’d” ability, but with her bad fielding costs (especially with her stats), I don’t expect people will rely on that too much (but don’t forget that ability exists!). And before I forget to mention it: she’s a 2-cost mask, which is in itself valuable in competitive play.
But let’s face it, the super rare is going to be far more popular. Take everything good I said about the rare Magneto earlier, and you can apply it here. And she’s a 3-cost! Who also has the Villain affiliation and can get the X-men affiliation with the Radicalization global. She can trigger removal repeatedly that spins to energy and just wreck opposing teams. Expect her to be one of the most powerful removal engines available in Modern when it’s all said and done. She is going to get ridiculous in a hurry.
Oh, and the super rare’s a 1-cost with Asuka, by the way…
That is probably my favourite card from a design standpoint. It’s a complete package. First, she’s a 2-cost mask; cheap mask energy is always valuable in competitive play. Then, you have good fielding costs and a powerful “When fielded” ability that gives Overcrush to anything. Even a God Catcher. And to balance it out, Wizkids made it a max 2, which is brilliant in my opinion. She’s a great card without being an “auto-include” in every team.
Some may prefer using Mister Sinister’s global, but with Psylocke, you’re not giving this ability to your opponent. Keep an eye on this one; it’s pretty good.
Well, look at this. Two strong abilities that make Brotherhood into a legitimate threat. He makes Brotherhood characters bigger, AND he gives you ways to completely bypass blockers. If Brotherhood becomes relevant in competitive play, he will be a very big reason.
And the best part? This guy’s amazing with the Radicalization global. Give him the X-men affiliation, and his Teamwatch can trigger off of fielding X-men. Or give Brotherhood to some of your other characters and he makes them bigger when he attacks. Really solid card all around.
Before anyone balks at the 7-cost, note: this is an X-men character. So just copy the card text with Hope Summers and you get that ability on a 3-cost.
This is all sorts of removal. Field her, reroll a character, attack with her, reroll 2 characters (and get some damage to boot!). Land on double energy, and you get to reroll a character. She’s always useful.
We actually need a ruling on this card. The way it’s worded, it’s not entirely clear if the damage from sending dice to used triggers for all abilities or, say, only on the “When attacks” portion of the card. But either way, this card is nuts.
Oh, and with Hope Summers, as opposite to other X-men characters you may want to use her with, Storm triggers per die, so if you buy up 4 Hope Summers dice, you can cause some real chaos in there. I don’t know if this will be the preferred target for Hope Summers, but don’t sleep on this one.
As you can probably guess, he’s only here for the global. Taunt globals like this are very relevant in competitive play, and the only fist-based global like this in Modern is a “Once per turn”. It stands to reason that Vulcan is a straight upgrade in that regard. Hopefully the other versions have something else on top of the global.
Hey, look at that, it’s a card we spoiled! (thanks again for that Wizkids!) Wolverine brings a reprint of the Atlas global. While Atlas is still Modern-legal, I suspect this will change the next time Wizkids does a rotation. And in the meantime, Wolverine gives you a good reason to choose him over Atlas: great offensive stats for a good purchase cost. Plus, he has built-in shenanigans to give him better stats and give sidekicks Deadly. Bring him for the global, but keep the character in mind, as he’ll be a good backup plan.
Holy moly. 30 cards on the list and we still have a lot of cards unspoiled. This set is going to shake things up dramatically.
So, do you agree with my list? Am I missing some obscenely powerful card that will break the meta? Or do you think I was too generous with my inclusions? Do you think I should stick with this type of format in the Essentials List in the future? Sound off in the comments below. In the meantime, let’s keep on rolling.