Alright, now what do we have here? This week was a bit of a slower week, so I figured I’d try several cards that are different levels of jank around a strong win condition (Iceman). And let me tell you; one of these apparently janky cards worked quite well…
What A Rush
The Team: A good team to chill out with.
Format: Casual Golden Age (Modern recommended)
I can already see a lot of you going, “wait, Iceman? That’s a bit mean, isn’t it?” You’re not wrong, but this is far, far from how you’d want to run him. I was using him, yes, but with a very different engine. I put Iceman so that he can hurt my opponent when he takes damage. But the intent is to use Black Swan and Turk Barrett. I attack with Black Swan, reroll a bunch of bolt characters (herself included) in the hopes of getting double-bolt results, triggering Turk, then hitting Iceman, who in turns hurts my opponent. Yes, it’s convoluted. But at this point, why not?
For this to work, I need a lot of bolt characters, more than would be reasonable by any stretch. I put Grell in as a 2-cost bolt character, and I put in Yawning Portal, who makes it easier to buy characters in bulk. And then, I threw in Gamora. If everything I have is a bolt, and I will load my bag with them, hopefully she can trigger a few times and give me some ramp.
Ok, so I have a functional core strategy, but I need tons of utility to help it work. Walk With Elias gives early ramp, Intellect Devourer helps me get bolts consistently (especially early game), Angela helps shut down Pip, Drax, and other control pieces as usual, and Wand gives me something to do with all of those bolts I should get with the whole Black Swan shenanigans.
Now, I did fear Wand might be a bit of a crutch, but it’s a crutch that comes with a severe drawback. Paying 1 life per energy hurt, but it’s the best option available.
And with all of that said, on to the games!
I started off against an 8-cost Thanos team relying on Pip The Troll and Dreadnaught for removal. This game went weird. I would get Turk on the field, but no Black Swan. Then I’d get Black Swan, but no Turk. Or I’d get Iceman with neither active. Thankfully, while he got to buy Thanos quickly, Thanos wouldn’t roll for him. I took advantage and attacked with what I had active, hesitating to hold any character back because of Pip. Thankfully, while I bought tons of dice, Gamora (bought 2 of her) kept things flowing and I churned reliably, rolling way more dice than reasonable on a couple of occasions. In the end, even when your main strategy doesn’t fire off, when you roll tons of character dice, you’ll find a way to win. And that’s what happened here; I kept up the pressure and won with numbers.
Next up, I went up against a control-a-thon of Drax, Spidey, Pip, R Dr Strange…the works. I went with an early Yawning Portal, fielded a couple of characters and went to town buying way too many things, setting off Gamora’s rush to draw obscene amounts of dice. While my opponent had a strong engine, with Parasite-fueled Spideys charging in, I had enough blockers to keep him at bay. What’s one character spun to energy when I regularly draw 6+ dice per turn thanks to Gamora? I simply had the advantage of numbers, and it played in my favour in the end. When Iceman hit the field, he made the difference; we both had characters on the board, so burn was the best way to get damage through. He had no answer other than to spin stuff to energy with Spidey…that I then drew back in one or two turns because of Gamora’s ramp. I outpaced him and won.
I finished off the evening against a thematic D&D team focusing on Obscure as a win condition. That was interesting, because it meant I couldn’t rely on Grell too much, otherwise her adventurers might get stronger. By this game, I was well-aware that throwing caution to the wind and buying everything was the best way to win with this. So I did. And I would roll way too many dice. And finally, this game, I got to fire off the whole Turk + Black Swan engine and hit Iceman with it…exactly once. But I had bolts left from it, which were used to pay for the Wand global. I won the following turn by KO’ing my opponent’s stuff with Turk’s ability + Wand’s global and charging into an empty field. Wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
-Ok, so the whole Turk and Black Swan combo didn’t fire off too often. Too many pieces needed to be on the board at the same time, and with how much removal we have to deal with, I should’ve expected that.
-Despite the combo not firing off too much, Turk still held his own. That ability, on a 3-cost, is not too shabby. But he only deals 1 damage each time he triggers. If you use it to hurt your opponent, it is slower than other available options, and since he must be active when dice is rolled, he’s too vulnerable to removal considering his effect is not that powerful. He’s fun, but don’t expect him appearing on the Essentials List anytime soon.
-Gamora…ok, she was nuts. This team ended up showing her in the most optimal scenario, and my goodness, if you can thin out your sidekicks, you will be rolling a lot of dice more consistently than you should. But if you use her, you really want Yawning Portal in there to help “fix” your draws, so that you can add a Gamora to a bag filled with bolt characters, or you add some extra bolts when you know Gamora’s coming up…you get the idea. Since Yawning Portal doesn’t have an equivalent with other energy types, I really think Gamora will shine brighter than Iron Man (who rushes with fists) and Rocket Raccoon (who rushes with shields). But I’m open to be proven wrong.
-Fun fact: with so much removal available that spins to energy, an engine that allows you to draw tons of dice and that does not require a character to be active is not a bad strategy. I underestimated Rush.
-Obligatory disclaimer: if you’re using Iceman in Modern, build around the SR Turk Barrett, not the rare. And you’ll probably want to skip Wand so that Turk can survive through to the attack step. As I alluded to, this is not an optimal competitive build by any stretch.
-Now, even though this team was an ideal setup for Gamora to look good, it’s not an optimal team to use her to win. In a team focused on the 3-cost Jubilee (which deals damage based on attacking bolt characters), where Yawning Portal has the added benefit of free fielding, that Gamora might just be the spark that brings that team over the top. We’ll see.
In the end, I wanted to spotlight Turk and Black Swan, but it’s Gamora who stole the show; go figure. Either way, this was quite fun. Rush definitely gives you more of a gambler’s…rush (pun absolutely intended) than most other ramp engines. Try it out sometime. You never know, it might be fun.