All right! The new Modern rotation is in full swing, so let’s start off by testing a combo that is not only good, but where both pieces are commons! Let’s see if Anti-Monitor can make another common into a…
The Team: You know who’s the Star-ro of the show
Format: 2022 Modern
Let me walk you through the combo if you didn’t know: the goal is to attack with Starro and Anti-Monitor together. Since both “When attacks” abilities trigger simultaneously, I, as the active player, choose the order. First, I use Starro to steal my opponent’s sidekicks. Second, I trigger Anti-Monitor, KO said sidekicks (and other weak characters) so that my opponent loses even more blockers (hopefully all of them). Then, my biggest characters can go through unblocked if I KO’d enough characters with Anti-Monitor.
For Anti-Monitor to work, I want to add some characters I’d want KO’d. I put Poison Ivy and Batman for this purpose. Batman is obviously there for his global, so that I can field sidekicks from my Used Pile on demand. While the global is hard to use, this is where Ivy comes in. If I get her on double energy, I get a free Plant Token, and I also happen to get the energy to trigger Batman’s global.
Before jumping to other characters, a couple more points on Batman: My opponent can get sidekicks too if I use Batman’s global, but with Starro on my side, it discourages my opponent from fielding sidekicks. Also, this particular Batman has a natural synergy with Anti-Monitor, as I get to hurt my opponent (and any remaining blockers) with Batman’s ability after Anti-Monitor’s ability resolves.
While Anti-Monitor’s removal is great, I need a way to get specific targets off my opponent’s side of the board. Enter Robin and Slingers. Slingers needs no introduction: it’s a force-attack global. It relies on masks, and with Ivy being my 2-cost character, I shouldn’t have issues with those. And Robin is also self-explanatory: the more characters I have, the more damage he deals to any opposing character. And with sidekicks and Plant Tokens, I expect I will have enough characters for Robin to make his presence felt. Plus, his global could be handy to field Anti-Monitor (or even Batman) for cheap.
One thing you may ask yourself: “wait. You have two 5-cost characters here with Batman and Anti-Monitor. Where’s your ramp?” Valid question. I’m using Wolverine and Dark Phoenix for that purpose. Wolverine serves for ramp, churn and bag fixing, whereas Dark Phoenix turns my sidekicks into discounts and ramp. She also helps me KO Robin so I can field him and use his removal recurrently.
The last two pieces are utility. Jean Grey is there as global hate – with the amount of globals I’m bringing, it certainly isn’t a waste. I went for the 4-cost as I expected to have sidekicks fielded regularly. And for my last card, I put The Front Line as a secondary strategy if my opponents shut down Anti-Monitor.
And with this weird mish-mash of a team, on to the games!
I started off against a C Doctor Fate/U Orion build. My opponent used control pieces (especially R Drax) to try to slow down my Anti-Monitor and Starro combo. But she could only slow it down for so long. It didn’t help that she brought Investigative Journalism, which made my team run much smoother. Her Orion global was a huge help too (to spin Starro up to level 3). Over time, Slingers earned its weight in gold getting Drax off the board long enough for me to set up my offense. One big anti-Monitor/Starro swing later, I won.
Next up, I faced off against an R Shazam team that also included SR Robin for removal, and even R Mary Shazam for even more removal and Shazam discount. He also had SR Lois Lane for the fielding discount (Robin discounts the first die, Lois discounts another one after). His removal defined the game. I got U Jean Grey early to limit global usage, but he had Investigative Journalism and used that ramp to great effect. Once he started fielding and KO’ing his Robin and Mary Shazam dice, not only did he KO my stuff consistently, but he got his R Shazam ready to go. I would’ve been in better shape if my stuff rolled, but Anti-Monitor didn’t roll all game, so I was consistently on the back foot, and he just kept up the pressure. He eventually just KO’d my board and swung in for the win.
For my last match, I went up against a team strongly focused on R Spider-man. His entire strategy was to spin my stuff to energy and swing in for the win. And for a while, it looked like my dice were cooperating with his strategy! I hardly could manage having more than one or two characters active at a time. As a result, I took a lot of early damage.
This is when Ivy started to shine (despite a bit of anti-synergy – see Post-Mortem). Her Plant Tokens couldn’t be spun, so they came in handy to slow Spidey down after that initial flurry. This gave me time to stabilize and go for Anti-Monitor and Batman (!). I managed to deal some hits back thanks to those two.
I need to address the last turn: my opponent was at 11 life and I had Anti-Monitor and a level 3 Batman with 7A (plus 2 tokens and a sidekick). My opponent had 5 characters, the highest D among them was 4 (Spider-Man). I attacked with Anti-Monitor and Batman, Anti-Monitor KO’d everything on my side of the board except Batman, forcing my opponent to KO everything except Spider-man. Batman triggered 4 times, dealing 4 damage to my opponent and 4 damage to his Spider-man. So my opponent was down to 7 life, no blockers, and I had a 7A Batman. I won, but barely (had that turn not worked, my opponent would probably have won in 2 or 3 turns at most).
-Starro and Anti-Monitor were the reason I built this team, and they delivered. Even though I didn’t buy Front Line all night, getting to lethal damage was easier than I thought when I could get that many blockers out of the way so easily. There’s enough big stats in this set that you don’t need to worry as much about increasing your attack to get the damage to win.
-I need to talk about Starro a bit more though. He’s amazing (used it in both of my drafts and here), but consistency is an issue with him: you only get a character out of him on 2 out of his 6 faces (since level 3 MUST be rerolled), so he is barely more consistent than an Energize effect (around a 60% chance to have him as a character after reroll – I’ll spare you the math). Making him the lynchpin of your strategy is thus a calculated risk. Note: I didn’t include a global to spin him up a level (e.g. Orion), but I probably should have. It makes him so much better.
-About Batman: the global was difficult to trigger, but the one time the character hit the field he defined the game. Him and Anti-Monitor together is just dirty. But they’re both 5-costs, so that’s not an easy combo to trigger.
-Robin is, in my opinion, the most versatile 3-cost in the new Modern. That “when fielded” ability is amazing removal, which you must be ready for. The global is just gravy. However, using him alongside Starro was annoying – my two 3-cost characters shared the same energy type, so that severely hurt my consistency.
-Ivy was solid (those tokens saved my bacon at the end there!), except there is a BIG blemish I didn’t realize: if her Energize effect triggers, it “fields” a token and counts as your first character “fielded”, so you can’t use Robin’s global ability on that turn (as that global only applies to the first character you field). That’s an unfortunate bit of anti-synergy and something to keep in mind when preparing for competitive play.
-That was my first time using UC Jean Grey. Having sidekicks active alongside her is not THAT tough, but if you’re relying on Dark Phoenix to afford your purchases (especially here, where Wolverine was my only other ramp) it puts you in an annoyingly difficult spot. Also, sidekicks are an easy target now for Range and such. She’s still solid, but not the most versatile option.
-I have to talk about Investigative Journalism. Two of my opponents brought it, and it was a big help – Dark Phoenix and Wolverine weren’t enough ramp for everything I was setting up. Even though it’s a 5-cost action, the flexibility it gives you is huge. Practice playing with and against that one, it’s absolutely solid.
So overall, as a single, cohesive team, this is not great. However, as a test of various cards and combos, it gave me a lot of great data. It gave me a good window into the new Modern format, and that’s all I was asking for here. Have you tried C Starro in other builds? How did it work out for you?
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