Well, some exciting news came to light: it looks like we have another Two-Team Takedown event starting in early May. So what better way to prepare than by seeing the winning teams from the last event? I can show you…
The Bec-Key To Victory
Format: Modern Two-Team Takedown with ban list (see below)
One thing to mention off the bat: even though the format was Modern, three cards were banned from the event:
- God Catcher: Famous Walking Statue
- Becky Lynch: Maiden Ireland
- Thor: Jormungand’s Fear
Obviously, these were banned because they appeared to be the biggest win conditions in Modern at the time. But anything beyond that was fair game, which made for an interesting challenge.
Now, let’s start this article with a big caveat: I know some players in this event built casual, fun teams. I didn’t feel like going that way. Anytime someone brings me a new format, I see it as a new challenge, and I look for a way to “break” it, so to speak. And here, we had Modern without the big three. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to assess what might be the “meta” of this new format.
So let’s break down each of the two teams I ran:
Team link: The Other Good Becky
To be clear: Yes, this is a Becky team. But it’s not using “that” Becky. While the 5-cost, Maiden Ireland, was banned, the 4-cost was absolutely fair game. And with those stats, for that purchase cost, AND Overcrush, she was clearly one of the strongest and fastest win conditions available. This is in addition to her global ability, which is great ramp and allows you to set up what you need, when you need it. Of course, with Becky, my two BAC picks were clear: Booker T to force blocks, and Jerry Lawler to double Becky’s damage. Predictable, but effective.
Now, this isn’t my first rodeo running the 4-cost Becky (I used her last year in the Two-Team Takedown Legacy Invitational), so I knew a couple of pieces I wanted to include. First up, Kree Captain. The global can help you get Becky quicker; with Becky’s own global, you can Prep a Becky on turn 1 in theory. Yowza! And then there’s Pip the Troll. Seeing as the 4-cost Becky doesn’t have built-in removal, you want some way to easily remove threats, and Pip’s the best at that job, by far. Field him, spin up to two dice to energy (don’t forget, you can spin less if you want your opponent to keep a sidekick!), and open the way for Becky to wreck your opponent.
So to recap, I have my win condition, support for my win condition, reliable ramp (That also serves as a great way to set up whatever I need), a discount for my win condition, and strong removal. This left me with 4 fundamental needs to address with the 5 remaining cards:
- Global hate (especially to stop Static Field!)
- Secondary win condition/Complementary damage
- Control (even if just to threaten control)
For global hate, my options were Nefarious Broadcast (not a good idea, since my two BACs are already chosen and that BAC counters my strategy), Eddie Guerrero (a 2-cost that gives me bolts that, frankly, I don’t need) or Istrid Horn (gives me fists, but requires me to have tools to re-field her easily). I went for Istrid, because those cheap fists are important for the team’s speed and consistency. This made another card inclusion easy. Nihiloor’s global allows me to KO one of my characters on demand per turn. This means I can get Istrid off the field easily to trigger her “When fielded” effect. But Istrid is not the only one who benefits. I can also use this on Pip the Troll for the same reason, making his removal far more consistent. A great fit with the cards I included so far.
Now, on to the secondary win condition. Pretty obvious pick, and another one I ran last year: Jubilee. She also uses a “When fielded” effect and thus benefits from Nihiloor if it comes to that. But she is especially helpful considering that she is very complementary to Becky. With Becky, your opponents want to keep a lean field to avoid being forced to block. With Jubilee, on the contrary, you want blockers, otherwise you take 4 to 6 damage per Jubilee die (2 from her ability plus 2 to 4 combat damage). So using these two win conditions together can keep your opponent on their toes and force them into bad choices.
And then there’s control, or rather, the threat of control. I included Drax as another 3-cost that can shut down opposing threats. But to be entirely honest, I wasn’t banking on him too much. I was banking on my opponent planning his purchases knowing he was available. Even without purchasing him, just by being on the team he essentially did his job.
And last, but certainly not least, I needed more consistency. Enter Intellect Devourer. Turning sidekicks into any energy I needed was crucial. After all, at different points, I need every different type of energy: Shields for Becky, her global, Pip, and Booker T’s global (and Drax if needed). Fists for Istrid, Kree Cap’s global, and Jerry’s global. Bolts for Jubilee. Masks for Nihiloor. So Intellect Devourer’s flexibility was important to get me what I needed at will.
And if you’ll allow me a side-conversation, let’s talk about the illusion of perfect rolls. I’ve earned the nickname, “The Canadian Wizard”, from the original creators of the Two-Team Takedown format, CR Gameroom, because I always seem to pull something off out of nowhere. But one thing that helps is when you can make something happen with almost everything. This team is a great example. There are very few rolls that I can do “nothing” with.
For example: oh no, I rolled sidekick, sidekick, mask on Turn 1 going first. Ok. Intellect Devourer global one of the sidekicks into a “?” and buy Istrid Horn for two, and save the other sidekick to potentially allow me to Prep a Becky or a Pip the Troll next turn. That’s a horrible T1 roll, but with the right tools, it suddenly looks like it was my plan all along. I’ve been meaning to do a deep-dive into concepts like this, but I’ve been lacking the time and energy. I’ll try to get back to it sometime.
So phew, that’s one of my teams. On to the next. After a super-fast aggressive team, here’s a slower team that still serves as a giant wrecking ball.
Team list: Hal’s Lan-Turn To Shine!
This team serves as a big change of pace. The core win condition is simple: Green Lantern gives my Justice League characters the ability to deal damage based on the energy in my Reserve Pool. Zatanna is there because she’s a Justice League character who also uses masks (meaning I deal larger amounts of damage by focusing strongly on one energy type). And Clayface can allow me to turn a mask (or question mark) from my Reserve Pool into two masks, increasing Green Lantern’s damage output.
Well, this looks like it’s turning into a mask team, so why not go all-in on that? That means Asuka’s the obvious fit here; she discounts all mask characters I purchase, and thus helps my win condition greatly. She also acts as a secondary win condition, as her being buffed by every mask character I field can add up quickly. Sticking with masks, I also put in Black Widow. She’s the best 2-cost mask in Modern if you’re just looking for energy. That Energize effect is excellent removal when it fires off.
Ideally, I would want to have some way to reliably get masks, but I already put Intellect Devourer in my other team (and it’s a much better fit there!). So instead, I’m going to double-down heavily on removal and control. Doctor Strange is there for his global (obviously enough), to force characters off the field. Static Field is also there for its global, so that if my opponent forces my own characters to attack, I can push them back. This has the added benefit, for me, that if I attack with Green Lantern and Zatanna, after Green Lantern’s damage triggers, I can just use Static Field to send them back to my Field Zone and keep the damage going next turn. Putting a force attack and Static Field seems counter-intuitive and anti-synergy at first glance (and it kind of is). But for this team, it works: Keep in mind that I win by stacking tons of mask energy in my Reserve Pool. As a result, I will generally have the energy to use that force attack global with little pain on my end. For my opponent, on the other hand, saving that energy is going to throw off their pace and hurt their strategy. And I’m banking on that.
As for the rest of the team, I put in Mimic for more removal (with the benefit of not clogging my bag, since once fielded, he either stays on the field or gets KO’d by his own ability), Typhoid Mary for blanking (necessary to slow down aggro teams or get around opposing control), and last but not least, Villainous Pact to use its global for ramp (keeping in mind that you can use Pact’s global after attacking, which is generally what I did once Lantern hit the field).
Still with me so far? Good! Now, let’s talk about how this craziness went.
Keep in mind that since this is the Two-Team Takedown format, you must win with BOTH teams to win a round. Instead of linking to their teams, I will name each opponent, and you can see their team lists here.
In round 1, I went up against Shadowmeld. Unfortunately for him, he was running my two backup teams (which were not optimized), namely a Wild Magic/Doctor Strange team, and a Fish Slap team (which works far less well when we don’t have an Ally in Modern). I started with Becky, who was just a wrecking ball and won in the blink of an eye. Then I used Green Lantern, and despite a clear lack of mask energy in the early game, I managed to recover and win the match 2-0.
Overall record: 1-0
Next up, I went up against Comicsmike. First match was my Becky team against his Asuka/Ivy team. He had some interesting counter-play in game 1, where he would use the Rock global (after I’d use Istrid to shut down Static Field) to get his characters off the field so I couldn’t use the Booker/Jerry combo. So I just ended up swinging with Becky, and that (combined with his early bad rolls) was enough for me to outpace him and win.
Then, game 2 was Green Lantern vs Poison Ivy. It was my turn to have bad early rolls, and I really missed my sidekick fixer there. I recovered though, and despite having a hard time keeping much of a field (since he had as many masks as I did!), I managed to hold him back long enough for Green Lantern to work his magic. It was especially tough because I didn’t want to force him to attack; once I shut down his Ivy with Typhoid Mary, he focused on trying to win with combat damage (with Asuka and The Rock in particular). Since I was relying on non-combat damage, he had a harder time stopping my damage, whereas I had enough blockers and masks to hold back his biggest bruisers. I eventually won 2-0.
Overall record: 2-0
My third round was against Spug. This round started with my Becky vs his Jubilee. Now, this game I went for Pip the Troll early, and I always kept Pip ready to remove blockers thanks to Nihiloor. Once Becky would arrive, she’d swing in at will, and he simply had no way to stop the onslaught, so I won. We then both switched teams (My Green Lantern vs his Iceman) and he gave me an unexpected gift: double Clayface! Some early masks allowed me to buy some early Widows and keep a steady supply of masks pretty much all game. When that happens, Green Lantern is hard to stop (especially since I rolled characters consistently, which is more than what I can say for some of my other matches…). I easily outpaced Iceman for the win and won the round 2-0.
Overall record: 3-0
My next opponent was General Nemesis. I decided to switch it up and start with Green Lantern this time. He chose his Iceman team. That was a crazy nail-biter of a game, as he managed to really rack up the Iceman damage early. But eventually, I blanked his Iceman with Typhoid Mary, which gave me a chance to stabilize the situation and work my way back. That, added with my Widow spinning his characters to energy, meant he couldn’t get the last few points of damage in. But then he kept my Lantern off the field, even using the Wand global to ping off Green Lantern at crucial times (when I’d pass priority before the Attack Step). However, since Wand’s global requires you to pay life, he could only keep that up for so long. It was a real nail-biter, but I squeezed by with a win.
Then, he kept Iceman and I went Becky. That matchup was a lot rougher for him, because Becky simply outpaced him in damage. I was the aggro, and even though he held on as well as he could, Becky…was inevitable. I won 2-0 (somehow).
Special mention to his Typhoid Mary die, that kept rolling on its 1 generic energy face and made my job much easier on both games. Hopefully he already threw this cursed die to the depths of Mount Doom.
Overall record: 4-0
This is it. The finale. For all the marbles! I was up against mbrewer. This round was recorded and you can watch it here:
Game 1: I started with Green Lantern again vs his Becky team. It was a good matchup for me. He didn’t include the same globals I did, so his team wasn’t as quick as my own Becky team, and I took advantage. Thanks to some early masks allowing me to set the pace, I methodically picked his team apart and won.
Game 2: Becky vs Becky. He was helped by my globals in this matchup. And on my end, it was sheer chaos. Nothing was rolling right, my pace was completely off. As you may know, in a Becky mirror-match, one missed roll can put you way behind the 8-ball. Want a demonstration? Watch this game. He won.
Game 3: (removal: the team!) vs Becky. It was also sheer chaos. Note: there was an accidental misplay by my opponent, who forgot he needed to spin one of his own dice to energy with Spidey if I had nothing on the board. It was an accident, and didn’t impact the final result, so no hard feelings. We were keeping very thin fields and thus kept charging like madmen. Between Becky, Jubilee, and even Kree Captain (!), I barely outpaced him for the win.
So I won this round 2-1
Overall record: 5-0 (!)
-For the Becky team: It was a well-oiled machine, except for one thing: When my opponent had no globals for me to stop, I sometimes had to buy Istrid Horn for…no good reason other than her being a 2-cost fist. That felt like a waste, and I wished I had another 2-cost on more than one occasion.
-One card that helped tremendously (and it’s not the first time) was Pip. Seriously, a T2 Pip the Troll purchase (prepped with Becky) is not a bad idea, as it almost forces your opponent to keep nothing/nearly nothing on the field. It is extremely effective removal, and an even better threat of removal by sending things to Used (essentially). It does mean that I often had no blockers on the other end, so I’d win with Becky attacking into an empty field. But that is barely slower than the usual Booker/Jerry strategy, and with empty fields, my opponent would have a hard time setting up their strategy, so it would still work to my advantage.
-For the Green Lantern team: this team was horrible if I didn’t roll masks. The big lack in this team was consistency for the early game. But other than that caveat, it was great.
-On Green Lantern vs Ivy as the “better” mask team: I really like Poison Ivy teams. I ran them before on multiple occasions to great effect. But Lantern, while slower, simply has better damage output once he fires off. Except Ivy has built-in removal, meaning you usually have fewer blockers to deal with if you try to swing in for victory. I can’t make a call as to which is the “better” team. They both have strengths and weaknesses. Pick the one that fits your play style.
So what do you think? Would you have built these teams differently? Do you intend to participate in the next Two-Team Takedown? And do I stand a ghost of a chance for the next TTTD without a Super Rare Master Mold?
Let us know in the comments below, on our Socials (@dmNorthTV), or join the conversation on our Discord.