Aliens Preview Roundtable 02

Last week we covered some of the Aliens Previews with John, Eric and Tim. This week, Eric and I invited Nicholas Rausch to join us for part 2 where we cover the latest spoiled cards. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into card games, Nick.

Nick – Thanks for letting me in on this one! Like so many other people, I got hooked into gaming by first playing Magic:the Gathering. I began just around the release of Mirage and have been playing ever since. I also played the World of Warcraft TCG during it’s last few years and had a reasonable amount of success at its higher levels of competition. Currently, I am the sole proprietor of my own LGS, Card and Board, in Archbold, OH.

Kirk – Let’s start with a couple of what I feel will be the bread and butter of a Xenomoprh deck, the 1 and 2 drop Swarm characters. These guys join the Ferocious Xenomorph we talked about last week to give us an idea of the direction Xenomorph flavor will go:

ALN-036 ALN-038

Kirk – What do you guys think these two bring to the table?

Eric – Adolescent Xenomorph looks to be an amazing 1 drop army mechanic. Turn 1 play him and hide him. Turn 2 live the dream by playing 2 more making an army consisting of a 4/4, 3/3 and a 2/2. Pretty sick if you ask me. If there is a plot twist or super power that causes multiples of these to appear at the same time, (Singularity, I may be looking at you also.)  I hope there is a company member able to dual wield a flamethrower strapped to a M41A Pulse Rifle to come save our butts.    

Now for this Leaping 2 cost character. I can’t get enough of the two or more Health characters. This guy takes out Thanos, Cosmo and several other MCs and sticks around to do it again the following turn. The lack of flight on defense does not seem so terrible. The Xenomorph decks look to be terribly offensive in nature and I don’t think you are going to be worrying too much about getting your Main Character stunned early with such a low Defense.

Nick – There’s something about playing 8 of a card in a deck that seems busted. Adolescent Xenomorph adds a level of consistency that no other card can. It influences so many things other than just the obvious from reading the text on the card; mulligan decisions, deck construction, even play patterns armed with the knowledge that you have a significantly higher percentage chance to draw this specific card over any other on any given turn.

As more and more sets come out for this game, and more and more team affiliations get introduced, it’s only natural that the better individual cards will be spread out across multiple team affiliations. This leads to cards that rely heavily on team attacking like Loyal Soldiers, Heroines of Arcadia, etc being slowly pushed out. Adolescent Xenomorph is a great design and push (and the power level is pushed) to keeping those cards relevant. Just watch out for Electro.

Aliens is looking to do one thing and do it well. Beatdown. Leaping Xenomorph fits that plan perfectly. I echo everything that Eric pointed out. I will add just one thing. Despite everything good that this card has going for it, 1 DEF has me concerned. All those low ATK early range guys that see play, stun this guy with ease. Yondu, Helmut, Cosmo, Ice Man, Wasp, all get to eat this guy up with little to no effort. Unless the 4 ATK is mathematically a huge upgrade over 3 ATK, or the team affiliation is important, you should look to Moonstone as your Cosmo killer first, then supplement with Leaping Xenomorph if you feel you need additional.

Kirk – I’m really looking forward to building decks around Swarm and Legion! Next we we have a character that gives a little late game oomph to the team in Screeching Xenomorph:

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Nick – Lets get the obvious out of the way. He pumps all your Adolescent Xenomorphs. Cool. Got it. That’s not what excites me about Screeching Xenomorph. I’m excited about how good this Alien is by himself. 3/6 on a 4 drop may seem lackluster, but I assure you it’s not. Outside of Spiral, not a single 4 drop can take him out without help. Now read his Screech ability again. He can choose ANY character with Swarm on your side, including himself. Now you have a 5/8 on turn 4 that can rumble with and survive most five and six drops, let alone 4 drops. 8 DEF is also that magic number that survives Punisher if you are on the draw. A great SC shouldn’t need help from other cards to be great. That fact is, this is so good on his own that being able to work well with other swarm SCs is just gravy.

Eric – This card screams for a Swarm based aggressive strategy. Let’s just say my 3 Adolescent Xenomorphs  have just returned from the Pocket Dimension via Singularity making them all 4/4s. I recruit Screeching Xenomorph and feed it some Might during my first turn four Main phase. Now I have 3 6/6 hormone crazed killing machines ready to wreak havoc on any opponent who dares resist becoming a host incubator. I for one will be sleeving this up as soon as I get my hands on that sweet green box.

Kirk – Now it’s time to look at The Company side of things with a few artificial characters:

ALN-021 ALN-013

Nick – Split cards were very interesting to me in M:tG. (Split cards are a single card that were basically two cards in one- the player was given a choice to play the card as part A or part B, both parts being totally different effects – editor) Typically either half would be just fine, not great, but the versatility of having both available on a single card was what pushed them into playable territory. I view Call much the same way.

The first half is very simple. A 2/2 range with 3 health for 2. Nothing fancy but not bad. Now,

imagine the following hypothetical card. Generic any turn plot twist. Main: Put a +1+1 counter on a character you control. Any Turn Combat: Put a +1+1 counter on a character you control in this combat. Would that be playable? Yeah. It’s fine. That’s the other half.

Call is that split card described above plus more. She works very favorably with cards like Loki, Iron Man and Symbiotic characters like Carnage and Venom. She is also a Company stamped card that sticks around for at minimum 3 turns, giving you ample opportunity to play your kick ass M41A Pulse Rifle.

Ash is a bit harder to evaluate. There are few things that jump out immediately at me. First is that Crew Expendable triggers after your recruit step for the turn. This means you have to construct your deck in such a way that mitigates this drawback should you get stuck with your own Ash. SCs that have multiple health, a bunch of low cost SCs that you can jam in a single turn, or a higher health MC like Dark Phoenix look to be the best options to accomplish this as first glance.

The other thing that jumps out at me is Twitchy uses yellow. Academy was played in 93% of the decks in the Origins 2.5k. We can take this one of two ways. One, almost everyone is going to have access to yellow during the game, meaning there will be a higher probability of your opponent sending Ash back to you. Because of this, make sure to sandbag a few of your own yellows to bounce him back. Two, Ash can also act as sort of resource denial. If they use their yellows early, they won’t be able to send Ash back to you. If they don’t spend their yellows, it means they aren’t using the superpowers that they intended on using those yellows for effectively denying them access to that super power.

What does all that point to in the end? I’m not sure. One thing I am sure of is I can’t wait to playtest Ash and find out.

Eric – Huge fan of the Artificial People being introduced to the game. Call is now everyone’s new little friend. Having 3 wounds is just amazing at the 2 drop spot. I should now be able to use Company team stamped cards for several turns without fear and still beef up some team attacks with my other company members from the back row. Full of Surprises is just the cream cheese icing on this awesome little cake. Being able to power up any character is just great. I expect to see this come in as a close second to Cosmo at Gen Con as far as numbers played in decks go.

Ash is a game within a game card. The fact that you have to stun a character after you have recruited is significant and is where I am looking to make Crew Expendable less of a drawback for me as the owner. I plan on having Intellect for the Twitchy ability, obviously. I can see deadpool being expendable the turns you need him to be for the cheap cost of one Might. I’ll still be able to recruit on curve this way. Plus we are obviously playing Call and maybe other synthetics with their extra wounds to mitigate our own forced stuns from Crew Expendable. We can choose our own Main Character if that seems to be the best play. Luke Cage perhaps? The  three wounds mean it will stick around for a while to wear on your opponent’s nerves and cause a ton of non combat stuns. Maybe we heal it with our Chief Medical Officer Clemons to keep the mini game going. I can keep listing scenarios I want to be in with this card but we don’t have that much space here.  Don’t get caught unaware of what this mini-game is going to do to your deck if you are going to play at Gen Con and want to be competitive. This is exactly the card some players overlook because it’s complicated and will eat up a good amount of time figuring out. Ash is a nasty soulless character and he does not care that you have such a limited time frame to figure out he is not exactly on the side of Humanity or your deck for that matter.

Kirk – I probably should have put these guys in alphabetical order, as they appear in that order in the Movies as well, but we’ll finish the Synthetic Humans with my favorite of the bunch, Bishop:

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Eric – “Stop your grinnin and drop your Linen!” This didn’t apply to Bishop in the Movie, but oh boy does it to him apply to him now. I can hear Private Hudson’s words now but not ironically and applied to Bishop. “He is the ultimate badass! State of the badass art!” Move over Cosmo, Bishop + M41A Pulse Rifle is now the best turn 1 play in the game. And he can take advantage of any of Hudson’s “tactical smart missiles, phased plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks…”. I am in, I want this State of the art badass in play for no resource cost. I want him on turn 1, with a weapon and I want him to be sending characters to Stun-hurst and KO’d-ville as soon as synthetically possible. If this card doesn’t get your heart rate going like the good ole Bisop show us your “Knife Trick” then there are probably going to be plenty of Pokemon to be caught out in the lobby at Gen Con.

Nick – Is this real? What? It is? You sure? ./shrug OK. Uh-yeah. This is exactly what it looks like. A 4/4 with 3 health that you can play on turn 1. As I mentioned before, Academy was  being played in 93% of decks so most decks are already halfway to playing this guy. The big unknown is how useful is Earth going to be. If even just 1 of the Company MCs has a decent super power that takes Earth or just 1 more playable SC gets printed that uses Earth, expect a bunch of this guy.

If the Magneto deck that Kirk, Eric and I played at Origins showed one thing, it was how powerful team attacking actually is. The villains suite of multi health SCs allowed you to team attack all the way up the curve with little drawback of getting a guy stunned as you knew they were going to be around for another turn, ready to team attack again. The Company now have a 1-drop (kind of), a 2-drop, and a 4-drop, all with 3 health. If we see a 2+ health Company SC at the 3 drop slot  or 5 drop slot , or heavens help me both(!), you can apply the same principles we used in Magneto to the Company.

Kirk – Finally, the two cards spoiled the day we are discussing this gives us our first glimpse at a Plot Twist and a big, giant baby:

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Eric – It’s surprising how excited I am getting over these spoilers. I forgot how much I loved the Alien franchise. The Newborn is creepy as heck and I feel like this new 6 drop is going to raise the bar quite a bit. It already has base stats comparable to all but Drax after he has attacked. He has Two wounds; great as all the best characters do. Now we get 2 special powers. Monstrous is good, I like it. Wait, I love it! Thinking back to my experience with Abomination he has the Monstrous keyword too but he is an underwhelming 5/5 at the five resource slot. All the best 4 drops stun him easily and Punisher just owns him. Monstrous on him is forgettable because he is not big and rarely needs to be team attacked to be stunned in that stage of the game. The Newborn however has the built in ability to become game tilt-ingly large. As an 8/8 monstrous character for one Might, he is already as large or larger than most 7 drops. At 11/11 he’s even more elite. Monstrous now has a character to actually champion its actual power level in the game. Good luck not losing your entire team and all your plot twists just trying to take this Vicious Creature down when there is enough Might to support him for his two plus turns.

Now Chestburst is definitely a plot twist I wanted to see in name. But I just feel like they missed the flavor mark here. I would have leaned toward “They Have Acid for Blood” since it is a melee combat trick and it is so specific and basically underwhelming in damage compared to what I imagine a xenomorph fetus bursting from the chest after it was incubating and growing from within the host would do. If this card was a non combat plot twist and still gave 2 -1/-1 counters to a target non xenomorph character and allowed you to summon a one cost on team character like Adolescent Xenomorph then I would be as excited about it as I have been about several other cards. But the fact it only gives the 2 -1/-1 while in melee combat lowers this card’s playability for me. It is very good as a combat trick. Don’t get me wrong. I do like a reverse You Won’t Like Her When She is Angry that works on both offense (thank goodness) and defense. But as most people have found. The Generic Defensive plot twists are usually just better. The underworld has a card that is similar in Pain and Suffering and it has not seen any play as of yet. I do like the idea of Pain and Suffering with the Winter Soldier MC but I never got around to trying it. So I will just have to figure this one out when I get a chance to sleeve up and go to work.

Nick – Eric hit the nail on the head on Chestburst. It’s a You Won’t Like Her When She’s Angry that can be used on both offense and defense at the trade off of only being able to use in melee combat. There is also the benefit of not being susceptible to Even to Odds or Black Cat and working quite well with Viper SC. This card does seem much better on offense, which fits perfectly with the swarming xenomorphs.

Say hello to the new best 6 drop in the game. Hello The Newborn. Hyperbole aside, this guy is REALLY strong. I don’t need to point out how big an 11/11 or 8/8 for six is. Sure, there are cards like Black Cat and Even the Odds that will shrink him back to 6/6 but even a vanilla 6/6 with 2 health for 6 isn’t that bad. Monstrous is incredibly relevant as all but Adam Warlock and Thanos will require a team attack to bring down this baby. Whatever deck you play, you better have a plan should The Newborn show up across the table from you.

Kirk – I think others are dismissing The Newborn because it uses counters to get big, but that’s fine. I’d rather force them to have those answers and then still have to deal with the 6/6 that’s left behind who can always pick up more counters later than not. Also, if you’re playing Adolescent Xenomorphs and Screeching Xenomoprhs and they haven’t used all their Counter Asnwers by the time you play The Newborn, something is seriously wrong…

Thanks for joining us, guys and giving us your thoughts on this week’s previews!