By: Nicholas Rausch
I wasn’t excited in the weeks leading up to Origins. I just could not find a deck that I really liked. Dark Phoenix was the best deck, not even close, but I’m not one to play the best deck if I can avoid it. Eric and Kirk weren’t going to make the trip due to the Magic GP in Vegas. Colby was trying to convince me to MCU sealed deck with him but the set just did not look like it was powerful enough to hang with the big decks of the illustrated universe. Fortunately local players Earl Tietsort and Brian Cooley showed me their Juggernaut deck none too soon.
Have to give credit where it’s due. They designed an amazing Juggernaut deck. Earl identified that Juggernaut’s size at both lvl 1 and 2 match up very well against most MCs. Earl and Brian also identified Juggernauts biggest weaknesses and switched up the supporting cards to shore up those weaknesses. After just few testing sessions and tweaks, I was sold. Here’s the list I settled on.
The card choices reflect our expected metagame of heavy Dark Phoenix and Thor. I’ll go over a few of the atypical card choices here.
Hawkins – This is the perfect card to pair with Juggernaut. Mercenary and Leader together allows you to team attack for more damage against larger characters and lets Juggs survive getting you XP.
*Gorgon* – One of the ways opposing decks can beat you is by going over the top of Juggernaut. *Gorgon* eliminates counters as a way to go big. Now they have to beat you on raw stats which is difficult to do against an 8/8.
Falconer – This is hands down the best card in the deck. Changing an opposing players formation is an incredibly powerful thing to do. Doing it on the opponent’s turn is even better. You can pull a character they are trying to hide to the front row. You can shove a non range SC to the back row to prevent it from attacking. You can push or pull a character to set up an Unstoppable attack from Juggernaut.
Falcon Drone – The obvious thing here is it’s a resource that Falconer tutors up so you can activate his ability right away. The hidden mode of Falconer is preventing your opponent from suiciding their MC into Juggernaut so you can in turn gain XP the following turn. The information on the opponent’s draws doesn’t come up often as you typically only get 1 turn of it, but it is a nice perk.
Combistick – An important card for so many matchups. No Dramatic Entrance from Dark Phoenix. No Savage Surprise from Mystique. No Think Again from Thor. Shuts off like 30 cards against whatever Anthony Calabrese is playing. The stat bonus also comes up against opposing 5 powered characters like Thor MC, Iron Man MCU MC, Massacre SC, Keyes, and Stick to name a few.
One of a Kind Predator Plot Twists – All of these are incredibly powerful effects. “Anytime” is the best one for this deck as it gives you an out of combat stun against almost any character. “Over Here” is particularly good against Dark Phoenix and Mystique likely grabbing you a fattie, hopefully Jungle Hunter, that came in off of a Dramatic Entrance.
The lone Predator Ship – A ton of blue isn’t needed since Net Launcher is the only card that uses it but it’s worth having the 1 to get Jungle Hunter to 12 ATK to take out opposing Thanos SC and Mystique MC.
On to the event.
Round 1 I faced off against Jan Szarwark playing Groot. It’s not a very good matchup so I knew I was in for a bad time. This was doubly true when he hit level 3 on turn 4 with 2x Mantis, 2x Mirage. 0-1
Round 2 was against Jon Phillips and his MCU Iron Man. *Gorgon* showed his worth keeping Iron man small. I nearly punted when I failed to take Loki’s ability into account when making my attacks but fortunately I wasn’t punished and won the following turn with the help from Net Launcher and Thanos. 1-1
Round 3 my foe was Oshaun and his Kingpin deck. Kingpin only has 5 health which Juggernaut really takes advantage of. A Turn Around ripping a Thanos, then an Over Here on the same Thanos sealed the deal. 2-1
I got to take on Jamal’s Viv Vision deck in Round 4. He had a great start by leveling on turn 2 and having Baby Avengers for my first 3 attacks, but Juggernaut was still able to gain XP. From that point forward Falconer made sure nothing could hide from the Juggernaut. 3-1
Round 5 my opponent was Anthony Calabrese and Sister Grim. He made some great updates to include some Underworld characters like Massacre and Solo. *Gorgon* shined again making Solo and YWLHWSA irrelevant. 4-1
Round 6 Vern and his Quake deck showed up to take on the immovable object. Vern was a little unlucky as he drew very few location in the early game and didn’t get to level up quickly. Juggernaut definitely punishes a stumbling opponent. 5-1.
At this point, both my next rounds were win-and-ins and even if I lost both, my breakers were decent and I still had a good shot of squeaking in. Round 7 I took a loss to eventual winner Joe Keaveny who pummeled me with his Dark Phoenix deck going turn 1 ramp, turn 2 ramp, turn 3 Jungle Hunter, turn 4 Thanos. I don’t think any deck is beating that draw. 5-2
The 8th and final round I locked up the 2nd seed with a win against Caleb Birman’s Dark Phoenix with the game playing out much more according to script. He did manage to ramp once but Falconer, Net Launcher, and Jungle Hunter made sure Jean couldn’t hide. 6-2
Going into the single elimination rounds I felt very very comfortable with all of my potential matchups. That was until I saw I would be playing against Jan and Groot again in the quarterfinals. I knew I was done for and as soon as we sat down I congratulated Jan and wished him luck in the top 4. We both got a pretty good chuckle out of it. The matchup was actually much closer than anticipated. I had a couple of chances to be in very good shape to steal game 2 but a topdecked Kane on turn 2 and a timely Even the Odds on one of my Jungle Hunters sealed my fate.
I really really loved the deck but would still make a few changes.
-1 Jessica Jones. JJ really doesn’t do anything but block for a few turns. She comes out too late to stop Dark Phoenix from ramping and there’s a good number of lethal characters that take her out like Punisher, Primeval Hunter, and Massacre. JJ does have a place so I’m not willing to completely cut her yet, and even 4 powered attacker for 3 turns isn’t irrelevant, but would be fine dropping down to a 2 of.
– 1 Vocal Mimicry. While the ceiling is high for this card, the floor is sooooooo loooooow. It’s much better as card that is guaranteed to do something all the time.
+1 Gorgon. I’ve sung the praises of Gorgon above. I definitely want the 4th.
+1 Ghost or Shock to the System or The Best Offense is a Good Defense. I don’t know what I want in the last slot. Ghost is the best card for turning the corner and starting the end game reach. Shock to the System is a way to interact on your opponent’s turn which the deck currently doesn’t have a way to do outside of Falconer. Best Offense is a way to gain the much needed XP. I will be trying all of these cards in that last slot.
Earl and Brian – You guys rock and designed an amazing deck!
Colby – My Origins accountabilibuddy this year. Appreciate the comradery and all the games we jammed on Friday. Also a man of his word playing MCU as he said he would. Can’t wait to play in your crossover event at GenCon.
My opponents – Everyone was a class act. Special shout outs to Vernon, Jan, Anthony and Jon for keeping matches light and fun!
Falconer – The best card no one is playing.
Chad and the UDE team – A well run and professional event as always! The best TO out there!
The rest of the DMG team – Kirk and Eric no-showing Origins?! John leaving early?! You all left me hangin’. Unacceptable!
30 Minute round timers – Everyone was expecting 35 minutes. Multiple matches went to time every round. Can we please get 35 minutes all the time?
The entire predator faction – Holy hell, these cards are all WAY too good and lead to the exact same play patterns from turn 6 forward.