By: John Tatta
Just a quick backstory before I dive into this week’s deckbuilding article. When did you first get into comics? For me it was walking into my first comic store when I was 7-years old. I don’t remember a lot about that day but what I do remember is seeing a giant Iron Man poster above shelves upon shelves of comic books. I didn’t know that I loved comic books when I walked into that store but by the time I completed my first lap around the shop I fell in love very quickly. I always loved reading, mostly fantasy novels, and comic books just seemed like mini fantasy novels that came out chapter-by-chapter in monthly installments. To this day I still haven’t even come close to reading all there is to read in a comic book but for me it all started with that Iron Man poster and the Iron Man comics in particular.
I’m not sure what drew me to Iron Man over something as novel as Superman, Batman, or even Spider-Man. Maybe it was because he was human – just an average guy that had something bad happen to him. While I like the crazy superpowers that come with heroes and heroines like Superman and Supergirl, Iron Man just seemed normal. Like something like that could happen to any of us at any time. Whatever it was, I was hooked for life. I collected Iron Man comics for years, had a subscription mailed directly to my parent’s house that eventually included Iron Man alongside Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. I always like the “human” heroes and villains and would always put myself in their shoes for at least the 20 pages or so of each monthly issue. Admittedly, I haven’t opened a comic book for a long time but those memories will never go away.
That said, today we’re going to be looking at an Iron Man deck that I’ve been working on since A-Force was released. A few cards from that set really opened my eyes to the potential of Iron Man actually performing like I thought he should – Loki, in particular – and it was time to sleeve something up and see if I was right. The core of the deck, and the cards that make it all work, were fairly obvious once I laid all of the cards out. I knew that I wanted Loki to draw cards and continue to power-up my characters, and I knew that I wanted Moon Knight to ensure that I could level on turn 4 at the latest every game; a previous pitfall of Iron Man, the inconsistent nature of his level-up ability. I also really wanted to try out Pixie in the deck so that also opened up the possibility of playing Singularity which protects the counters on your characters to a certain extent. Singularity also has awesome stats for her cost and can get really, really large with Iron Man’s help. Yondu is an obvious concern with Singularity but something has to exist to keep her in check after all. Other than that, I wanted a Ghost Rider endgame since our KO pile was sure to be full of characters, I just needed to be sure that my characters were all good guys.
For the plot twists I definitely wanted to play Think Again and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as those two are a few of the best plot twists in the game and I wanted to also play You Won’t Like Her When She’s Angry for Pixie and Singularity as putting counters on our characters is pretty important. Other than that I wasn’t sure what I could fit in but Shock to the System is typically a card I like to play at least a few of at the very least. As for the locations, I definitely wanted 4 Avenger’s Mansion and 4 Arcadia and after that definitely 4 Academy and 4 Laboratory. I wanted a lot of room for some of the plot twists that I wanted to play so making room for green and red powers likely wasn’t going to happen. I also don’t really love the idea of playing decks without Yondu or Electro but I don’t think they’re going to work out too well in this deck. Cosmo on the other hand has a natural fit since we have a character with flight who can protect him as well as some really great plot twists to catch our opponent off-guard.
Here is the core of the deck that I started with:
Main Character – Iron Man
Characters – 23
4 Moon Knight
3 Ghost Rider
Plot Twists – 14
4 Think Again
4 Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
3 You Won’t Like Her When She’s Angry
3 Shock to the System
Locations – 16
4 Avenger’s Mansion
That gave me 7 card slots to work with that were for sure going to be characters. Given Pixie and Singularity, Thanos seemed like a pretty obvious inclusion, even if we couldn’t use his superpower. Just being able to put a 12/12 into play with the threat of it being even larger due to Iron Man’s ability seemed worth it. I just wanted a few copies of Thanos so we still have 5 slots to work with. We don’t need/want the full 4 because our game plan involves leveling long before he enters play and we don’t want multiple in our opening hand, or at any point during the game.
I think one of the main questions that we need to answer when building the deck is do we want 4 copies of Iron Man SC. I opted to not include him in this version but that might not be correct. Moon Knight really makes leveling consistent and Loki fills our hand back up post level up. Playing more copies of Iron Man just redundant and overkill. That particular backup plan didn’t feel necessary.
I wanted to include a 5-drop since I was missing one and Miss America is certainly the best one that I could think of since she’s “on-team” and also really tough to play around. So with 4 Miss America and 2 Thanos we had 1 slot to play with. I wanted to play a character and there aren’t a lot of great option for a 1-of character in the early parts of the curve so I wanted to look at the 6 and 7-drop characters. The first one that I picked up happened to be pretty perfect for what and that is Phoenix. She uses a yellow, is A-Force, and has decent stats, a great ability, and flight and range. With that settled, I sleeved up the deck and played ten games (the minimum before I even begin to think about an article). Here is the list that I played.
Main Character – Iron Man
The deck played out as expected. In 7 of the 10 games I leveled Iron Man on turn 4 with Moon Knight. In 1 of the games I leveled him turn 3 after hitting Moon Knight with Pixie. In the other 2 games I had to level naturally as I missed my Moon Knight drop. Notice that I didn’t talk matchups because Iron Man’s main weakness isn’t a particular matchup but rather consistency. Also, only once in the ten games did I get my Loki stolen so that concern wasn’t a focal point. The plot twists are what really impressed me most about the deck, to be completely honest. Think Again was as good as it always has been but it seems like most players just completely forget about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Many of my opponent’s made attacks expecting me to just play Shock to the System only to get blown out by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Naturally, Thanos is a tough matchup but the deck performed really well against Luke Cage and Captain Marvel which is a good sign.
In conclusion if you’re looking for a throwback MC to play around with before the release of Aliens at Gencon, I’d recommend giving Iron Man a go. Who knows, maybe Aliens has something juicy in store for him. Or, you know, maybe Thanos will disappear off the face of the VS universe and other “lowly” MCs like Iron Man can have a shot at glory.
EDIT (7/19/16): Yesterday we got a real treat from Upper Deck in the form of, in my opinion, the best preview card that we’ve seen so far for Aliens. This of course would be Call. For reference, here’s the card in all of its glory.
What Call does for Iron Man is pretty obvious. For one, it means that you never even have to consider playing 6-drop Iron Man. That’s a big deal already. Secondly, it adds even more consistency to the deck and makes it so that you don’t need to lean so heavily on Moon Knight to level up Iron Man. Finally, she can act as a wall and block several turns worth of incoming attacks (sans Flight) similar to what Goblin Queen does for a lot of decks. Essentially, Call is a plot twist that can act a 2/2 range character in a pinch. I’m not sure how to make room yet but with her addition, the Pixie/Singularity combo might take a back seat. It just depends on what else Alien brings to the table. Really looking forward to trying out Iron Man with her!
Until next time, thanks for reading and good luck in your battles!