By: Sal D’Agostino
Alright everyone, with the most important VS event so far this year about to begin (Interesting, seeing how Sal won the Milwaukee 1k already this year – Editor), and me not having qualified to play in it all because my last name isn’t Buckendorf (not the first time that’s kept me out of something), I figured I’d provide some color analysis on my bracket submission for the SALT16 TM © patent pending, rebroadcast not allowed without the express written permission of major league baseball.
THE FIRST ROUND:
A lot of decks to get through so we’ll try to make this quick… (All decks linked in their names)
DP looks to be the Pixie / Singularity build that brought Ashley Knox into the public eye (and all our hearts), while the Venom deck has been floating around the back allies of New Orleans trying to lure unsuspecting tourists into illegal dice games with some local ruffians. This Venom deck looks fun, and it may have game some places, but I don’t think its ready to battle with the big boys, I predict DP 2-0s here, but my hope is there is at least one awkward Rhino attack that leads to a long discussion about paying yellow and possibly results in the boys running over their lunch hour.
This one’s interesting, first off before we begin I think we need to establish whether Professor X can read a Xenomorph’s mind or not, as that will be key to his plan of attack. I honestly would have liked this match-up to come in a later round as both these decks are pretty promising and I would hate for the results here to give anyone the impression these are not both solid contenders. That said, Professor X just happens to be packing most every card I would want to avoid if playing the Dragon. I think this could go 2-1 as I really want the Dragon to take a game, but I doubt that is realistic. Professor X rolls on through to the next round.
Ah, another two decks I know pretty well… /glances at Luke Cage list… ok, so I’ve never seen this Luke Cage list before in my life, dang it Kirk. (It’s mostly Ashley’s Power Up Man from a previous DMG article – Editor) I like where we are going with Luke, despite the fact that I once lent a guy named Luke Cage $15 and he never paid me back, and I feel this build is probably good enough to make this match interesting. I also want to point out that I believe the Phoenix build needs to pack some copies of Dr. Strange, which may help this match-up a little but is ultimately for the Captain Marvel match-up. Anyway, criticisms of decklists and freeloaders who owe me money aside, these games are going into the late game for sure. With both decks pushing to turns 8+, the phoenix deck is probably favored pretty heavily. Phoenix 2-0.
I’ve probably played a million games with Magneto, and zero games with Dr Strange, so that averages to about a half million games of each – I should know this match-up really well. Discard vs Card Draw keeps things spicy, and Pixie is often good for keeping Magneto off early xp, but man do these heroes match-up awkwardly at level two (5/5 vs 4/7 and no real attack pumps anywhere). Strange’s ability vs Sabertooth is kinda a kick in the teeth, I’d like to think one of these games will be decided by a Magneto Buckendorf exclaiming ‘well, that sucks’ when losing his Sabertooth to Doctor Buckendorf Strange and a yellow location. That said, my major complaint about Magneto is missing drops, and with card draw on the other side I think that puts Dr Strange ahead despite Magneto’s superior late game. Ultimately the Buckendorfs basically taught Magneto everything he knows, so I think they will find a way to pull this off despite the questionable match-up. Magneto 2-1.
Would you believe I never tested this match-up? I just wasn’t very excited with Sister Grimm’s performance elsewhere… /checks sister Grimm deck list for Dr. Strange… Captain Marvel wins 2-0
I love the idea of the Loki deck, I hope its really good one day. Sister Ripley is also really fun, this should be a fun match to play. I think Sister Ripley’s equipment combo is going to be backbreaking though against Loki, a 21/23 Ripley #8 beats everything short of a Thanos / Dormamu team attack with Heroines of Arcadia… let that sink in for a moment… The lack of time limit here puts this match in the Sister Ripley court, I predict a 1-0 win followed by a ‘this is stupid’ and moving on to the next match-up.
Deadpool is actually pretty reasonable, and gains more value in a match-up like this, but it does still lack consistency. Meanwhile Starlord is sneaky, and has packed some icemen in a pocket dimension for just this occasion. I predict a solid match resulting in Deadpool winning the first game, Starlord locking down and winning the second one on turn one million, and the third game being decided with Deadpool’s mulligan hand coming up without any aliens. The inclusion of open fire instead of chest burst probably helps this build recover slightly, but I think we still come up short. Starlord 2-1
We’ll make this one quick as well, I really like the enchantress deck here. Some effective discard should slow down the early ironman powerups, and I think he struggles too much to recover before getting crushed by some large enchantress fueled supporting characters. Enchantress 2-0.
ROUND 2, FIGHT:
The dream dies pretty quickly here, Dark Phoenix 2-0, no question in my mind (cue me being completely wrong).
Oh man, I want to try this one out before I comment as I know I could be very wrong here, but to keep things fair and give me a chance to (continue to) make a fool of myself, I’m going with my gut. Phoenix has a lot of good tools here, I hope they come together because I really want to see it move on to the next round. Phoenix 2-1.
Damn it. Well, if you were wondering what is good against Captain Marvel playing four Dr Strange is one of your answers, and an early Bishop doesn’t hurt either. This is honestly not that bad of a match-up for Captain Marvel as the even the odds keeps you in it, but it’s a match you can absolutely lose also. I think its easy for Sister Ripley to take this one, but since I am supposed to be playing up the whole ‘my deck vs Ashley’s deck’ in the finals I’m going with… /checks deck list one more time and notices Kirk also plays Parker… Sister Ripley 2-0. Aside: I built a similar Sister Ripley deck I discussed with Kirk leading up to Milwaukee that also included the discard characters at first, after tuning it and kicking out Helmut (kept Ronan) it went on a 10 game winning streak against my Captain Marvel deck. Game over man.
Discard is probably really good here, and the Enchantress ability should keep her characters on par with the stats of Star Lords guys even with some ramping. Enchantress 2-1 (due to misplay resulting from Kirk seeing one of my posts in the forum during his game and launching into a ten minute tirade about how bad I am at this game).
ROUND 3, things get spicy-er:
Dark vs light, good vs evil, Phoenix featured on my play mat vs the other phoenix, this is the match-up you all came here for. Once again I’ve played zero games with one deck and a million with the other (possibly more), so lets average my half million games per deck experience to come up with a prediction: Dark Phoenix is still good. Phoenix has some good tricks, and without acceleration I think she is favored here, but in a best of 5 series I expect one of these games to be decided easily by DP double ramping and just crushing phoenix. The lack of dramatic entrance is also really big, you wouldn’t like her is a fine defensive plot twist but its not that hard to play around, where as a dramatic entrance can really ruin your day. That said, lets imagine one of these games DP doesn’t ramp at all, so now we have a best of 3 series playing with average hands. I think the average DP hand involves ramping at some point, and establishing a strong lead as a result. Just be careful not to draw 30 cards with Loki craziness and then get hit with Emma Frost / Singularity, lets pretend that happens once as well, so that brings our prediction to Dark Phoenix 3, Phoenix 2, Emma Frost 1 giant kick in the…
Again we have a match-up where discard and big characters is good, shocking, but again we also see some value in all the +1/+1 counter haters hanging out with Sister Ripley. I think this match becomes awkward to play for the enchantress pilot, I wonder if the Buckendorfs have tested it at all? I’m going to guess no, in which case I think the match-up favors Sister Ripley even further. Even with experience this may still not be good, and a lot of it will come down to knowing how hard to push in the early game with enchantress and counters as the late game should belong to Ripley. Sister Ripley 3-1, but I wouldn’t be too surprised with a 3-0.
First off, we all knew Dark Phoenix was going to make it to the finals, right? And I think we all knew that it was going to be marked as the winner in my bracket as soon as I said Captain Marvel was out. So now the question becomes “can Sister Ripley win a game or two?”
Probably not, but nothing should go 4-0 in a best of seven. Dark Phoenix 4-2.
Now, another quick aside, Dark Phoenix is really good. There are probably some people wondering if she is too good, and I would caution you against jumping to that conclusion just yet. In the current format, she may be a little bit too strong, but things are going to shake up here soon and reasonable ramp deck is probably acceptable in a health meta-game, just give it some time for another set to release and shake things up.
Also as an aside: thanks to the Bucken-duo for putting this on, it was a fun idea and I hope they have just as much fun running the event.
THE FUN STUFF:
Tiebreaker 1 – Kirk vs Eric – I’m going with Eric, because if Kirk starts to pull ahead in games I am going to start texting him bad matchup advice to let Eric catch up.
Tiebreaker 2 – see above, 6 games for the finals.
Tiebreaker 3 – I like being on the play, but I also see quite a few of these decks as being pretty well balanced for either way. With my predicted performance for the discard decks there is probably some game theory mathematics I could use to come up with a prediction here, but I’m tired so I’ll just say the Draw and go to bed.