Salt 16: Luke Cage VS. Phoenix

By: Eric Buckendorf

(Follow along the Salt 16 bracket here!)

Match 4 was kind of a bust, but this week is anything but! I am excited to see this play out, so let’s get started.

I am piloting Luke Cage this round and Kirk will be playing Phoenix. I have not played a lot of matches vs Phoenix or with her yet so am not sure what is going to happen.

Kirk won the die roll this time and chose to go first seeing as he gets a potentially free stun with a ranged attack on his initial play. I decide to avoid taking the wound by playing shock to the system. I resource a fortress and attack Phoenix who does nothing but trade stuns but not wounds. I use the fortress to activate Luke’s Impervious Skin.

On Kirk’s 2nd turn he just adds another resource and has no one to recruit. He has no attacks either and passes. I have no recruitment to make other than gaining two more experience. I have another Fortress to activate my Impervious Skin one more time as I attack into his defenseless Phoenix. Phoenix 2 wounds, Luke Cage 0.

Turn 3 gets a little better for Kirk as he resources an Arcadia, with an Academy and a face down resourced already. He recruits Pixie and she Hides behind Phoenix since there are no attacks to be made.

My turn 3 I level up and recruit a Cosmo after resourcing a Training Ground. I name Pixie with my Cosmo. I have a Call in hand and another copy of Cosmo. The only attacks he can make add up to three and there are no powerups for Phoenix. This allows me to fade a turn in the case Kirk has Singularity for his next turn. I can’t stun both characters though because I was not able to draw a yellow source in order to activate his Power Man and … super power.

(Pixie sticks her neck out, hoping to overcome a case of the “Nullified” if Dr. Sing can make a house call soon)

Kirk did have the Singularity and was able to play it out and hide his Pixie in the Pocket Dimension which will allow him to activate her the following turn if she survives.

Turn 4 I play She-Hulk with Cosmo still in the back row with a +1+1 counter on him but he is not neutralizing anyone any more. Still no yellow so I just have my two attacks. I stun Singularity and then I stun Phoenix. This is her fourth wound while Luke has no wounds. The problem though is Kirk has Pixie still and she is ready to rock. I was unable to close out game one but I did realize how poorly I was playing along with never getting a Yellow resource which would allow me to get some much needed help from Iron Fist. Game one I showed how rusty I was with this deck and I was not aware of how good Moon Knight could be with Loki in the deck.

(Pixie, Singularity, Valkyrie and Phoenix’s combos soon locked Luke Cage down)

I hunkered down for game two hoping to turn my poor play around.

I chose to play first and had an opening hand with a Sanctum Sanctorum, Academy, and a Training Ground along with Super Senses, Moon Knight and a Luke Cage for a Power Up. I noticed how much I needed Iron Fist in the first game but never got the resources to really support him. This time around that was not the case. I was able to draw a nice curve after turn 3 in which I was able to play Cosmo and cheat out Iron Fist.

(It felt like Phoenix would have a strong start with Iceman and Pixie, but Luke would engage the help of Iron Fist this game to turn the tide)

This match-up became exposed when I figured out it was easy to get the first six wounds on Phoenix. That last one usually is the hardest because Phoenix has usually leveled by then. I realized I just needed to hold my one copy of Ghost Rider for the final stun when the discard pile was at 7 or better. If I had two available then this changes because you just want to start recruiting the Ghost Rider each turn with Valkyrie’s Chooser of the Slain super power. I was going to make the wrong play on turn 7 by playing Ghost Rider. Kirk had landed his Valkyrie on his turn 6. But that is the only character he had on the board at the time. He had 5 wounds as well. Valkyrie attacked Iron Fist and was stunned from his Iron Fist Punch super power activation. So I had two options to use to stun Phoenix on turn 7. I was going to try and punt by recruiting my only available copy of Ghost Rider over grabbing the Punisher out of the discard pile with Valkyrie for the 6th wound on Phoenix this turn, but I remembered that turn 7 was where Valkyrie and Phoenix could cause some recursion shenanigans with Ghost Rider and Iceman to begin locking up the board not allowing any more stuns on Phoenix from attacks. I’d probably need to save Ghost Rider. I was able to make the correct play of recruiting Punisher and attacking to get the sixth wound. On Kirk’s turn he dis get several characters on the board but Singularity was not available. Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare from my hand was all she wrote after his big recovery turn. This game set the tone for me and I was now prepared to pilot this deck the way it was meant to be.

(Turn 7, Phoenix was able to play Emma Frost, which leveled Phoenix up allowing her to resurrect the Ghost Rider, and Valkyrie used the last resource and a yellow to bring in Iceman- but Eric saving his Ghost Rider for the last wound on Phoenix won out)

Game three I drew another resource heavy hand along with Shock to the System, Super Senses and a Power Up for Luke. The game played out even better this time around. I was able play Cosmo and cheat out Iron Fist on turn 3 again.

(A grim start for Phoenix as she’s locked down early by Cosmo and unable to protect Singularity with both Luke and Iron Fist staring her down)

My resources kept flowing along with recruiting Moon Knight followed by a Miss America for turn 5. The wounds piled up every turn for Phoenix and my board was becoming immense. My turn 6 Loki_2 pretty much sealed the deal by allowing me to get Moon Knight to an 11/11 in order to stun his Valkyrie who had just gotten Angry with two +1+1 counters followed by a Shock to the System on my attacking Moon Knight. I had used all the cards in my hand except for a Shock to the System and a Valkyrie who would just be my happy turn 7 play setting up my turn eight or nine Ghost Rider who was pitched into the discard to get Moon Knight to his sixth +1+1 counter. The Cosmo never left play and when Kirk leveled up he was unable to activate From the Ashes and even though he was able to recruit Iceman 8 times with Valkyrie on his turn 9, it was not enough to avoid another Penance Stare from the Ghost Rider.

(Eric and Luke figured out the path to victory over Phoenix and her KO pile shenanigans)

This deck is definitely a top seed in my book. It was good before when Ashley Knox shared his article before, but with Call added to the mix, he truly is the Powe Up Man!

Thanks Ashley for this one! I tried to screw this match-up up as well, but corrected course and was able to pull off the Victory.

Next match we have on deck is 3rd Seed Deadpool VS. 14th Seed Star-Lord!