Take me to your LEADER !

By: Ashley Knox

Wow.

Maybe I’m looking at all these spoilers through rose tinted glasses but today’s spoiler is a real treat. I’ll be honest I don’t know much about Cyclops but I know a thing or two about this game and I think this card is great.

So what are we looking at here?

First off we are looking at an X-men main character that actively rewards you for playing on team, you level up by playing more X stamped supporting characters and with the current card pool that is guaranteed to be turn 4-5 assuming you curve out and perhaps as early as turn three if there are some cheaper characters spoiled.

From the top of the card text we see something else: Leader.

Leader is a very powerful ability in such a combat focused game as you can use it in a multitude of ways to force your opponent to make poor decisions in combat. In the early game you get to use it to push damage onto cyclops as it’s unlikely to stun a 5 Defense character and in the late game you get to push the damage onto a beefier or expendable characters just to keep your main character out of harms way. I really love that leader can be thematically heroic or villainous and perhaps this means we could see a Villainous Leader in our future?

An example could be, on your turn one you play Magik – team attack into the opponents main character and force them to strike back at Cyclops. This is massive in terms of tempo advantage as you’re up a wound and a character in play so your opponent has to spend their next turn dealing with Magik before you get to spiral out of control with an imposing and wide attacking force. It’s at this point that the old classic Uncanny Defense comes into play and you get to trade cards for time and I really enjoy this kind of tempo game play and I feel like this card and team design is more about being tricky and hard to deal with in its aggression.

Onto the abilities, Battle Tactics is deceptively powerful. Want to range attack from the back but then move to the front as a blocker? Check. Want to slam Beast ferociously into your opponents front row but then let him relax on the back bench to trigger Genius in your next turn? Sounds like some good battle tactics to me!

So how about that level two ?

My oh My what do we have here? 13 points of stats and keeping ranged? Sign me up.

The new ability of Optic Blast creates some new questions – are we getting more Cyclops cards? are we getting a Havok? I honestly don’t know but for two blue resources you get to stun any front row character is a really powerful ability and your opponent has to respect it. It really keeps in the theme of the deck I’m imagining where you really get to mess about with the core elements of the game – the formation and the combat steps.

I’ve been really hyped about this card and in fact all of the spoilers because I’m a card game player and we’re all hyperbolic all the time everything is either the greatest thing ever or the worst thing ever and there is nothing in between. Knowing this however means I should meter myself and lay out some of the more balanced arguments.

Firstly five wounds is really not a lot, but on the flip side you have the Leader ability so you should rarely (never?) be taking a wound on your own turn unless you want to and the ability to close out the game quickly by removing a key blocker so you can get in there and win the game.
Secondly, the first ability is not super exciting but it does have some great utility and this means it can free up your location choices so you can use your reds for something else – Yondu perhaps? If you really want to crush that Dark Phoenix match up this character gives you exactly what you need. HUGE TEAM ATTACKS and lots of disruption, now Cosmo got toned down a little bit I feel like this really has a chance to take my queen off her perch as top girl.

What we really want to get into though, is what does Cyclops unlock? Who do I get to have a beautiful reunion with?

Squad Tactics & Loyal Soldiers. I’m cheating a little here by getting a two for one but I really think this is the time for a loyal soldiers deck to shine and as your premise is based upon team attacking it’s a huge bonus that you get to play with squad tactics too. People have tried this with Deadpool and Wolverine and that has worked really well but both of those were mostly played as one man armies this is something different. (You also get to play Deadpool and Wolverine supporting characters too which is just all upside)

I think that Uncanny Defense just fits in with the strategy perfectly. Denying your opponent the opportunity to make critical combat decisions. You are Scott Summers, battle tactician. You make the rules on who blocks and who gets blocked and this is just so powerful in a game where the outcome of the game is decided on combat.

Beast truly lives up to his name. He is a ferocious beast, I haven’t seen this card in play for a long time but I look forward to drawing three cards a turn again. Imagine the scenario – Cyclops recruits Beast they team attacks stunning a character and then Cyclops uses Battle Tactics to hide Beast in the back row to keep the Genius ability safe. This Battle Tactics dance feeds itself too as you get to draw more cards so you hit the reds and more importantly the double blue locations so you get to Optic Blast any problematic front row characters.

Namor is an excellent two drop – not too dissimilar to Black Panther with three power and two wounds – though he is much more aggressive and has disruptive capabilities. Though his easiest prey Cosmo has taken a slight downgrade being able to play very efficient threats gets to outweigh your slow leveling process and as Namor has two wounds you can shift a wound to him in combat knowing he’ll still be here in your next turn. On a personal note I haven’t had a Namor in play since Storm was the go-to beat-down deck in the Marvel Battles core set. Though more recently I was very nearly trumped by Andy Hewwit in the Telford 2.5k top 4 as he was using the Invade keyword to jump past my front row Thanos and bash my back row Dark Pheonix.

(Some other cool synergies I think that come with Cyclops MC being a leader and needing to recruit X-Men to level up are with Magik’s ability to bounce your guys. If you’re playing a weenie style deck, leader lets you make favorable attacks, then Magik can recruit them back to hand so they can’t be picked off, allowing you to re-recruit them for more XP. Have a Namor? Team attack with Him and Cyclops, put the damage on Namor who takes the wound and then Bounce Namor and Magik back to your hand, resetting the wound AND getting more XP out of them next turn! – Kirk)

Back to the card in hand Cyclops – a 2/5 is my second favorite stat block (3/4 being my absolute favorite) as you can only easily be stunned by The Perfect Organism as far as level one Main Characters go and are very resilient in terms of opposing supporting characters that early in the game.

At level two you have a 5/8 and you can only one on one get stunned by Wolverine or The Perfect Organism. I think this toughness along with the mischief he can cause in combat helps to nullify the five wounds and will make this a lot more playable than originally imagined. It’s also worth noting that some of the premier aggressive decks of their time have had five wounds when you take a look at Storm, The Dragon, and Luke Cage. Perhaps we have been spoiled with seven wound Phoenix and six wounds being the first thing that we look at when we look at a new character.

I honestly don’t know how Cyclops will do in our local game stores but I know for sure that he fills a hole that has needed filling since the base set. Our community has been shouting out for a team attack deck and now we’ve got one. Sure we had Wolverine and Deadpool but Wolverine was a one man army with X Factor and Deadpool eventually evolved into an Aliens deck.

This game is for all of us, and we all play for different reasons – some of us love crushing our opponents every time with the most tuned lists, some of us love the narrative of the games using games as an escape and a way to create our own Marvel Battles.

Thanks for reading & let me know what your favorite spoiled card has been in the comments or tag me on the Facebook collective group.