By: John Tatta
In testing for Origins and just playing the game post Defenders/A-Force in general, one of my favorite decks to play was a Professor X combo deck that utilized Singularity and Valkyrie to do some pretty neat things. While the rest of the world is figuring out what the best Thanos build is, we tried something a little different and tried to find the best/most fun non-Thanos deck. From the very beginning, Professor X was a favorite of mine. His playstyle really called to me and I thought that his level two superpower was exceptional in controlling the game and promptly ending it if you could do it more than one time. When The Defenders was released cards like Electro and Purple Man were both pretty much automatically inclusions in the deck as just more control. If I controlled all of the supporting characters in play then I couldn’t possibly lose right? It was a really great strategy but Thanos was still really difficult to beat.
A-Force was released and not much changed in the Thanos department but Professor X improved quite a bit. Gaining access to Wasp and Singularity was pretty big as was potentially playing Build A Better World to recycle Academy and Laboratory. Other A-Force characters seemed pretty solid for the deck, like Phoenix and Miss America, and it looked like things were finally coming together. Leading up to Origins, even up to the week before, Professor X was testing extremely well vs the non-Thanos field. Luke Cage was practically a bye, most aggro decks couldn’t get through Iceman and Wasp, and control decks got buried late game by just getting their best characters stolen and used against them for a turn. Singularity was performing like the superstar that she is and the deck was operating like a well-oiled machine. Then we played it a bunch against Thanos. Then I cried a bit. While the Thanos match up isn’t unwinnable, it’s extremely bad for you. The way to have a chance to beat Thanos is to not use any of your blue locations until post-gauntlet unless absolutely necessary. You need a way to rebuild and being able to ensure a character drop is part of the solution. Court Death is also really bad for you but there’s no way around that unfortunately.
Now, all that out of the way, there are several ways to approach a Professor X build. As an aside I’ll admit that Professor X has more “builds” than any other MC that I’ve experimented with. His play style is so unique to the game that a myriad of teams and characters make it work. Finding the right mix is tough but many cards are pretty staple for the deck. Here is the approach that I took when building the deck:
This is the latest incarnation of the deck and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not an easy deck to play. You spend a lot of time avoiding wounds and not really doing much to the opposing MC until the point where you kind of lock them out. The “lock” per se is Singularity with the “appear” characters. You win the game with Ghost Rider stunning the opposing MC more than anything else but can win by attacking as well of course. You control the game with Professor X and Purple Man stealing characters and Iceman alongside Wasp to stop any attacks. Singularity is really the glue for the deck. While you can combo Valkyrie with 2x iceman/Wasp she’s really in the deck to get back Singularity. Oftentimes the turn after I recruit Valkyrie I’ll use her to get back Singularity, then grab a dead Iceman or Wasp and blink them. It’s okay if Singularity dies every turn, eventually you’ll reach a point where you can Valkyrie every turn and just keep getting her back.
A lot of people have complained about Luke Cage being a “stall” deck and winning often in time but I have never played a deck as slow moving as Professor X. Some of the main reasons I decided not to play him at Origins were that it often takes longer than 30 minutes to win a game, the poor Thanos matchup, and being difficult to play well during a long day. I think if I had played another twenty or so games with the deck I would have been able to pilot it well enough to finish games but I promise you that this isn’t a deck that you want to jam together and then enter a tournament with a time limit.
Some tips to help you play the deck a bit faster and learn some of the nuances along the way:
Mulligan for a hand with at least a blue location. Being able to Cerebro early is part of what makes the deck work. The deck has many 1-drops so drawing into them will just happen naturally. You don’t need to mulligan for Iceman or Wasp but having them is obviously beneficial. Having a blue location –and- Singularity already is just icing on the cake and frees you up to turn 1 Cerebro for a 1-drop that you might not have yet. (Note that against Thanos you never want to use a blue until after Infinity Gauntlet.)
Turns 1-3 will almost always be the same. Cerebro for Singularity, setup Iceman and Wasp to be blinked, protect Professor X to the best of your abilities. Wasp is the best character to do this. Once Singularity is out the midgame begins.
Turns 4-6 is when you start to setup a soft lock. Singularity keeps blinking out your characters (including Professor X) and will sacrifice herself often to bring back everything and lock them down again. Valkyrie will hopefully come down on turn 6 and you can start to bring back Singularity from the KO pile along with the sacrificial Iceman and Wasp (and probably a Cosmo) to just repeat the soft lock. Cerebro ensures that you find the missing combo pieces.
Turns 7-9 is when you start to solidify things and try to end the game. At this point it’s not uncommon to never have attacked at all the entire game but that’s about to change. Use Ghost Rider to get some stuns, use Professor X to steal and trade opponent’s characters, and use Purple Man when you can to steal what’s left. You can protect him by sticking him behind Singularity – when they KO Singularity, Iceman and Wasp should come back keeping Purple Man safe.
That’s a pretty basic primer, and you’ll have a lot of decision trees throughout the game, but most every game plays out that way. Thank you for reading and next week I’ll cover another MC that doesn’t see a lot of play – Iron Man!