ArticlesGuest Article – Battle Planning by Numbers

Alex TruellAugust 29, 2018

Editors Note: For many players, building a MetaX deck is an entertaining aspect of the game all on its own. The challenge of finding the perfect strategy, ratios, and personal flair or tech options is relished, and the wide-open nature of deck building gives rise to many personal styles and processes. In this series of articles, guest author Alex Truell discusses his own personal methods for approaching deck building in MetaX!

Battle Cards could easily be called the most complicated part of deck building.  Once you’ve wrapped your head around the unusual restrictions on copies of numbers spread across stat types (others have explained this thoroughly, so I won’t take the time to do so here), you need to decide which stat types, ranks, and effects fit your roster best.

If you already have a firm roster of characters you want to build around, spread them out on the table and look for commonalities.  What’s the minimum rank a character has in your dominant stat?  Is your deck stacked toward your maximum rank in that stat? How important is it that everyone can play every battle card?

Let’s say you’re playing a Rogues Gallery deck focused on XR Catwoman – Burglar Extraordinaire.  Your maximum rank in the deck is a 7 Intelligence (on The Joker – Romantic), and 7 Intelligence Battle Cards have some pretty great effects- but Joker is the only one in the deck who can play it, and he’s a Support character.  Your Champions (the characters you want to make attacks with) are Catwoman and Mr. Freeze.  In that case, you probably want a Battle Card lineup that tops out at 5, so they can both play any card you draw.

(Editor’s Note: Read more about Alex’s character type definitions in last week’s article!)

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Diversity in stat types is useful for netting those TKOs, and since that method of dropping a character has nothing to do with numbers, it’s easy to add diversity with the lower ranks.  The lower the rank of a Battle card, the more decks can splash it in- there’s a reason why the ‘staples’ (like Grodd’s 2 Intelligence) are lower ranked cards!  But not all character lineups have a 2nd stat in common- and some decks (such as decks based around Ra’s al Ghul – Assassin and Electrify) may need predictable Battle Card types.

Beyond the stat types, Battle Card ranks need to be considered.  Easy shorthand is a 6-7 rank Battle Card will KO a defender, 4-5 allow your weaker characters to attack or block while still threatening opposing characters, while 3 and below are played for the effects or with the specific aim of gaining a VP.  Think about what your deck needs to do to succeed.  If you don’t need to keep characters off your opponent’s board, lower ranks are easier to pair across a variety of characters and usually gain MP rather than costing it.  If you need to ensure enemies won’t be around to block a second time, go for the upper ranks.  Another consideration: 6s and 7s will almost always go to the discard pile after use, while low-rank Battle Cards can get stuck to enemies.

And then there are effects.  I’d argue that these are the biggest component of decision-making for Battle Cards (though, obviously, your deck needs to be able to play a card before its effect can even be considered).  It’s tempting to be drawn toward the staples and widely-considered ‘best effects’, but give consideration to effects that synergize with your characters and your deck’s primary goals.  You’d be surprised at the Battle Cards found in the top 8 from GenCon.

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As a last step, I go over my Battle Card lineup and check the MP costs. You need to make sure you can afford them! A deck with durable characters may struggle to generate MP and need their Battle Cards to help with that. On the flipside, your deck may be hoarding MP and need to spend more to make the most of that asset (Events can also take care of that).

Your deck’s Battle Cards will remain a subject for constant revision. Every game has the potential to alter your opinion of their merits, or cause you to question if a card should be a 1- or 2-of instead of a 3-of. Battle Cards offer answers to problematic strategies; they’re often local meta choices. And even when you feel you’ve got your deck right where you want it, expect to revisit them with every new release.

(Header image background artwork by Alayna Lemmer-Danner)

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