Thursday, September 18, 2008

How I Learned to Love MWS

Instead of rambling about how I'm "back" or going to try and post daily again, instead I'm just going to post and if you're out there, I appreciate it. I know somebody has been visiting every week, I've had hits and all. Sorry I didn't have anything for you before now.

Before this last two weeks the only thing I could tell you about MWS is that it's terrible and doesn't work and ugly and annoying and gives me conniptions. I couldn't remember specifics, but the first time I tried it, I could not for the life of me to get it installed properly. It wouldn't let me switch from library mode to deck editor mode and I couldn't get the cards out of the Magic template. You know, all squashed up inside the little art box? Ugh, I hated that so much.

I don't like Magic, I play it, because it's there. I know players and we have fun. It's very casual. I enjoy myself, but it's just... Not the same. It's so frustrating. To see my beloved VS squeezed into a Magic card hit some psychological nerve with me. After a couple days I just jettisoned it all, chucked it, deleted it, round filed it and didn't look back.

After all, OCTGN worked very well, it was easy to find the sets and I don't play online nearly enough to justify trying to force it. The online tournaments I had played at the time had all been on OCTGN or the precursor for online VS play Apprentice. I was resistant to switching from Apprentice to OCTGN at the time, but I actually LIKED OCTGN. I _still_ like OCTGN.

Really, I do.

But you know what else I like? I like Little Deck. I love Little Deck. It's such a brilliant format. It's like constructed sealed. Sealed is one of my favorite formats. Not draft, which is fun, but sealed. The only problem in sealed is bad packs = bad packs. Hard to beat the guy who opened two Faces, Yellowjacket, Beetle AND Joystick.

So, when Flashback81, now the newly appointed VSRealms Online Tournament Organizer (in caps because it's an official title!), told me about putting together an online Little Deck tournament for his big 2000th post I was very excited. OCTGN he said!

Suuuch a dirty, dirty liar. Hehe. After a public vote willed things the way of MWS I was in a terrible dilemma. To play Little Deck I had to soil my PC with MWS again. This was a new PC, a PC that hadn't been there to see the horrors of MWS before. I could scar it's young soul! What to do, what to do!

Being something of an unintentional masochist I asked Flashback to help me get MWS installed so I could play. I really, really wanted to play. This time things went better. I had a bit of a snag trying to install the sets, but Flashback got it all straightened out real quick and thank the heavens it actually WORKED! Holy crap, I was not prepared for that! I had no idea what to play so I grabbed my box of Little Decks (I have 10 put together) and started looking through them. Most are pretty horrible, because I just threw them together with whatever I had lying around.

Little Deck isn't supposed to be good, it's supposed to be fun. :)

After paring it down to three choices that seemed to play pretty well in the games I've had I was left with Crisis Doom, SecSoc/Manhunters Deckout and Suicide Sinister Syndicate. My choice was easy. Not because I'm a power monger (I am) or because I thought it would do well (I did), but simply because Little Deck offers a unique chance that no other format does.

In Little Deck you can very well decimate an opponent by depleting their deck and leaving them with NO resources but a vastly dwindling hand. The Deck Out, which is deadly in Magic is non-existent in VS. Deck out is one strategy I really enjoy in Magic. So to try it out in VS was attractive. Here's the problem, it's not that it's just "deadly" in Little Deck, it's that it's EASY and that it's a painful, brutal process.

BANNED IN THE V S R (Online Little Deck Tournament)

1 Drop

Lana Lang, Manhunter Sleeper
Manhunter Clone, Clone of Paul Kirk
Riddler, Riddle Me This
2 Drop
Dr. Sivana, Mad Scientist
James Jesse <> Trickster, Giovanni Giuseppe
3 Drop
Floronic Man, Jason Woodrue
Kate Spencer <> Manhunter, Vigilante Justice
Manhunter Soldier, Army
Quakemaster, Robert Coleman
4 Drop
Black Cat, Felicia Hardy
Felix Faust, Dark Bargain
Gorilla Grodd, Grodd Awful
Pan, Manhunter Duplicate
5 Drop
Black Manta, Underwater Marauder
Hank Henshaw <> Cyborg, Manhunter Grandmaster
Manhunter Giant, Army
6 Drop
Manhunter Conqueror, Grandmaster
7 Drop
Solomon Grundy, Buried On A Sunday

Gorilla City
Slaughter Swamp

Plot Twists
Attend or Die!
Funky's Big Rat Code
Sorcerer's Treasure
The Fall of Oa
Unnatural Selection
With Prejudice

Turns out, I'm not the only person who was going for the Deck Out. When Flashback WISELY banned the purposeful attempt to mill your opponent's deck into the KO'd pile an outpouring of people posted about their need for a new deck now. How sick is it?

Turn 3 in one game, Manhunter Clone double evaded on turns one and two, Riddler and Lana Lang came out on two with Funky's Big Rat Code, Kate Spencer stunned their two on three, I played Overpowered, I replayed it with Sorcerer's Treasure. I then drew my deck with Fall of Oa. I didn't even need Overpowered twice, I just did it because I could. lol He only had one card left on the Sorcerer's Treasure replay. It took me three more turns to kill him even though he missed 5 and 6 because he had one card in hand and played it as a resource on turn 5.

Yes, it's that sick. Worse yet? I did it in much the same way with a few differences in a game I played after the ban came down. That was 2 out of 3 games with a turn 3 deck out. So, there's ONE problem with Little Deck. While the format is genius, it's not perfect. Enemy and Mobilize are banned, can't have anything but one of's in your deck... But the Red Robots from Space break the format in half. I think the only way to work around the problem is to ban the deckout concept. Which is kind of hard. Maybe cards milled by an opponent should be put into a secondary KO'd pile and when your deck is empty, that's shuffled into your deck? Fall of Oa still lets them pick up their deck, but it doesn't let them pick up their deck and smack you in the face with it.

In any case, this isn't about the (one) problems with Little Deck, this is about loving MWS!

Needing a new deck I didn't really think about it until the pairings went up, in fact I didn't install MWS until the day before that. I was paired up with the Lost Hemisphere's own Captain Spud. When he contacted me about playing the next day is when it suddenly hit me that I should build a deck.

I opened MWS and figured I'd try the deck editor out to start with. I needed to get used to it and the best way to test a deck editor, in my opinion, is to see if you can build a deck from scratch with just their filters.

Well, you cannot build a deck from scratch with JUST MWS' deck editor. Well, you can but it's a pain in the ass. I had to use the fantastic little website DocX give's us over at, my home page. I do not like MWS' deck editor at all, but it does it's job well enough to pass. Throwing together a Thunderbolts deck mostly focused on their "Growth" theme emboldened me to try another.

After thinking back to my previous choices I thought, "Let's play with the Syndicate a bit." Because, after all, I've always loved Spidey's rogue's gallery. Even back in Web of Spiderman, as bad as they sucked, I thought that Sinister Syndicate had some AMAZING drops. Stuff like Tombstone: Lonnie Lincoln, Hammerhead: Gangster (he's a GANGSTER yo!) Vulture: Adrian Toomes, Green Goblin: Norman Osborn and Goblin Glider scream out for blood.

Suicide Syndicate (more fitting than you know!)

1 Drop

Basilisk, Basil Elks
Fusion, Markley
Doppleganger, Killer Clone
Razorfist, Sociopathic Mercenary
Slyde, Jalome Beacher
Tinkerer, Phineas Mason
Tombstone: Lonnie Lincoln
Vulture: Adrian Toomes
2 Drop
Electro, Shock Jock
Swarm, Fritz Von Meyer
Hammerhead, Gangster
Shriek, Frances Barrison
Silvermane, Silvio Manfredi
Trapster, Peter Putski
3 Drop
Bullseye, Assassin For Hire
Venom, Mac Gargan
Spider-Man Robot, Timespinner
4 Drop
Carnage, Psychopath
5 Drop
Green Goblin, Norman Osborn

Goblin Glider

Doc Ock's Lab

Plot Twists
Blinding Rage
Crushing Blow
Flying Kick
Legacy of Evil
Sadistic Choice
Sand Trap
Savage Beatdown
Sinister Salvo
Spider Hunt
Spider Slayers

Well, this is what I decided to play. Oh noes! My secret tech! lol To put it mildly I don't think I have to worry. Even without warning I have been severely trounced in both rounds one and two. The first match against Spud was a nicely thematic beating with Spider-Man and a motley crew providing the beat down.

(You can read a report by Spud at the Realms in the following post.)

Ironically, the second round was against Pi_3.14159 who you should all know from his awesome blog in my links over to the left. The irony is he played a Counter Growth deck based mostly around the Thunderbolts. I wasn't too surprised as I know he plays a full size deck around the theme after all.

In anycase, while having to mulligan Carnage, Bullseye and Green Goblin in my opening hand against Spud could have cost me the match in round one, in round two I had a pretty dang good draw and still got absolutely trounced.

But I had fun. I always have fun when playing VS System.

The thing is I had fun and it was very easy. Which is not always the case with online play. MWS wasn't just easy, it was COOL! With Spud talking me through it I learned the ropes and some of the features are just awesome. I wish there was a graphical reference for your KO'd pile so you could see the cards, but that's a minor complaint. Also would be nice to roll over your face down resources and be able to see them, like OCTGN, but again... Minor complaint.

The thing that makes MWS super awesome and, now in my opinion, better than OCTGN?

The arrows. You can right click your card and drag to another, drop it on and you get a big red arrow from your card to the other card. Why is that so helpful? Well, instead of typing, "Declare an attack on Spider-Man with Venom" you just right click Venom and drop him on Spidey. Have an effect that targets? You can shift click, drag a card and drop it on the target and you get a big YELLOW arrow to the card.

Man does that sound like a silly reason to love something now that I type it out.

I don't care. I love MWS for the arrows. The arrows are awesome! The arrows are WIN! And besides making the game play easier, they've got another thing going for them. As I sat staring at a board with 4-5 arrows going all over the place as effects and attacks piled up... It reminded me of one of the reasons I love VS System itself.

The tangle of arrows was a perfect representation of the complex computations that go into a game of VS. It was like looking at my thought process during a game graphed out. That is cool. Very cool. I love MWS.