Showdown #4 – Absorbing Man

Welcome to the first Showdown of Season 1!  In our previous Showdown article we organised a schedule of Villains to face for the season then took it in turns drafting Heroes to use.  For our first outing we are taking on Absorbing Man with the Legions of Hydra encounter module.

THE HEROES

Against Absorbing Man will be the following Heroes:

  • Aggression – Hulk (Standard) [Tim]
  • Justice – She-Hulk [James]
  • Leadership – Spider-Man [Tim]
  • Protection – Captain America (Heroic) [James]

Just a reminder of the format, we play the scenario five times with each character that we have drafted and then report our results.


AGGRESSION – HULK (Standard)

[Tim] I didn’t have much luck with Hulk during our Showdown versus Ultron, but that was on Expert difficulty and Ultron is almost always a tough opponent.  This time it would be against an easier opponent and also on Standard difficulty.

Hulk was my last round pick in the draft.  Neither myself nor James were very confident in pulling off some decent results with Hulk, even though he’d be playing on a lower difficulty to the other Heroes.

I decided to assign him to fight Absorbing Man and also use the Aggression aspect (my favourite aspect!) because if the cards come out in a reasonable order I thought that Hulk could make a good account of himself.

With regards to deck choices, I just threw as many cards with physical resources into it as I could.  The only two exceptions were Brawn and Sentry, as I think that both of them are too good not to include in Aggression decks at the moment.

I think that cards like Drop Kick, Skilled Strike, Counterattack, and Jarnbjorn will all be good cards for this deck.  So how did I get on?

Results

  1. LOSS, 4 rounds (Threat)
  2. WIN, 9 rounds
  3. WIN, 7 rounds
  4. WIN, 3 rounds
  5. LOSS, 4 rounds (Threat)

Three wins and two losses, not bad!  Because I was basically ignoring the threat building up on the main scheme (for the most part, anyway), both defeats came at the hands of Stall Tactics.  That being said, unless I was able to remove some threat the following round I would have probably lost to threat anyway.

As for the deck I used, Counterattack was great and I’d increase it to three copies even though you can only have one in play at a time.  Helicarrier and Enhanced Physique are easily replaceable.  I’d probably include Resourceful over them.

I am happy enough with three wins though (it’s three more wins than I got against Ultron!).  Game 4 was a bit silly winning on the third round, but that’s what can happen when cards like Hulk Smash exist.

None of this has warmed me up to Hulk though; I still think he is terrible.  He is so adversely affected by stun and exhaust effects that you are basically flipping a coin to see if he wins.


JUSTICE – SHE-HULK

[James] This She-Hulk Justice deck is almost identical to my list from the first Showdown. It uses Clear the Area and Stealth Strike to help control the board state. Not only are these both great cards, but they each also have a mental resource so can be used to fuel Superhuman Law Division if I draw them in Alter-Ego. 

Beat Cop offers slow threat control, but can also be used to deal with a problematic minion. There are a number of Hydra Soldiers in the encounter deck, and although Stealth Strike is the prime candidate for dealing with those I’ll also be counting on Beat Cop to help keep them under control.

Counterintelligence and Under Surveillance are here to help manage threat, although I’m now only running 1x of each. This is because I need space to run another card, but also because I want to avoid hitting duplicates if I already have a copy in play. 

The ally line up is unchanged. I would have liked to include Daredevil and Nick Fury, but due to She-Hulk’s poor Hand Size it can be difficult to run 4-cost cards. Justice’s ally line up is what is holding the aspect back in my opinion. None of them are strictly bad, but the lack of choice is just not very exciting when compared to Aggression and Leadership.

The one card I’m running that’s different to the previous list is Great Responsibility. Although extremely situational I felt it could be useful here as Absorbing Man has a card that add threat to the main scheme, Stall Tactics, which can be nasty if the game goes long. It can also help with Advance and Legions of Hydra too. Not a great card by any means though, especially in solo.

Results

  1. WIN, 7 rounds
  2. LOSS, 4 rounds (Threat)
  3. WIN, 11 rounds
  4. WIN, 9 rounds
  5. WIN, 7 rounds

A pretty strong performance. Despite She-Hulk’s shortcomings she remains a Hero I enjoy playing with the Justice aspect. My stand out moment from these games came out at the end of game 5. I played Split Personality, emptying my hand to do so, and flipped back to Jennifer Walters. There were only five cards left in my deck, so I reshuffled and then top decked Gamma Slam for the win. 

Overall the deck performed well. Clear the Area, especially when used with Skilled Investigator, is such a good card to use in solo. After being disappointed with Beat Cop last time it actually did a lot of work in these games. That being said I still don’t think it’s the broken, overpowered, mess many in the community make it out to be.

The changes I would make would be to include a third copy of Stealth Strike, by cutting a Great Responsibility, and remove a copy of Beat Cop in order to add Interrogation Room.


LEADERSHIP – SPIDER-MAN

[Tim] I’ve had a lot of success with Spider-Man Leadership decks and that’s why I drafted him early on (he was my 3rd draft pick).  Spider-Man is great at a lot of things but his one big weakness is thwarting; he’s awful at it!  But that’s where Leadership comes in.

With access to lots of great allies for dealing with threat, such as Maria Hill, Falcon, and Goliath, I was confident of some good results.  With regards to Goliath, I see a lot of people focusing on the +4 Attack ability that he has, but my plan was to use him to thwart with until he is one Hit Point away from defeated then smash some face.

I decided to go with an absolute swarm of allies (and included The Triskelion to help with that) because while relatively minor, Absorbing Man does get bonus effects if his attacks go undefended.  That’s why I’ve got allies like Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Squirrel Girl, and Wonder Man, who aren’t particularly useful in this scenario, just to throw under the bus.

I included the usual one copy of Inspired because it works so well on Black Cat.  I was tempted to try using the Iron Man ally and going for some more attachments (extra copy of Inspired and also include Sky Cycle), but I think that I’ll wait for the Ant-Man pack and the Reinforced Suit attachment as well, so that I’ve got a decent number to throw in the deck.  Anyway, how did I get on?

Results

  1. WIN, 6 rounds
  2. WIN, 7 rounds
  3. WIN, 7 rounds
  4. WIN, 5 rounds
  5. WIN, 8 rounds

Spider-Man does it again, another clean sweep!  Admittedly, it’s only against a goon like Absorbing Man, but I can’t complain about a 5-0.

Make the Call and Rapid Response put in stellar work as always, and Nick Fury should also get a mention as being very handy.  Goliath did a good job as well, and I think that he is going to be a constant companion in my Spider-Man decks.

I felt in control of all of the games, even when it tried to throw some horrible stuff at me.  In one of my games I drew Legions of Hydra in the first Villain phase.  With a combination of Maria Hill and Make the Call (along with Spider-Man’s basic thwart), I was able to get rid of that side scheme during the next round, then I used Swinging Web Kick to get rid of Madame Hydra.  Problem solved!  I think that a lot of other characters might have been a bit stuck in that situation.  Go Spider-Man Leadership!


PROTECTION – CAPTAIN AMERICA (Heroic)

[James] There are two different versions of this list I’ve been toying around with, and I struggled to settle on which one I wanted to try against Heroic Absorbing Man. Ultimately I decided on the Indomitable build.

At it’s core the deck is a stunlock deck, which is going to be the best way to run Captain America Protection for a good while I feel. Iron Fist is the key component in this, and remains the aspect’s best card. I’ve also included 2x Tackle to compliment Heroic Strike, and the ever present Mockingbird.

Black Widow, Brother Voodoo and Clea are the other Protection allies I added to the list. Clea is a cheap blocker, and the other two are included for their 2 thwart value. In the absence of any thwart events I felt it necessary to include as much ally threat control as possible.

The only other event I included is Momentum Shift, which is another card I’m very fond off. Being able to maintain your health whilst still dealing a little damage is a very handy option to have, especially at higher difficulty levels. Obviously the idea of the deck is to be attacked as little as possible, but due to all the treachery cards that give the villain more attacks, and deal out indirect damage, some healing is still going to be required.

I finished the deck off with Electrostatic Armor in order to deal a little more damage if I’m forced to defend, Energy Barrier for the damage mitigation, and finally Indomitable in order to defend without losing a hero activation in the following round. 

The other build I considered dropped Indomitable to run more of a defence focused build that used Armored Vest, Unflappable and Down Time. Despite liking both lists I felt this one would have been too slow for Heroic.

Results

  1. LOSS, 6 rounds (Damage)
  2. LOSS, 4 rounds (Damage)
  3. WIN, 6 rounds
  4. WIN, 5 rounds
  5. LOSS, 7 rounds (Damage)

Truth be told after losing both practice games I did not go into the Showdown feeling overly confident, and after losing the opening two games I was expecting another 0-5 defeat. With that in mind I’m actually pretty happy about being able to pick up the two wins here.

I’d seriously underestimated just how potent the pairing of Heroic mode and Legions of Hydra was going to be, which is obviously a little silly with hindsight. The hazard icons, in addition to the extra card when forced to defeat a Hydra Soldier, just proved to much to overcome if they hit the table in the opening rounds. That aside Heroic Absorbing Man would have been a fun challenge if he was paired with his recommended module set, or maybe even Under Attack.

The deck itself felt strong to play, and Iron Fist was instrumental in my two wins. The only card I would consider changing is Tackle, which just felt unneeded when I had access to Heroic Strike.


SUMMARY

[Tim] Spider-Man (or was it just Leadership?) wins the first fixture of Showdown Season 1.  If I’m honest, I was expecting to get four or five wins with this combination.  I’m still slightly worried that I may have used one of my two Leadership picks for this season a bit too early, but at least I got the maximum number of wins with this one.

She-Hulk was in second place with a very respectable four wins.  I’ve never had much luck with her but James is doing well with the Justice pairing.

Hulk was in third place with three wins.  Aggression is my favourite aspect and I’m not sure that using one of my picks on Hulk was wise here, but three wins is okay.

Captain America had a tough go of things and only came out with two wins, putting him in fourth place this time.  Our experiment of using different difficulties for certain Heroes looks to be doing its job of balancing characters (a little bit, at least).  The encounter module choice was definitely a brutal one; Legions of Hydra is no slouch!

These are the overall standings so far.  Obviously, with this being the first Showdown of the season it’s early days yet, but I’m not going to complain about a two point lead!

Our next Showdown is against Mutagen Formula, a much more difficult scenario than Absorbing Man.  That article will be published on Wednesday 28th October, so return then to see how the season progresses.

Cheers,

Tim & James

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