Showdown #8 – Rhino

Welcome to the start of season 2 of our Showdown series!  We start each season with a low tier villain and this time it’s Rhino.  To make him a bit more of a challenge we’ve decided to replace the default module, Bomb Scare, with a tougher one, Running Interference.  Tombstone is a beefy minion, but cards like All Tied Up and Media Coverage can be quite oppressive.  Should be fun!

THE HEROES

Against Rhino will be the following Heroes:

  • Aggression – Hawkeye [Tim]
  • Justice – Spider-Man [James]
  • Leadership – Doctor Strange [James]
  • Protection – Captain America [Tim]

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 – HAWKEYE

[Tim] I was happy to get Hawkeye in the draft this season (he was my 2nd pick).  With his wide variety of arrows he can dish out a lot of damage quite quickly.  I paired him with the Aggression aspect to double down on that idea.

Hawkeye is quite fragile, so I included Hulk and Spider-Girl just to defend him, as well as the usual Nick FuryBrawn and Sentry were included because they are two of the best allies in the game.  It would only be in desperate situations that I’d use them to block with.

Hawkeye’s Bow is a weapon, so along with Jarnbjorn I would have access to two weapons to use for Mean Swing.  You obviously don’t want to use his bow for that all the time, as you need to exhaust the bow to fire an arrow, but there would be occasions where it would be useful (and hilarious) to slap someone with a bow.  I also included three copies of Skilled Strike so that Hawkeye could punch hard.

Drop Kick made the cut, so along with Electric Arrow I would have five stun effects in the deck.  A couple of copies of Piercing Strike were also included, basically as less good versions of Vibranium Arrow.  Rhino gets a Tough status fairly often so I thought that these would come in handy.

The rest of the card choices were fairly standard stuff, but Endurance is particularly important for Hawkeye since he starts on only 9 Hit Points!

Results

  1. WIN, 12 rounds
  2. WIN, 6 rounds
  3. WIN, 7 rounds
  4. LOSS, 2 rounds (Threat)
  5. WIN, 7 rounds

4-1 is not a bad record.  I was hoping for 5-0, but Rhino managed a cheeky win in game 4 thanks to a Sniper Shot from Hawkeye’s nemesis set.

As for changes, I’d take out Combat Training and Martial Prowess as neither seemed particularly useful.  In their place I would add more allies to block for Hawkeye, probably Tigra and Valkyrie just because they are the cheapest.

Overall it was fun using Hawkeye and I’m definitely going to try and draft him again next season!


JUSTICE – SPIDER-MAN

[James] Not a lot to say about the construction of this deck as it’s pretty standard for Justice. 

The usual allies are here; Agent Coulson is useful for thwarting, and can grab Counterintelligence to provide a little threat protection or simply use as a resource. Daredevil remains one of my favourite allies even if his cost has seen him not be played in some of my recent Justice decks, Jessica Jones is a good attacker who can become a very good thwarter if things are snowballing, and Quake is just a cheap blocker. 

As for events I included Clear the Area to manage threat whilst maintaining tempo with the potential card draw, and Stealth Strike to keep Rhino’s handful of minions in check. I also included a single copy for the new Justice card from the recent Ant-Man Hero pack, Lay Down the Law, as an emergency threat remover after healing up as Peter Parker. All these cards being mental resources is also relevant for Black Cat.

Finally, I included Beat Cop and Under Surveillance to help keep threat under control.

Results

  1. WIN, 6 rounds
  2. WIN, 6 rounds
  3. WIN, 8 rounds
  4. WIN, 5 rounds
  5. WIN, 12 rounds

Spider-Man pulls off a clean sweep. I know it’s only Rhino but I’m still very happy with this result. The inclusion of Running Interference proved to not make too much of a difference. However, things did get a bit precarious in Game 5 thanks to having to deal with Tombstone. He quickly fell to a Black Cat activation and a Swinging Web Kick, but then I failed to draw any more attack events and that really prolonged the game.

Despite it being my favourite aspect I’ve been a bit down on Justice lately due to the lack of any real variety in the decks you can build with it. The “Good Stuff” deck it does produce though is always fun to pilot, and I’m already looking forward to my second outing with Justice this Showdown.


LEADERSHIP – DOCTOR STRANGE

[James] The idea behind this deck is to hide behind walls of allies until I can cheese Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, which is pretty much the only way Doctor Strange can win with his low damage output. Towards that end I went very heavy on the allies, including eleven in total.

Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Maria Hill, Squirrel Girl, Stinger, and Wonder Man are all included primarily as cheap blockers to combine with Seven Rings of Raggadorr (because why win or lose a game when you can just prolong it?). I also included Ant-Man, Goliath, and Vision as higher costed options to help deal additional burst damage, or just keep the board clear of minions. Mockingbird and Nick Fury are also here to abuse with Rapid Response.

As for events I just stuck to the standard playset of Get Ready, which helps ramp up the damage you can deal per turn with the heavy hitting allies or get an extra activation out of Wong, and two copies of Make the Call for ally recursion. I considered cutting back on the allies to run Haymaker (blasphemy I know) so Strange could attack more, but decided the extra bodies were more important for Heroic mode.

Since I’m running so many allies I opted to include The Triskelion for the extra ally slot. I also included Endurance to make Strange a little less squishy, and a copy of The Sorcerer Supreme for the boost to hand size. 

Results

  1. WIN, 5 rounds
  2. WIN, 10 rounds
  3. WIN, 7 rounds
  4. LOSS, 9 rounds (Damage)
  5. WIN, 9 rounds

It’s been a while since I last played Doctor Strange, and this Showdown reminded me why; he’s just so dull to play. With one exception the games felt like they dragged on because if you don’t have access to his “I Win” invocation, and ideally a copy of Master of the Mystic Arts too, he simply struggles to do any real damage. Sure, he has a lot of under-costed and overpowered utility in that deck, but none of it actually wins games. 

The deck as a whole performed well, which is to be expected from Leadership, with the only real challenge coming from the increased tempo of Heroic mode. Despite a very good result these games have still left me feeling a little flat. Maybe that’s the real price of magic…


PROTECTION – CAPTAIN AMERICA

[Tim] I’d be using Captain America on Heroic 1 difficulty, so even though it’s only Rhino I would be facing, it was likely to still be a challenge.

I went for a stunlock build, including as many stun effects as possible.  To go along with Captain America’s Heroic Strike, there would also be Iron Fist, Mockingbird, and Tackle.  This would make a total of eight stun effects.

I included a new card, Muster Courage, because being able to give out multiple Tough status tokens is very powerful (take a look at Doctor Strange’s Seven Rings of Raggadorr for example).  I was interested to see how good the card was, but at worst it was another physical resource to help with the Heroic Strike and Tackle kickers.

Momentum Shift and Energy Barrier would both help me stay in Hero form a bit longer, so three copies of each were included.  The Night Nurse would help me remove the many Stun effects that Rhino can deal.

Results

  1. LOSS, 6 rounds (Threat)
  2. WIN, 10 rounds
  3. LOSS, 7 rounds (Threat)
  4. WIN, 12 rounds
  5. WIN, 10 rounds

Those games were hard!  My first loss was to being All Tied Up and not able to immediately remove it, meaning that I was stuck in Alter Ego form and unable to remove any threat.  My loss in game 3 was caused by the usual method of defeat against Rhino, Advance.

I very nearly lost in game 4, but a timely Shield Toss cleared the field of Tombstone, Baron Zemo, Sandman, and a Hydra Mercenary.

I was impressed with the usefulness of Muster Courage, and would probably include another copy at the expense of Momentum Shift.


SUMMARY

[Tim] Spider-Man wins the first Showdown of season 2, with a clean sweep against Rhino!  This continues Spider-Man’s 100% win record in the Showdown series.  How much longer can he keep this up?

In joint second place were Doctor Strange and Hawkeye with 4 wins each, which was a good result.  In fourth place was Captain America with 3 wins.  Playing on Heroic difficulty is definitely keeping him in check.

James starts the season in the lead, 9-7.  Obviously it’s early days yet, but winning 9/10 games is a great start.  Our next showdown is versus Red Skull and I’ll be using my Hulk Leadership deck (as featured in Hulk & Friends).  See you next time!

Cheers,

Tim & James

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