Saturday, 15 January 2011

Comparing the Lanterns - part two

So, now it's on to the Green Lantern of sector 2814.3:-

Guy Gardner

Justice League gave us Gardner at Super-rare. DC75th gave us Gardner at Rare. This means that not only is the earlier Gardner (called Green Lantern in that Justice League) from an out of print set (2007), but that he was hard to get within that set. This might be mitigated by the 5 weeks of sealed tournaments held at the time, meaning potentially more boosters were opened. Meanwhile the DC75th version is not only current but easier to get than the likes of Sinestro.

Both figures are ranked as Veteran. The Justice League version represents Gardner as a member of the Green Lantern Honour Guard, while the DC75th version is Gardner while he was wielding both a Green and Red ring.
This gives the DC75th version an edge in themery as it has become an iconic, recent image of him that has proven popular with the fans of the Blackest Night storyline.
Like with Sinestro, this only denotes two important things about the pair. You can run multiples of either figure, and you can't run them in Rookie-only tournaments.

Both figures have the following Keywords; Green Lantern Corps and Justice League International. This allows you a choice when fielding thematic teams with either of these keywords.  
DC75th Gardner only adds Red Lantern Corps to his list. This allows him to theme with 2 other figures at the moment (not including White Lantern Hal Jordan), which doesn't add a huge amount of scope. Especially since their point values mean that he and Mera are a 200 point team, or the two of them and Atrocitus are a 400 point team. They do look good when fielded together though :)
Justice League Gardner instead adds Super Buddies and Warrior to his keywords. This not only gives him another team to work with that fans of the character will probably be familiar with, but it also gives him a generic one. This gives him a much wider range of figures he can theme with.

Justice League Gardner is 133 points. DC75th Gardner is 110.
This is only a differance of 13 points. Thats not much of a clincher when deciding which one to fit in a team. So the decision, if not based on Keywords, comes down to capability.

Both figures are Fliers with one lightning bolt, range 8. DC75th Gardner has two advantages. Firstly he is Indomitable and secondly he has a trait;

The Antagonist If Guy Gardner has no action tokens, he can use Close Combat Expert.

This allows him to not only act two turns in a row without pushing, but also gives him the option of being able to do more damage on the first of those actions, if he is already based by an opponent. Combine that with his other powers and he is not someone you want to be facing in close combat.  Not sure why it has the same name as DC75th Sinestro's trait though.
However, it's not all in his favour. Justice League Gardner has the Green Lantern Corp team ability. This traditionally appears to be quite expensive, but makes him very useful as a taxi, especially as more of his keywords have characters that can't fly. This seems counter-intuitive for the character though, putting him in a support role compared to his counterparts beatstick incarnation.

On his starting click, DC75th Gardner seems the stronger. Move 12 Phasing/Teleport (Green Lantern Of Sector 2814.3), Attack 11, Defense 17 Energy Shield/Deflection (Green And Red Auras) and Damage 4 Exploit Weakness (Guy, Are You Ok?, remember this can be 6 with careful positioning).
He has no soak, but high move ignoring terrain and high defense against range allow him to move up to the close combat position he wants to be in. Don't be too quick to rush him in though, as this is one of the few clicks he can make ranged attacks from.

Justice League Gardner's starting click is "interesting". Move 10 Charge (Bring It On!), Attack 10 Energy Explosion (Power Ring), Defense 16 Invulnerability (Power Ring) and Damage 2 Close Combat Expert (Troubleshooter).
Gardner here wants to be doing many things. He wants to be based so he can do more damage, but his Charge doesn't quite go with his bare damage value. He can damage grouped swarms at range though, and he does have decent soak. Shame his defence value is so low.

Dc75th Gardner switches to Charge (Reckless Attack) for two clicks, then Flurry (Rage's Red Light) for two clicks before Phasing returns on his last click. The value steadily drops til it hits 8 and stays there.
From his third click, he gains Quake (Chainsaw Swipe) for two clicks before switching to Blades/Claws/Fangs (Oh, This Chainsaw Really Works) for his last three. 10 Attack for the Quake and 9 Attack for the Blades makes him a decent close combat attacker.
His defence values steadily drop however, this Gardner doesn't care if he his hit, reaching 15 before a final click return to 16. This is accompanied by soak though. Second and fourth click Toughness (I'm The Greatest Green Lantern) sandwiching third click Energy Shield is followed by a final three clicks of Invulnerability (Honour Guard). He will get hit, but he will take plenty of damage before he falls.
Second click Exploit is accompanied by a drop to 3, from his third click he gets Battle Fury (Rarggh!) which he finally loses for his last click. This only gives him 3 clicks to take advantage of his range of 8, before he becomes a close combat maniac.
Finally, he can benefit from the Green Lantern special object for 7 of his 7 clicks and the Red Lantern special object for 4 of his 7 clicks, making either or both of these objects useful to him.

Justice League Gardner keeps his Charge for four clicks before picking up two clicks of a special power;

In Your Face Green Lantern can use Flurry. If both attacks using Flurry target a single opposing character, modify Green Lantern's damage value by +1 for the second attack.  

This is an interesting variation on Flurry, as it allows him to do more damage against one character. Shame his damage is low on these clicks, but it allows his second attack to beat soak. His last two clicks have no power, and his move ends on a very low 6.
On his third click he gains three clicks of Super Strength (Power Ring, a lot of his power have this name) before the final three get Telekinesis (Power Ring) giving him some options. His values yo-yo dropping to 8 then back to 10 then back to 8 again.
His two clicks of soak drop to two clicks of Toughness (Power Ring) then two clicks of Willpower (Arrogant) and finally two clicks of Energy Shield/Deflection (Power Ring, final time). His defence stays low with the second Willpower click spiking at 17 and his final click has a very low 14.
His initial click gives way to three clicks of Enhancement (Lantern Honour Guard) which again makes him more of a support figure and his final two clicks have Ranged Combat Expert (Beware My Power) which can give him a final bit of punch, if he isn't already based.
Finally, he can only benefit from the Green Lantern special object for 2 out of his 9 clicks, making it not worth including for just him.

This means that Justice League Gardner has 1 more click of health than his counterpart. That and his team ability means that his combat values are on average lower compared to the DC75th version than their point values would suggest.

In summary, I would much rather run the DC75th version. His focus on doing one thing means that he does it well, whereas his counterpart is trying to do so many things he does none of them reliably. He is a support figure, but because he is also an attacker he costs too much for that role, but isn't good enough to be the main attacker. At nearly half the 300 point build, he isn't up to the job. His combat values make him not even worth taking in higher builds.

Red Lantern Guy Gardner is far superior. With careful use he can tear apart figures that are twice his cost, and in 300 points you still have two thirds of your team to build with. His sculpt is also really good :)

Next time, a review of an artist.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Comparing the Lanterns - part one

Given that DC 75th Anniversary gives us new versions of the Green Lantern Corp, while there are still versions of them in Modern Age, I thought it would be worthwhile comparing the available options for the characters.

So, let's start with the greatest Green Lantern of them all:-


Crisis gave us Sinestro at Super-rare. DC75th gave us Sinestro at Super-rare. This means that within their respective sets they were both as easy to get hold of.
A consideration now if you wish to obtain these figures is that while one is in boosters currently available in stores, the other hasn't been in print since 2008. This can potentially make him harder to get. Especially as he is a popular character who will be starring in a film later this year (with Ryan Renolds playing his sidekick :p)

Both figures are ranked as Veteran. The Crisis version seens to represent Sinestro as leader of the Sinestro Corps, while the DC75th version has power names that focus specifically on the war with Mongul over leadership of the Sinestro Corps.
This gives neither an edge in themery as they aren't that far apart in time. It's probably a sympton of how much has happened involving the Lanterns in the 2 years between the sets. It's hard once you have declared one version to be Veteran, as subsequent figures either have to represent earlier versions of the character or also be Veteran.
This only denotes two important things about the pair. You can run multiples of either figure, and you can't run them in Rookie-only tournaments.

Both figures have the following Keywords; Ruler and Sinestro Corps. The Crisis version is slightly better by having the Green Lantern Corps keyword. This gives him a wider selection of figures he can theme with. Flavour-wise, it also allows you to pretend he is a much earlier version of Sinestro running him with Hal Jordan in Modern Age. That's quite and edge for that version, especially with the next consideration.

Crisis Sinestro is 146 points. DC75th Sinestro is 224.
Combined with the extra keyword, this makes the Crisis version easier to fit into teams and have them be thematic, especially at lower point versions. Meanwhile the DC75th version is closer to being a one man army in 300 points. However, costing 78 points more should make him more powerful. Not sure how much of a differance that will make, as the Crisis version can bring mor friends to the fight.

Both figures are Fliers with otherwise standard combat symbols and one lightning bolt. Both have an edge over the other though.
Crisis Sinestro has 10 range to his counterpart's 8. Meaning in a static ranged fight, he can strike with less risk of retaliation.
However, DC75th Sinestro has a trait;

The Antagonist Sinestro can use Perplex, but only to modify a defense value by -2.

This effectively gives him a plus 2 attack that he can grant to other models. This is more flexible than it sounds. If he needs to hit, he probably will. If another figure needs to hit (for Incapacitate or Mind Control) or while he is resting, then the opposing figure is in trouble. If a friendly figure needs Support used on them, he gives the medic an easier time. This is pretty strong, especially when you start looking at his stats.
It also makes you less likely to need Probability Control, a consideration when building teams with him and allows you to save theme re-rolls of defense.

Starting click wise, DC7th Sinestro is a beast. Move 12 Phasing/Teleport, Attack 12 Penetrating/Psychic Blast (The Golden Light Of Terror, remember this can be effectively 14!!), Defense 18 Toughness (Yellow Aura) and Damage 4 Leadership (The Sinestro Corps Is Still Mine).
Leadership on a figure of his cost isn't entirely useful, but is there for flavour and Golden Age  Feat Cards. The lack of move and attack and the low soak can be problematic if you aren't careful with positioning. If he gets the first strike though, he will devastate the target. 14 attack and 4 damage isn't something most figures can shrug off.

Crisis Sinestro is no slouch either. Move 10 Phasing/Teleport and Running Shot (In Blackest Day), Attack 10 Energy Explosion, Penetrating/Psychic Blast and Telekinesis (In Brightest Night), Defense 18 Toughness and Damage 3 Perplex.
He brings a lot of flexabilty for his points, being able to move others, strike hard or damage grouped swarms. He can also increase his attack or damage if needed or defense if he is mis-positioned. This doesn't entirely negate his low soak though. However, he does have the option of move and ranged attack. This makes him more likely than his counterpart to get in the first hit, and from quite a distance as well.

DC75th Sinestro picks up Running Shot (I Don't Have Time To Waste On You) mid-dial before switching back to Phasing/Teleport. His move stays pretty high to, slowly dropping through 11 and 10 to reach 9 on the final click.
He has 4 clicks of Penetrating/Psychic Blast with the final one being a 10 (or 12 if you want!) after a bare click he gains Blades/Claws/Fangs (Spiked Mace) though on the second click of that he finally drops to 9 (11!). Finally, his last 2 clicks go back to Penetrating/Psychic Blast.
After his click of Toughness he gains Impervious (Fear Barrier) which is well worth pushing onto, as he only loses a point of attack during the transition. 3 clicks of this are followed by 2 clicks of Invulnerability before ending on Toughness. His defense is mostly 17, except for the last click of Impervious and his final click, which are both 16.
After his first 2 clicks, he drops the Leadership and from the 4th he has Outwit (Do You Think Me A Fool, Mongul?). His last four introduce a special power;

Paralyzing Fear Sinestro can use Willpower. Whenever an opposing character takes damage from Sinestro's attack, you may give that character an action token after actions resolve.

This is acompanied by a 3 and three 2s. Not high values but they combine with Blades and Psychic Blast. Giving him this means he wont push to death and allows him to deal out action tokens to those he is fighting, minimizing retaliation.
Finally, he can benefit from the Yellow Lantern special object on 6 of his 9 clicks, making it worth the extra 5 points if you can keep near it.

Crisis Sinestro drops to Phasing/Teleport after 2 clicks before ending on 3 click of Charge. The values aren't bad, mostly being 8 before a final click of 6.
Mid-dial he switched to the attack power Pulse Wave (Beware Your Fears Made Into Light) before backing up his Charge clicks with Poison (Burn Like My Power). That makes for quite the combination in late game close combat. His values slowly drop before an upsurge on the last two clicks, where it goes back to 9.
Two clicks of Toughness give way to a combination special power of Energy Shield/Deflection, Toughness and Willpower, letting him act more often and be harder to shoot while he is staying at range. However his defense steadily drops going all the way down to 14 :( His close combat clicks are back to Toughness but with a 15 and two 14s he better hope to not fight anyone too strong.
On his second damage click, Sinestro switches to Outwit, then back to Perplex before dropping to 2 damage and 3 clicks of;

Sinestro's Might! Sinestro can use Energy Explosion and Ranged Combat Expert. When Sinestro uses Energy Explosion, damage dealt is penetrating damage.

This gives him great ranged capability and allows him to damage Mastermind swarms greatly. His last 2 close combat clicks swing back to damage 3 and have Exploit Weakness. This means he is quite a threat on those last two clicks, despite the 14 defense.
Finally, he can benefit from the Yellow Lantern special object on 5 of his 7 clicks, making it worth the extra 5 points if you can keep near it.

This also means that DC75th Sinestro has two extra clicks of life over his counterpart. That and the greater defense values gives him more survivabilty, which you would hope for the extra 78 points.

In summary, I'd rather run DC75th Sinestro unless skimping on points or looking at a Green Lantern Corps theme team. While simply being an attacker rather than having the the flexability of the Crisis version, he is such a great attacker. So in the abstract, he wins hands-down.

However, there is a caevet to this. In a 300 point team, he is pretty much the team, and I do not like fielding tentpoles. It's a rule I pretty much only break for Thanos, reserving such figures for larger games. Therefore I suspect I am more likely to get use out of the Crisis version, especially when trying to squeeze in as many Sinestro Corps memebers as possible. The difference in points allows me to field Lyssa Drak and still find another figure for the team.

Still, DC75th Sinestro is such a beast, and has a fantastic sculpt..... Might have to try and use him at some point anyway :)

Next time I'll compare another Antagonist, the third Green Lantern of Sector 2814.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs

So, last Wednesday at WNM we did triple Scars of Mirrodin draft. We had enough players for two pods, one of 8 and one of 9. I ended up in the pod of 8 and drafted a Green-Red deck full of Spellbombs (Cadillacs) and large Green creatures (Dinosaurs). I'm not a fan of draft reports where they show you each pack and pick in turn, as once you have disagreed on one pick, that can change your future picks, making the comparision shakey. So instead, here is the deck I played:-

Main Deck
3 Molder Beast
2 Alpha Tyrranax
1 Engulfing Slagwurm
1 Embersmith
1 Oxidda Scrapmelter
3 Galvanic Blast
2 Turn to Slag
1 Copper Myr
1 Iron Myr
2 Sylvok Replica
1 Vulshok Replica
1 Panic Spellbomb
4 Horizon Spellbomb
1 Tower of Calamities
8 Forest
8 Mountain 
1 Acid Web Spider 
2 Tel-Jilad Fallen

I gave away the rest of the pool at the end of the tourney, but it had a Furnace Celebration that I considered running, but in the end cut to make space. I was amazed at how many copies of certain cards I was able to pick up, which gave the deck a terrifyng consistancy. It had a slight tendancy to flood, but equally I could always activate the Tower of Calamities or sacrifice a Spellbomb/Replica when I needed to. It also meant I was never sat with uncastable dinosaurs in hand.

Round 1
Mr. X running White/Blue/Black Metalcraft

Game one was pretty much decided turn 6. Turn to Slag a Myr equipped with Bladed Pinions. Attack with Molder Beast (9 power with Trample). He blocked with Wall of Tanglecord, I sacrificed Sylvok Replica to kill it and he took 13 Trample damage. Subsequent Spellbombs and the Trample on the beast rapidly won the game.

Game two was looking kinda in his favour, especially when he dropped Carnifex Demon. My response was to cast and, after the demon's first swing, activate Tower of Calamities. From that point on he couldn't keep any creatures on the table and I was able to win off the back of a dinosaur.

2-0 (1-0-0)

Round 2
Dibbs running Green/Black Infect.

Game one simply went; kill Infect creatures, make dinosaurs, race opponent. Even counting Poison Counters as 2 damage each, my creatures were much bigger than his, allowing me to win.

Game two pretty much went the same way, though I didn't see as many creatures and got him down to one life point before he killed me :(

Game three took far too long, and we stopped at time on the round. We both decided it wasn't worth playing out the 5 turns as the win was too far out of reach for both of us. For me, creature of the match was the Embersmith, as it was able to kill mana Myr and the lesser Infect creatures which slowed down his otherwise agressive deck.

1-1 (1-0-1)

Round 3
Northern Sean running Green/Black Infect

Game one was routine. Turn 4 Molder Beast, turn 5 swing for 13, game over pretty quickly.

Game two was pretty bad. I died with 10 lands in play, and 4 in hand. Land flooding is slightly better than land screwing, but still usually leads to a loss.

Game three I made the risky choice of taking out 2 lands to put in both Tel-Jilad Fallen. While this may have been an overreaction to the land flood, I did it for two reasons. Firstly, I had been drawing an awfully large amount of land, especially with 2 mana Myr and 4 Horizon Spellbombs. Secondly, the elves can block the Artifact Infect creatures indefinately, and -1/-1 counters kill Blight Mambas effectively, leaving me my other removal for other creatures and not having to worry about him having Regeneration mana available. This proved to be wise and I won the game with a combination of dinosaurs every turn for three turns and drawing enough removal.

2-1 (2-0-1)

This gave me 7 points, putting me first in the pod, with Dibbs in second and also put me in second place overall. Trust the winner of the other pod to go 3-0 for the full 9 points :p
All in all it proved to be a solid aggro deck, and something I would try and duplicate in future drafts. Not bad for my second attempt at this draft format :)