This Weekend In Heaven will be spent with the Thule Society and its creepy cardboard characters, playing the Hellboy Essential Collection until our eyeballs fall out and sprout Ancient Godlings. While we turn Mike Mignola’s terrific translations of the Old Ones sideways on our kitchen table, you can wallow in an article almost exactly two years old today. How big can it be?
Truth may be stranger than fiction, but that doesn’t stop the artist from trying. With modern creative technology blurring the distinction so drastically, who’s counting anyway? Hellboy, that’s who.
The Hellboy Essential Collection has brought an entirely new level of realistic interaction to a fictional mythos that was already a huge part of many people’s lives. This comic book character has a rabid following. His dedicated devotees constantly strive to make him as tangible as they possibly can. They create authentic B.P.R.D. identification badges and hand out Lobster Johnson calling cards that simply say “Fiction?” These people are real freaks, and I like it.
Hellboy has also been captured on powerful cardboard and is now ready to turn sideways on the kitchen table. As I wax poetic about the powers and interactions of our newest Vs. System playing pieces, we will also be treated to a symphony of sculpture from the community of die-hard Hellboy fans around the globe. There are some very serious artists who have a very serious crush on Mike Mignola’s baby. Their skills with clay take the myth and stretch it into taffy. Get ready for a visual treat. Your eyes will be exhausted when we are done.
I got the call from the local gaming store and tried to keep my heart from beating out of my chest. It was here. The first set of full-sized, pre-fabricated Vs. System Constructed decks had arrived in Miami. Gravity slowed me down a bit, but within a few blinks, my Mini Cooper was sitting in front of the shop and the treasure was gripped firmly in my hands.
I drove straight home to my wife. We ripped off the outer covering and shuffled up. As soon as Liz Sherman’s uncontrollable power hit the board, I knew the match was destined to become a classic. Nina’s Baba Yaga welcomed the squirming mass of Sadu-Hem to her side of the board, and we settled in for a turn 8 of epic proportions. It was a beautiful thing.
The 7-drop Liz isn’t the only thing that stokes the home fires to new temperature thresholds in our house. Each sixty-card deck contains two different, satisfying strategies. The characters, equipment, plot twists, and locations are fascinating in both theme and function. The Pancakes are especially delicious.
Constantly vigilant against the forces of metaphysical evil, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense has all kinds of tricks up their collective sleeves. They can cover the ground with support troops in the form of U.S. Army Rangers. They have been blessed with some of the best equipment tricks in the game, starting with Sidney Leach’s human metal-detecting abilities. Thomas Manning makes sure all his boys get a big bonus when they are packing toys. Both Ben Daimio and Lobster Johnson get gigantic grins when they have a gray card attached. The Weapons Lab allows them double the pleasure and double the fun.
But wait! That’s not the only way that the B.P.R.D. can mash the monsters on the other side of the Vs. System equation. When the big red dude enters the picture, things change. Hellboy works best by himself and he doesn’t mind telling his friends to get lost. This team affiliation follows his lead for their second theme, giving major advantage to any character willing to fight alone. Sometimes they like to have a hidden force, as well. As long as you only show the face of one visible character, the B.P.R.D. becomes as formidable as any group the game has ever seen.
I have spoken of this before, and it is my favorite part of the Hellboy Essential Collection. Three of Mike Mignola’s myths are being developed more fully than ever before thanks to our beloved game. Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman are swelling with expanded power in their Vs. System incarnations. It fills my heart with joy and covers my kitchen table with some really hot fish.
I have a confession to make. Mulletman is not going to like it. The Thule Society has introduced a truly classic version name that now tops my list of all Vs. System cards ever printed. Hecate has been dubbed a “Major Mythological Figure.” That is even cooler than being a “Rebel Freedom Fighter” in my book. She is also even hotter than Abe Sapien (for a fish), and she was specifically designed to destroy his plans. Hecate has been around for nearly 3,000 years in the human imagination, and now she is pulling characters out of the hidden area left and right. Her power is not limited to opposing threats, either. She is strong stuff for an environment dependant on concealment. Getting the black-bordered cards into the visible area where you can gain advantage with them can often set the stage for some late-game Cthulhu-style madness, with the Sadu-Hem sucking the life right out of your horrified opponent and transmuting it into a boost of endurance for the win.
Grigori Rasputin and the gang have been given an alternate win condition in the form of Project Ragna Rok, but that party doesn’t float my boat. I am drawn to the Damn Nazis and their squirrel-like nature. Especially since the 1-cost Army lovers of the world can now unleash a Plague of Frogs for some massive weenie beats.
12 Damn Nazis
4 Hellboy, Little Boy
6 Huge, Annoying Tentacles
4 Karl Ruprecht Kroenen
4 Klaus Werner von Krupt
1 Black Flame
4 Plague of Frogs
4 Nasty Surprise
4 Flying Kick
4 Wake the Devil
4 Accept Your Destiny
4 Something is Coming
4 Cavendish Hall
That is my deck of choice for any tournaments or kitchen tables that will be using only the cards from the Hellboy Essential Collection. It is fairly simple in operation, underdropping a swarm of occult minions that receive major mythological pumps from a trio of plot twists and an evil project leader. Klaus Werner von Krupt often hands out +3 ATK to three different attackers in order to stun the opposing board and wipe it clean with Accept Your Destiny. Karl Ruprecht Kroenen has eighteen possible lucky revelations for topdecking, and they are cheap enough to recruit a few per turn. Hecate whips hidden threats out into the open with her tail so that Black Flame can start boosting like Bastion—if the match goes that far and demands a more curvy combination.
The tastiest trick that Thoolish Mortals can create begins when you realize that Something Is Coming immediately after you recruit Hellboy, Little Boy. When you flip Cavendish Hall, that baby gets really big. On turn 5 (with a Plague of Frogs or two), he can easily reach +20 ATK if all goes well. Sounds like my kind of fun.
Whether the Thoolish Mortals are good enough to win the upcoming City Championships remains to be seen. They will need to duke it out with Olympic Weenie Glory and get covered in War Paint first. Whichever one of my pet decks barks loudest during testing will be let off the chain to sink its teeth into the Miami metagame. Skating major mythological figure eights on the Vs. System battleground has never been sweeter, thanks to Hellboy and the Thule Society that he opposes.