Monthly Archives: May 2009

Sunday Mandala: Under Construction.

mandalasketches

As another school year comes to a close, my new gig at Broward College is about to blossom. In perfect synchronicity, I found some sketches by the umbrella to represent the new era beckoning ahead.

Onward!

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Save-It Saturday: X-Babies Attack!

xbabiesattack

That is the card that I never imagined would be printed. The final card in the final official expansion set. Here follows the article that inspired its appearance in reality.

mothershipheader

Risk Vs. Reward: X-Babies Attack!
By Rian Fike
9/3/2007

Marvel Legends fulfills quite a few fanboy desires, not the least of which is a major upgrade in the power level of the X-Men. The new mutants are mighty good, especially the little ones.

Forty long months I have been patiently waiting for Domino in our game. When it comes to the mythological ladies, she is just my type: high contrast, luck based, and nearly impossible to kill. Now we get to turn her sideways Vs. System style, thanks to a 1-drop with a freaky little ability. Big fun comes in small cardboard packages.

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Our tiny new Domino packs a large punch with her recovery ability, but you need to be rather odd to use it. Before we talk about where she will take us in the game, let’s see where she came from in the myths.

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Neena Thurman plays well with others, but most of the time, she is a freelance mercenary. Domino is an independent artist, and her medium is murder. She was born as a custom-engineered biological killing machine. Project Armageddon created her as a deadly human hybrid. The hideous experiment was an attempt to manufacture the perfect weapon. X genes were exploited with disastrous results.

Neena was one of only two surviving test organisms. Chalk-white skin, awesome black eye-patch, and the uncanny ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time. She was rescued from the nefarious laboratory and placed safely in a nurturing monastery to grow up. Domino eventually emerged into adult life and became a dynamite addition to the X-Force.

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As a member of Cable’s Six-Pack, the black-and-white hottie could really save the bacon when necessary. Her mutant abilities kick in subconsciously when she is in a dangerous situation. Domino cannot specifically control her luck powers the same way Longshot can, but when she is around, things always fall into place.

In Vs. System, that means she can keep herself and Cable flipped face-up at the beginning of the recovery phase every turn. There is only one catch. Your deck must have a built-in oddness about it. Check out Domino’s text:

Domino, Neena Thurman

Cost: 1

Team Affiliation: X-Men

Whenever a Cable or Domino you control becomes stunned, reveal the top card of your deck. If its cost is odd, recover that character at the start of the recovery phase this turn.

2 ATK / 1DEF
Ranged

My personal oddness often revolves around 1-cost Vs. System characters, and now they fulfill Domino’s board-maintaining probability powers. Before we jump into the construction of a deck to showcase this former test-tube baby, let’s look back at a list that caused some serious wailing at Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007. We can use it as a basic template.

OutSoldiers

Phou Phommavong

5th place on Day 1, 21st overall

Pro Circuit Indianapolis 2007

Characters

14 Kree Soldiers

3 Owen Mercer ◊ Captain Boomerang Jr., Prodigal Son

2 Faust

3 Technocrat

1 Thunder, Anissa Pierce

1 Halo

1 Wylde

4 Kimiyo Hoshi ◊ Dr. Light, Sunburst

Plot Twists

4 Booze Elementals

4 Forged in Crisis

4 Batman and the Outsiders

4 Truth and Justice

4 Recruiting Drive

3 Poker Night

Locations

3 Hala

1 New Baxter Building

Equipment

3 Ego Gem

1 Reality Gem

Phou’s metagame masterpiece took our beloved Kim Hoshi to a place that I was not sure she could go, and it will remain forever as an inspiration to weenie lovers worldwide. It serves up a swarm of 1-cost characters to fuel the blinding glory of the female Dr. Light and her Outsiders tricks. Let’s translate it into baby talk using only Marvel Legends cards.

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X-Babies Attack!

Characters

12 Multiple Man, Army ◊ Madrox

4 Domino

4 Cable, Nathan Summers

4 Wolverine, Logan

1 Jubilee, Mallrat

1 Shadowcat, Phase Shifter

1 Blink

1 Nightcrawler, Man of the Cloth

1 Bishop, Time Cop

Plot Twists

4 Bodyslide

4 Mobilize

4 Fastball Special

3 Battle Tactics

3 Healing Factor

3 Berserker Rage

3 Sneak Attack

3 Adamantium Claws

2 Overwhelming Force

Locations

2 Xavier’s Institute of Higher Learning

Phou’s OutSoldiers deck uses Kree Soldiers as fodder for a team-attacking character advantage. X-Babies are going Madrox. Multiple Man is back with a printed X-Men affiliation, and he loves him some Fastball Special. The OutSoldiers bounce guys back to hand to fill the red card requirements of the focus on swarming. X-Babies will rely on recovery to keep the characters on the table each turn. Phou’s win condition was total board control with Kim Hoshi. Domino is aiming for beatdown and burn with Bodyslide.

Cable is a perfect fit for the X-Babies deck. He appeared as an infant in Cable and Deadpool #7, and he has a sweet little 3-drop that rocks. Here is his heated text:

Cable, Nathan Summers

Cost: 3

Team Affiliation: X-Men

When Cable enters play, target opponent loses 1 endurance for each X-Men character you control.

5ATK / 4 DEF

Ranged

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With a mom like Madelyne Pryor, it was inevitable that Nathan Summers would come out looking good. Cyclops is his father, so you know he is a gifted child. Marvel Legends gives Cable his eagerly anticipated Vs. System debut. Bodyslide makes him an intriguing addition to any deckbuilder’s repertoire.

Bodyslide

Plot Twist

Cost: 3

Play only if you control Cable.

Remove target non-stunned character you control from the game. Its owner puts it into play at the start of your next attack step.

That means that Cable, Nathan Summers could swerve out of the game during the draw phase and allow another copy to be recruited. If his playmates have formed a kiddie six-pack to greet him, he will burn for 7. Then the fresh copy can Bodyslide out and return at the beginning of your attack step with its temporal twin. The first copy grabs another 7 opposing endurance, followed by 8 more from its parallel partner. That’s hot stuff.

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In the myths, Cable can slip in and out of time. He spends his days trying to save the world by altering history. That is a sticky business, but it allows more costume changes than any comic book character I can think of. Whenever and wherever Cable shows up, he is always sporting a sharp new outfit.

There are only six cards in the X-Babies deck that have an even cost, so Domino will be a near lock to get lucky. The new Battle Tactics that the X-men have been given are like a turbo-charged Combat Protocols, and they cost 2. Overwhelming Force allows the team-attacking toddlers to remain unstunned, also at a cost of 2. The single copy of Bishop, Time Cop is the 4-drop babysitter. If you let Bishop try the Bodyslide, the kids will laugh their way around the table screaming “+4 ATK!” for the whole turn.

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No X-Babies deck would be complete without a little Wolverine. The Logan version is back in Marvel Legends, and for a 3-drop, he is a really big boy. Scruffy may actually become the favorite win condition of the deck. He has some major ATK pumps that last an entire turn. The nursery includes toys that keep him from being stunned, recover him when he is, and ready him for a fur-flying finish. A small set of adamantium fingernails are poised to rip big holes in opposing characters and endurance totals. Wolverine’s Berserker Rage is about to arrive as a viable Vs. System strategy, and the X-Babies deck is only the beginning.

I have no idea how well the tiny tikes will hold up against proven classic decks. I can’t tell if there will be equally massive forces to oppose as the other new Marvel Legends creations crawl from the incubator. The only way to find out will be to build the deck and give it a go. I leave the little mutant rug rats with you now so that you can help me test them. We will say goodbye with a quote from Cable himself. When Nathan Summers revived Apocalypse in order to unite the X-Men against a common enemy, everyone called him crazy. His response?

“The risks are worth the rewards.”

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes and he has a kitchen table in his crib. If you do some testing with the X-Babies in your playpen, send the results to fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net

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Fantastic Friday: Freedom!

Freedom

That is a sweet page from Marvel UK featuring our beloved Shuma-Gorath.

This is the final Friday of the school year in Miami.

One more class, then Party On!

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President Obama appears in upcoming Army of Darkness Comic Book.

obamaarmyofdarkness

Is it just me, or does President Obama look rather peeved? I guess you would too if they unleased a slew of undead warriors and made Ash come to your rescue!  Here’s the solicitation:

ARMY OF DARKNESS: ASH SAVES OBAMA #1 (OF 4)
SKU: C725130125354
Price: $3.50
Rating: TEEN+
Covers: Todd Nauck, SURPRISE GUEST ARTIST
Writer: Elliot Serrano
Penciller/Inker: Ariel Padilla
Colorist: TBD
Genre: SUPER-HERO, HORROR
Awards: None
Publication Date: AUGUST, 2009
Format: Comic Book
Rights: WW
Age range: 16+
Diamond Code:
UPC: 725130125354
RETAILER INCENTIVE #1: FOR EVERY 10 COPIES ORDERS, RETAILERS WILL RECEIVE A BLACK AND WHITE SKETCH EDITION OF THE TODD “SPIDER-MAN #583 PRESIDENT OBAMA ARTIST” NAUCK COVER!
SKU: C725130125361 UPC: 725130125361

RETAILER INCENTIVE #2: FOR EVERY 25 COPIES ORDERS, RETAILERS WILL RECEIVE A NEGATIVE ART EDITION OF THE TODD NAUCK COVER!
SKU: C725130125378 UPC: 725130125378

ALSO AVAILABLE: FOIL EDITION AT THE NET COST OF $10.00!
SKU: C725130125385 UPC: 725130125385

He’s faced them all, but Ashley J. Williams is about to face the greatest horror of his entire deadite-kickin’ career – a comic book convention! But this ain’t any ol’ comic book convention, this one features a special appearance from the President of the United States of America – Barack Obama! How do things go from there when Ash and Obama are in the same place at the same time? And did we happen to mention that the Necronomicon is there doing the thing it does best – turning ordinary humans into the demon possessed undead!

This special Army of Darkness mini-series event is written by Elliott (Army of Darkness/Xena) Serrano, illustrated by Ariel Padilla and features covers by Todd (Amazing Spider-Man) Nauck and a Surprise Guest Artist!

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Supreme Court Justice Sotomayer!

sotomayor

President Obama has announced his first pick for the Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayer would be the first Hispanic to sit on the biggest bench in the land.

“My heart today is bursting with gratitude,” Sotomayor said from the White House podium moments after being introduced by Obama.

Word.

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Save-It Saturday: Celebrated Summer.

rfindebted

(Herewith follows the last article I wrote for Upper Deck. As the school year wraps up and we head into another summer, it still tastes as sweet as ever.)

Rallying Cry: Celebrated Summer

By Rian Fike
9/18/2008

This has been quite an eventful summer on many levels.  World-class athletes from all over the world converged in China for the Beijing Olympics.  Political candidates here in America battled intensely in the midst of a thrilling presidential election.  Vs. System crowned a number of new champions, and one of them claimed ultimate victory with Squirrel Girl!

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For me, personally, the summer of 2008 included a rather large change of venue.  My career has come full circle.  I began teaching art in 1983 at an elementary school in the inner city of Miami.  After five years, I was recruited to pioneer a Media Arts program in a middle school.  Eight years later, I transferred to an alternative high school for kids that had been excluded from their regular school for various reasons.  I taught there for thirteen years until budget cuts and high-stakes standardized testing eliminated the Art department. 

Now, I am back teaching at an elementary school, and I couldn’t be happier.  Young children are full of the pure inventive energy that is often sorely lacking in older human beings.  They explore new combinations, free of the doubtful cynicism that drags the creative spirit down into doldrums.  They are so very much alive.

Returning to the freshness of the grammar-school perspective has also brought a shining, glorious glow to Vs. System.  My classroom mantra for the year is “I feel great when I create!”. And I think it’s carried over into the Vs. System TCG, because this game has been flourishing when it comes to brilliant fan-based innovation and originality in competitive deckbuilding.

Obviously, I want to start with Squirrel Girl.  The furry little wonder has been doing some major damage with her cardboard incarnation, including the domination of Gen Con Indianapolis.  Thanks to Robert Rietze and his S.H.I.E.L.D. Simmer concoction, my favorite character in comics is a true champion. 

Let’s learn about the deck from the mad genius that created it, shall we?

The concept is to cook your opponent slowly (hence the word “simmer”) while having reinforcement and disruption.  In the late game you reinforce whenever possible, and when they swing their seven-drop you play Dangerous Liaison and say “Try again later on.”  In fact, Dangerous Liaison is the meat of the deck, and probably my favorite card in Marvel Universe.  If you read this then you deserve a cookie.

Dan Clark was running S.H.I.E.L.D. burn, and he always won on turn 5.  His deck is probably a much better version… but I like jank, so here’s mine with comments.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Simmer

Robert Rietze

2008 Gen Con Indianapolis Champion

 Characters

10 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents Just ten… I know.
4 Speedball ◊ Penance, Painmonger He’s sexy, no?
1 Blizzard, Frosty Friend Because he wins games, ask anyone.
2 Life Model Decoy Great for dreaming with.
2 Wolverine, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Growl.
2 Squirrel Girl Free guys are good.
1 Hank Pym ◊ Yellowjacket, Initiative Instructor Why not?  He’s a freaking Skrull, and I need at least one Skrull in a modern deck.

And that’s it for characters. 22 in total, which is all you need to simmer properly – since you have all the bouncing effects.

Mulligan condition = one S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and or Penance.

Plot Twists
4 Origin Story  …amazing card.
3 Mobilize
1 Collect Them All
2 Blinding Rage
4 Savage Beatdown
4 Secret War It bounces and sets up Dangerous Liaison and Thunderbolts Mountain.
3 Dangerous Liaison The greatest card ever made.  It doesn’t target and keeps people from killing me.  Just ask the great Michael Barnes.
3 Invasion Plans Drawing cards is good with the low character count, and the agents kinda don’t do much.
3 Death of the Dream Either draw a card and replace your crap or get rid of Total Anarchy.

And…

ONE SUPERHUMAN REGISTRATION ACT! It wins games, but drawing multiples is bad… so just the one.

Locations
4 Birthing Chamber Obv.
3 Thunderbolts Mountain Draw a card, set up Penance, set up Blizzard on turn 3 to guarantee you don’t have to worry about big stuff.
3 S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier It would be four, but I only own three!

RFdangerousliasonWow.  Just wow.  After four and a half years of playing this game, I am still amazed at the crazed creativity and deep deviousness that can be captured in a single sixty-card construction.  I have been over and over that strategy in my head, and it amazes me every time.  Especially when I pinch myself and realize that Squirrel Girl actually swung for the win in the final match.  Don’t believe me?  I have proof.

Mad props go out to Shane “fatalsync” Wendell at www. vsrealms.com for the fabulous event coverage, especially the penultimate squirrelly smackdown that claimed the climactic crown.  It was a match for the ages, as the wonder known as John Hall could be seen flinging the wicked monkey madness of Gorilla Grodd and Secret Society.  John actually gained 30 endurance during the match, and recruited Doomsday on turn 7.  How did Squirrel Girl triumph against that?  Head over to the Realms and find out for yourself.

RFsquirrelgirl 

As you can see, the competitive environment has gone completely nuts over Squirrel Girl.  Tree rodents are flying across the tournament halls like white-hot Ping-Pong balls of pure power.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Vs. System has come to life, and the pulse of the creative spirit that pumps the blood can seen on a multitude of maniacal fan-based websites.  Chris Miller’s Lost Hemisphere is perhaps the most vibrant, and the other day he gave a magnificent shout-out to thirteen of this game’s staunch suppliers of inventive genius.  Included in that list is my personal favorite new source of Vs. System verbiage.  It’s called “Vs. Is Not Dead,” and it is the brainchild of Brian “Trader2699” Herman in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Recently, he too had a brush with the undeniable hotness of Squirrel Girl.

I love it when a plan comes together as much as the next person, especially when it comes to Vs. System.  Crafting and planning an intricate decklist/strategy is half the fun, but it’s also incredible to put that strategy into action. Unfortunately for the Injustice Gang handflood/burn deck, my plans went completely awry. I did not like the fact that missing Lex Luthor meant losing the game, and the deck never felt like it was going to “pop.”

So I scrapped it entirely the day before the BYOT tournament, and started over. When I got home from work, there was an unexpectedly early package containing a singles order I had placed earlier in the week. 3 S.H.I.E.L.D.  Helicarriers, encased neatly in sleeves and a top loader. I was so pleased that I decided to throw caution to the wind and play an Army deck for BYOT. The deck went through a couple of iterations, both while in written development and when I finally broke out the little 1-cost burners. What I ended up with was this…

RFspeedball

Brian’s decklist, tournament report, and ultimate triumph really got the blood pumping for this game that’s been going strong after all these years.  I applaud his efforts and enthusiastically anticipate many more opportunities to live out future Vs. System glories vicariously on his blog.  This summer has seen a blossoming, and the flowers get funkier every time.

The most heartwarming of these is found back on the continent of the Lost Hemisphere.  It has been the Summer of Love, in more ways than one.   I would like to take a moment to showcase a project that humbles my creative essence with its utter magnificence, while inspiring me to do greater things with my life and our game.  This is our moment, and Chris Miller’s words call us toward cardboard paradise.

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There comes a time each year, a special time, after the rebirth of spring, with its bouncing baby bunnies and fragrant blossoms, but before the cool touch of autumn, with its kaleidoscope of leafy color and the gentle promise of snuggling by a warm, cozy fire. Yes, I’m talking about the heady, lazy, crazy days of summer. When a boy’s head turns to thoughts of baseball in vacant lots, swimming holes, and thick slices of watermelon, while young girls slip on their poodle skirts and skip down to the malt shoppe to listen to the juke box… hang on, I’m totally out of era, aren’t I…

One way or another, welcome to…

Lost Hemisphere’s Summer Of Love!

The concept: 32 decks, each a randomly assigned team-up, battle their way through a bracket to determine Vs. System’s happiest couple.

We randomly paired up 64 teams, rolling the dice to see what sort of wild and wacky team combinations we’d end up with. Clearly, we could have just slapped together the decks… but what if it wasn’t us doing most of the deckbuilding? What if it was celebrated deckbuilders and community luminaries?

The invitations went out, the community responded, and the shenanigans are ready to commence!

Behold! A veritable who’s who of dudes who we suckered into making decks for us!

Clifford “Captain_Comet” Parmeter, the most huggable podcast host ever, brings you Mask of Steel (Superman/Doom) and Knights Errant (Gotham Knights/Doom Patrol).

Miguel “CarlosTheDwarf” Rodriquez, the original VS blogger, brings you HK KO (Hellfire/Kree) and Green ’rine (Green Lantern Corps/X-Men).

Sean “BALDMAN” Marinelli, owner of the world’s largest forehead, brings you Crisis Knights (Marvel Knights/Crisis) and Shake ’n Bake (Morlocks/Secret Six).

Adam “Flashback81” Kirkby, the most puzzling man this side of North Haverbrook, brings you Pate de FOES IG-ras (Injustice Gang/Future Foes) and Dark(seid) City (Darkseids Elite/Brotherhood).

Squire “HomerJ” Kershner, jankmaster extreme, brings you ”Hi Everybody!” “Hi, Dr Spectrum!” (Inhumans/Squadron Supreme) and Titans United (Teen Titans/United Front).

Jason “Jaxxin” Hager, who likes yelling at Hulk on foil cards, brings you Stranger Danger (JSA/Nextwave) and Box Full of Evil (BPRD/Legionnaires).

Steve “Kamiza” Garrett, the U.K.’s man with the sexiest eyes, who can also pull off a roundhouse kick, brings you The Claw Society (Secret Society/Weapon X) and Family of One (Fantastic Four/X-Statix).

Brian “Kansashoops” Foley, American Maid’s favorite dork, brings you Adamantium Skrullmate (Checkmate/Skrull) and Psychopathic Reservists (Avengers/Sinister Syndicate).

Patrick “Majestic” Yapjoco, the winningest Yapjoco ever, brings you Crime Watch (Underworld/Crime Lords) and Wolvie Smash! (Warbound/S.H.I.E.L.D.).

Aaron “Onyxweapon” Mead, living the VS Life in the frozen North, brings you Task Force: Revenge (JLI/RevSq) and The Revenge of Tony Danza from His Tap Dance extravaganza (Fearsome 5/Outsiders).

Josh ”Runaway” Trujillo, the bravest blogger ever, brings you New Birds (New Gods/Birds of Prey) and Villain Potpourri (Villains United/Masters of Evil).

Talulah “Soshi Kenpachi” McGillicutty, who didn’t give me his real name in his email, brings you /r/ moar cards (Infinity Watch/Negative Zone) and On Public Urination (JLA/Thunderbolts)

David “CaptainSpud” Tierney, with the power of 10,000 potatoes, brings you Prime Qwardian Real Estate (League of Assassins/Antimatter) and Looney Bin (Arkham Inmates/Alpha Flight).

Rian “Stubarnes” Fike, the most psychedelic player in VS history, brings you Green Weakness (Emerald Enemies/Sentinels) and Hitler’s Wristwatch (Kang Council/Thule Society).

Paul “TheDerangedBear” Sung, renaming days of the week just for fun, brings you Warp Factor 9 (Heralds/SpeedForce) and Wild & Sticky (Spidey/WildPack).

Oh, and Pablo (“Eponymous’) laid claim to The Horse Conjurer  (Shadowpact/Horsemen), while I (“gdaybloke”) couldn’t resist the Rebellion in New Jersey  (Manhunters/Defenders).

RFlanterns

 
As a veteran of Vs. System history and histrionics, I must say that this tournament is unequalled in its sheer life-forced brilliance.  It breathes new hope into team affiliations and crazy combinations.  It gives us a bracket of beatdowns that will be extremely difficult to categorize, yet truly impossible to forget.  It is the Summer of Love indeed, and it will be celebrated forever.

Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes, and he is mad busy teaching little kids how to paint now that the school year has begun.  The celebrated summer lingers, while he marches forward into the future.  You can send him some ideas about how to manage his time and recharge his batteries at fullbodytransplant@dadeschools.net

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Filed under Comic Books, Save It Saturday, Squirrel Girl, Vs. System

Loki Has Been Cast.

Loki

lokicard     frog of thunder

Here at Full Body Transplant we love us some Loki. Trickster Gods FTW.

tom hiddleston

Now it is known that Tom Hiddleston will be playing the mighty mischief maker, and we are deeply indebted to Kenneth Branaugh and anyone else who made that casting call. Perfect choice. Absolutely perfect.

indebted

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