The only person twisted enough to actually include Chaos Magic in a constructed deck on the Pro Circuit? That would be me. It was exactly three years ago, and it remains one of my most glorious achievements.
Vs. System history is chock full of deliciously trivial tales like that. This one is especially sweet. Sneaking in a Save-It Saturday a day late, hoping your personal paradises are preserved just as well.
Many heavenly stories begin in Hell, and this one is no different. I boarded a plane at Miami International Airport and started worrying about the black clouds on the horizon. I don’t mean a foreboding sense of upcoming humiliation for my Multiple Man deck, but a real thunderstorm—twenty miles wide. We sat on the runway for four hours waiting for the bad weather to pass. Five tornadoes were spawned across South Florida as I goldfished myself sick, trapped inside a long metal box.
When our flight was finally released to head north toward Atlanta, the turbulence we experienced in the air exponentially exceeded any roller coaster I have ever ridden. Our thrill ride lasted at least twenty minutes. My brain was shaken, not stirred. It was one of the most terrifying nights of my life.
As if my normal mental confusion were not enough, the delay and the intense trip through the sky started my Pro Circuit adventure on a distinctly discombobulated note. It got worse on the red ground of the Peach State. No one knew where the convention center was, including the police officers at the airport. The building was two miles away, and I could not find one person to direct me properly toward it. I bought a ticket for a shuttle when the girl at the window said it would take me to the Pro Circuit venue. I ended up downtown instead. I was dropped off twenty miles further away from the Promised Land. The driver told me I needed to get on the train and go back, since he was not returning. I actually enjoyed the return trip to the airport, but by then the convention center was closed, so I made my way to the hotel for some last-minute testing with friends.
As soon as I stepped out of my final cab of the evening, my fortunes began to improve drastically. I was rooming with three excellent Vs. System strategists: Cameron “gator7870” Robinson, Irving “dragoonxix” Diaz, and Curtis “tchalla” Brown. They provided the playtesting experience that I was lacking. Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox finally did the proper exercise to prepare him for the Pro Circuit. With three outstanding flesh-and-blood opponents to practice against, my goldfish was given some well-needed rest.
While I was stranded on the plane, I swayed between the ridiculous Multiple Man deck and an actually competitive Avengers reservist build that TJ Holman had given me. When our jet finally settled in the sky, I realized that any day could be my last. If I have to go out, I want to go out playing janky 1-cost Army decks. My final decision was made. Multiple Man was going to the Pro Circuit.
All three of my card-flipping brethren had experience with the Avengers team-attack tricks that I was trying to teach my Madrox. We tweaked and we tuned and we ended up with this by morning:
by Rian Fike
200th place, Pro Circuit Atlanta
14 Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox
3 Captain America, Steve Rogers
2 Carol Danvers ◊ Warbird
1 Hank Pym ◊ Ant Man
1 Hawkeye, Leader by Example
1 Iron Man, Tony Stark
1 Melissa Gold ◊ Songbird, Sonic Carapace
4 Natasha Romanoff ◊ Black Widow
3 Quicksilver, Mutant Avenger
2 Speed Demon
1 Sub-Mariner, Namor
3 Chaos Magic
4 Enemy of My Enemy
4 Flying Kick
4 Legendary Battles
4 Mutant Massacre
This deck never won more than 30% of its matchups in extended testing. It does have Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox, however, and that was enough for me. If it hits the following board, it performs very well. Realistically, however, it does not provide this sequence consistently.
Resource: Mutant Massacre or Playroom
Recruit: Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox
Resource: Same as turn 1.
Recruit: Natasha Romanoff is the first choice and the mulligan condition for the deck. Melissa is very strong when followed with Cap on 3, but her drawback can be quick death against many different decks. Wasp can fill the early curve and provide some board advantage, and the Ant Man can allow the Madrox team attack, but two more Multiple Men without support from an affiliated character in this spot are basically useless.
Resource: Mutant Massacre or Enemy of My Enemy
Recruit: Captain America, Steve Rogers
Since we took the team-ups out of the deck, Cap is pretty important for an ultimate swarm later in the game. This is the turn that Enemy of My Enemy becomes playable, so the patriotic wonder can be recruited almost every time. With Natasha and a ready Madrox, you should be able to remove the opponent’s 3-drop from the game. If your draw has you loaded with multiple Legendary Battles, Quicksilver can also be pretty good here.
Resource: Legendary Battles
Recruit: Carol Danvers or Quicksilver and a 1-drop
The deck has game on either initiative, but evens give it some extra power with the Warbird. If you played a Mutant Massacre earlier and Carol can return the opposing 4-drop, you are on your way.
From here on out, you’re on your own. With Enemy of My Enemy and Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox working together, you may fetch at will. There are two different 5-drops and two different Speedsters. If the Legendary Battles has not made an appearance, Wasp becomes a nice cream filling for a Quicksilver sandwich. If you have survived this late with a decent board presence, you’ll have a veritable paradise of team-attack tricks to pull off.
You may have noticed that the deck does not actually key on Multiple Man ◊ Jamie Madrox and his duplication powers. Our little 1-cost Army hero’s team-up ability and his status as a Mutant are enough to warrant his inclusion here. The chance to use Chaos Magic against Wonder Man or Shocker makes Madrox shine, since you can sometimes get a surprise weenie-twinning in response to a direct stun.
So, how did it work? What was it like to be the only fool playing Multiple Man at Pro Circuit Atlanta? Check this out.
In the first round, I faced Brian “unifiedshoe” Garber. My Pro Circuit adventure could not have had a better start. Brian was one of the online friends that I had been dying to meet, and since I survived my hellish flight, I got the chance. My deck performed like a choir of angels against his Squadron Supreme rush. I removed with Massacre. I fetched with Enemy. I bounced with Carol. Turn 6 saw the most glorious board of my Pro Circuit career, and I had the initiative. With a front row of Speed Demon, Captain America, Steve Rogers, Carol Danvers ◊ Warbird, Wasp, and Quicksilver, Mutant Avenger, I was sure I had found Shangri-La.
Round 2 felt like I was reunited with a long-lost cousin. Carl Perlas plays Vs. System the way it should be played: full of style and dedicated to fun. Having him back on the Pro Circuit was like a party in Nirvana. My deck missed all its Massacres, and Carl’s “Braces of Evil” deck brought down the Stonewall to yank my Madrox from the clouds. I was totally blissed for the rest of the day despite the loss. Two dear friends had themselves an enchanted Jank Festival the likes of which the PC Feature Match Area may never see again.
The third round brought an international flavor to my Pro Circuit Paradise. Jonas Skali is part of the fabulous Team Zissou from Bonn, Germany. I love playing against non-English cards, especially when they are flipped by such an excellent competitor. His signature red hat was the cherry on top of my Chaos Magic sundae. I faced off against Wonder Man and pulled off my dream move on the biggest stage in the game! Instead of stunning my Carol, Jonas watched in wonder as my Madrox multiplied magically before his eyes. It was an intense and fascinating contest. Jonas needed to under-drop and fill in his curve with Dane Whitman twice. There was plenty of turbulence in the match, and we were both forced to make thrilling decisions that do not usually arise. When it was over, I had lost—but could I not stop grinning.
My fourth round opponent, Eman Spaulding, knows the meaning of “free lunch.” He recruited Amelia Voght twice during our match, without ever needing to pick up the tab. My team attacks got a few removal abilities off, but I ended up one Playroom away from victory. Manuel Peelen took my day into the firmament of fantasy with a hybrid deck that combined Squadron Supreme with Avengers Reservist. We each had good draws, each combat phase was full of delicious dilemma, and we both reached negative endurance. When the match reached its heavenly conclusion, my Madrox had defeated one of the funky red hats from Bonn.
Richard Vaughan was my sixth round opponent, and the one player at Pro Circuit Atlanta who made me want to move out of Miami. I wish I lived in Colorado so we could laugh together more often. Richard produces a spectacular Vs. System podcast known as “The Fallout Shelter.” He would later interview me for one of their shows, and we would become even better friends than ever, but during the match, he was my enemy. Richard was running Morlocks evasion, and I thank the almighty that he didn’t see his Backs Against the Wall the whole game. This match was an absolute Wonderland. On turn 5, I decided to make sure I avoided the triple Shrapnel Blast. I sent in what would have been the winning swing for extra assurance on my team attack. It cost me the win, but it gave me an empyrean memory that will last into the afterlife.
Curtis Brown is obsessed. His screen name is “tchalla.” He has the Black Panther action figure with the working claws. He owns the most beautiful playmat I have ever seen: an original Ariel Olivetti sketch of his Number One character. He is also an amazing Vs. System strategist. He refuses to conform to “competitive wisdom,” yet he focuses on solid victory tactics and builds decks that can win every time. It was great to meet him, room with him, and get eliminated from Day 2 contention by him in the seventh round. I couldn’t have been knocked out by a better guy.
I got to play Chaos Magic against Josh Nye in the next round, this time deflecting his Wonder Man stun onto my 5-drop Hawkeye, Leader by Example and netting him nothing. It was glorious to behold, although it was not enough to assure the win.
The final opponent for my adventure through the pearly gates of Pro Circuit Atlanta was another of my favorite online pals. Ryeland “techn0range” Barnard is one of the most valuable and vital competitors in my Barn Door Challenges on starcityvs.com. He is infamous for his orange Hawaiian shirts, orange card sleeves, and orange dice. His hair is so cool that it makes me rue the day I went bald on top. Ryeland is also very good at this game. He schooled me like an orange bus with his bizarre multi-team Blackbird Blue deck. It was Heaven on Earth for both of us. I can’t wait to play him again at the next Orlando $10K.
I can’t wait to tell you more about the paradise that was Pro Circuit Atlanta. I think I could tell stories for three months about the everlasting fun we had in three days. Tune in next week, and I’ll explain why the kids are alright.
Rian Fike is also known as stubarnes, and he is trying to earn his wings with every article. If you have any shortcuts to Heaven, or secret escape routes from Hell, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org