Will Pell
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I'm not sure if anybody has thought to do this before; if they did, I never heard about it. So I sat down and entered the incapacitated abilities of all so-far-published heroes into a Google Sheet. The seven "standard" incap abilities (play a card, use a power, draw a card, regain HP, destroy an ongoing, destroy an environment, and destroy a 1-HP target, or minor variations on these) all get a column, as does an ability which has become increasingly common on recent designs: "discard the top card of each deck" (three heroes so far have this exact ability, which maybe doesn't quite justify a full column for it, but it's so rare for a "miscellaneous" ability to be precisely duplicated, let alone triplicated, that I couldn't resist). The last two columns contain assorted other abilities; one involves some manner of getting stuff back from trash piles, although there's a wide disparity in how they actually work - Bunker and Tachyon let players repeatedly play the same One-Shot, Fixer and Rook City Wraith can get discarded Equipment directly into play, while DW Nightmist, Horus Ra and Dark Visionary have the ability to "lock" most enemy decks by repeatedly retrieving relatively harmless cards to become the next play. (DV works on the enviro deck, virtually guaranteeing that you never again see a card you don't want to; Ra can affect the villain, which is even better except for how many of the toughest villains play multiple cards a turn - and Nightmist gives both of those options at once!). A lot of heroes have both a trash-retrieval power and some other effect; many of those effects involve increasing or reducing damage where the surviving heroes are concerned, and I could have standardized some of those effects into a new column, but figured I'd be better off leaving it as full text for now, since the details can vary so much. (I kind of ended up regretting the healing standardization as it is, since that too has a lot of knobs to turn.)

Anyway, here's the link.

(I'm annoyed to notice belatedly that a few fields' Notes were not reproduced in this extract; I'll have to fix that later. For now, double-check your cards before you get too excited about anything I've said in the Healing column.)

Now that you've got the document, you can ignore the rest of my ramblings, as I run through my personal and biased opinion of which heroes are worth more dead than alive, which ones should be preserved at all costs lest they become completely useless, which matches are severely affected by having the right (or wrong) hero thrown under the bus, and when the decision of playing a hero's original or promo versions should be influenced by the possibility of your being incapped.

* Legacy: Alive or dead, Legacy is one of the most potent heroes, able to grant either powers or card draws in all three of his versions (odd that he should be so consistent when these cards all represent different people; promos that are all the same person offer wildly different abilities). Young Legacy has the strongest Third Option, being able to preserve an Inspiring Presence effect even after her death - and turn it off each round if the heroes have found themselves starting to suffer too much self-damage. It doesn't quite make up for the fact that she's a bit less effective (though IMO more fun to play) while alive than her Galvanizing dad, whose third incap ability varies greatly in usefulness depending on where you fight - and whether the Environment is behaving as friend or foe to your party. Grandpa Legacy, however potent he might be while alive, is the booby prize out of these three once he dies; knocking one card off of a deck isn't much of a use for your entire turn in the majority of situations, so while it might come in handy once in a while, it's even more limited in desirability than Junior's environment thing.

* Bunker: I've actually had the experience of playing against a G.I. Bunker that was played with original Bunker's incap abilities (since the real incap side of the promo was not public yet); it was an instructive lesson in game balance. The weakness of Initialize means that original Bunker should be among the heroes most willing to lay down their life for the team; once killed, he gains two very potent abilities, either a limitless trash-recycling power or the ability to protect a hero from some damage. Tachyon shares the former power and Haka the latter, but finding them both on one hero is pretty special, and he grants card plays on top of it. In death, as in life, the promo Bunkers offer entirely different abilities which the original Bunker never possessed; the WW2 model can destroy Environments while dead, something none of the Bunkers can do while they're alive (excluding destroying Targets with damage, of course), or he can continue his living shtick of punching through reduction a little bit, by being able to take out a 1-HP target regardless of how resistant to damage it is. Freedom Six Bunker continues his habit of Ongoing removal, without even having to discard Modes (for this reason he makes a great sacrificial lamb when fighting Iron Legacy, who's an expert in killing him anyway); alternatively, he has a variant on original Bunker's trash retrieval, where he puts the card on top of a deck rather than into the player's hand. For most purposes that's worse, although Nightmist at least is likely to appreciate it much more, some of the time anyway. (I forget what other heroes might also like the top-deck version more; in most cases the preference revolves around something like Omnitron-X's Timeshift ability, and putting the card into the player's hand while granting them an extra card play would usually have the same benefit, so it hardly counterbalances the overall lesser utility of having to draw the card and then usually wait a round to play it.)

* The Wraith: Rook City Wraith doesn't grant any of the standard abilities, but is the only hero besides Fixer to get one of the most powerful incap abilities possible, that of putting a trashed Equipment straight into play. (Granted, one of the best recipients of that effect is Wraith herself, but it is sort of nice to have the option of returning the favor with discarded or destroyed Tools, if Fixer ends up being the one to live.) The other two Wraiths are both good at removing Ongoings, one by destroying them and the other by "rewinding" them to the villain deck, ensuring that the villain gets no new card play for the next round; either effect is very powerful, and particularly meaningful against someone like Iron Legacy or Deadline, who relies almost entirely on their Ongoings for effectiveness. I learned to my sorrow in one game against Advanced IL that while original Wraith's innate Power is useless on side A, that doesn't mean that trading her in for the higher-HP Rook City version is a net bonus; without her Ongoing removal abilities, Wraith still ended up dying, and was not incredibly useful thereafter. Both promo versions of Wraith also destroy Environment cards, which can be crucial for turning someplace like Megalopolis or Dok'Thorath into a one-sided battleground.

* Tachyon: Play cards, play cards, play cards! All three versions of the speedster, when defeated, encourage others to do what worked for them in life. The original and F6 versions also offer card draw as an option for when you have nothing worth playing (as if Team Leader Tachy hasn't fed you enough cards while she lived); the third ability always involves fiddling with trashes or decks in some fashion, and only on the original version is it likely to be extremely useful in most cases.

* Absolute Zero: Besides being easier to play effectively, the promo of AZ also has more unique abilities, with neither his Adhesive Foam Grenade effect nor the ability to force villain self-damage being found on any other incapacitated hero. Alas, he can't grant card plays or powers, so he may not be exactly better, but he's certainly more interesting. The original AZ's corpse is great when paired with a heavy damage dealer - or, alternatively, with a character who can stay alive for a long time while not dealing any damage, building up a series of boosts to eventually punch through heavy reduction or something; being substantially tougher and able to trigger self-healing with his Innate (while NPCU is in play), this version is just plain less likely to die, but more likely to swing the game if he does.

* Unity: Both versions let you draw or play a card; the original Unity can heal a hero, although this effect is somewhat limited because you can only choose a weakling to affect ("Sorry Captain Cosmic, you have a whopping 5 HP, so I'm going to repair your undamaged Autonomous Blade instead."). The promo version is pretty good at getting herself killed, what with the ability to self-damage for 4 on command; once dead, her unique option of killing any Device short of Omnitron himself is useless in the majority of matches, and most of those where it does apply are already not the most fearsome of battles (although definitely try it against the Vengeance Five, when they include either Baron Blade or Friction). But on rare occasions, this power can lead to epic turnarounds, and since it's only one situational option accompanied by two strong ones, it's definitely handy to have.

* Captain Cosmic: A relatively rare example of a hero whose two versions have nothing whatsoever in common, incapacitation-wise, the Captain can grant card plays or powers in his original form, while he gives card drawing or as a promo. The Prime Wardens version of CC is unusual in that he doesn't really have three different incapacitated abilities, since two of them are basically variations on a theme; he feeds you cards, with the exact number you gain depending on whether you have anything you can stand to lose. If playing a particularly card-hungry hero such as Tachyon or Parse, you might well consider intentionally killing your own ally in search of the discard-to-draw-3 effect, which a living Captain cannot duplicate (this of course assumes that you're playing solo, or two-handed, or with a very good friend indeed; depriving a compatriot of the option to actually play his deck is not likely to end well, if you fail to secure permission first - he's certainly not obligated to choose you as his beneficiary). While the original Cap does definitely have a third option to choose from, it's not one you'll pick very often, unless all of the heroes who survive you are extremely well-specialized in dealing irreducible damage, or you've just given up on the idea of damage-dealing altogether and just need something to keep you alive for a while. Even in those cases, other heroes can usually do it better; the ability to short-circuit multi-attack hits (e.g. the Ennead's Elemental Storm, or Tryragon-Rex in the Kaargra coliseum) can make it handy, but in most cases it's not the best trade to make.

* Tempest - The original Tempest, powerful as he is while alive, is my poster-child for the idea that you might sometimes be better able to win the game if you allow one of your own heroes to take one for the team. It's a testament to the effectiveness of his trash-recycling ability that, even after limiting it to just Ongoings, it's still incredibly valuable - but the real story is the ability to turn off an entire damage type for the entire team, completely hamstringing two of the game's deadliest villains (Iron Legacy does almost nothing but melee, and if you never kill a Fowl, immunity to projectile damage completely shuts down the Matriarch except for two One-Shots, though admittedly she'll end up replaying those a lot). Compared to this, either of the promo Tempests look a little silly; the F6 version offers good but boring flexibility, and the Prime Warden - who is absurdly good at going Kamikaze if he wants to - unsurprisingly has somewhat limited options while dead, though the Ongoing removal is great, and the ability to fetch desireable Environments can be very handy in some matches. The villain-retrieval option is only very rarely useful, but it's fitting to note that all the pictures of Tempest in the Kaargra Warfang deck show him with his Prime Warden costume; if you allow M'kk to get slaughtered in the Bloodsworn Coliseum, he can show Kaargra just how Fickle her fans really are, and practically guarantee the heroes' victory no matter what she does, as long as they can manage to stay alive against her onslaught, and beat her up enough to kick her out of the arena.

Haka: Not too much to say about the original or Prime Warden versions, except that the latter offers the +2-to-next-damage option seen on several heroes (including fellow Prime Warden Fanatic in her original form), but unusually allows him to choose a non-hero Target to receive the bonus, in case the Environment is doing a better job of hurting the Villain (or the Villain is in the habit of hurting himself). The Eternal Haka is the interesting one out of the three; while 1 point of healing is hardly worth a turn, and card play is an effective but boringly normal option, the real story is Incapped EH's ability to wave a white flag so large that even the Ennead can't ignore it. Captain Cosmos has an ability like this one, but Haka does it so much better; if you're willing to commit to the idea that damage should pretty much stop happening for a while, you might as well go all-in and do a really proper job of protecting yourself.

Fanatic: Fittingly, her original version gives other heroes the ability to hit harder or empty their hands, while the Redeemer instead helps them endure and stock up. A balance between action and reaction might be more desirable, at least according to Prime Warden Fanny, who is the only one to grant Powers. The Redeemer has the so-far-unique ability to heal all heroes (without also healing all villains, RA KNYFE glare), but do note that she fails to say "target", so the Sentinels will have to pick just one of them to receive this ministration, and Unity's Bots will feel completely left out.

Argent Adept: I looked at the incapped Prime Warden version of AA for the first time today, having previously intended to save him as a surprise for myself until he actually died in-game; what can I say, I lack patience. Anyway, he has an ability that no other hero has, and a very powerful one in some cases; despite having the highest HP of any version of the Adept, he's definitely one you might consider martyring intentionally, just so that he can ensure that the Chairman's Undivided Attention results in him smacking himself in the face twice over. Other Adepts offer different abilities; the Kvothe crossover promo, with his pitiful HP of 23, gains while dead the ability to perform a full-strength Sucker Punch / Wrathful Gaze effect every round, whereas no other incapped hero can do this to a target above 1 HP. He also offers both card plays and powers, while original Argent gets only the latter; the ex-Vocalizer is also lacking in the healing department compared to Wraith or even Unity, and while his ability to boost an entire damage type by 1 for a round can be handy, it is strictly worse than Young Legacy's comparable effect. So overall, I consider this version of the Adept the one who is least justified in dying.

Expatriette: I've often bemoaned the crappiness of Dark Watch Expatriette's protection power, and her Ongoing removal is only useful against villains who have Ongoings that you want to destroy (meaning that she was not a good choice to field against Grand Warlord Voss, at least not in that respect). Comparing the two versions of Amanda Cohen, the original version definitely has the better unique ability; if you can manage to keep one hero alive, even inside a Telekinetic Cocoon, the original expat can ensure that it's only a matter of time before they can deal an arbitrarily large amount of damage - provided the target doesn't have any damage reduction, but still. Besides being potentially very effective, this ability is just plain fun. Little wonder Expatriette is one of the "dyingest" of my heroes; playing the Dark Watch version has been slow to change this mentality on my part.

Mister Fixer: When paired with the Wraith, Unity, or other heavily Equipment-centric heroes, especially in the proper turn order, Mr. Fixer's hat can be a better friend than the man himself ever was. The ability to draw a card almost never compares, though Ongoing removal might, depending on the match; for the most part, though, if this ability isn't going to help the team (such as in the case of my inexplicable habit of constantly pairing him with The Naturalist, or with his Dark Watch compatriot Setback), you'd best make sure H.R. Walker keeps on walking. The zombie Fixer is a bit more generally efficient since he can grant Powers, which pretty much all heroes appreciate receiving; his ability to remove cards from the villain trash can be a lifesaver against Citizen Dawn or the like, and particularly screws with Fixer's nemesis The Chairman - assuming you can manage to get him killed early enough for it to matter.

Nightmist: For all that she has the ability to deal herself damage every turn, possibly quite a bit of it, Nightmist is still one of the hardest heroes in the game to kill, and so doesn't suffer too much from having a relatively weak Incapacitated form. Keep her alive at any cost, and if any of her allies can give her the extra cards she needs to function, don't be afraid to permit their deaths in the name of ensuring your eventual victory. The Dark Watch version struggles a great deal by comparison, needing card draws even more desperately and being less able to capitalize on them - but don't work too hard to keep her alive, because if she can manage to die, she'll gain one of the game's very best incapacitated abilities, potentially making a complete mockery out of the villain by forcing them to constantly replay one of their weakest cards, or else commandeering the best Environment card to see continual reuse. (Particularly try to sacrifice her when fighting in the Freedom Tower, whose polarity between its friendliest and unfriendliest cards is immense; unless Absolute Zero is around, the Cryo Chamber spells near-certain death for an already-beleagured party, whereas getting them to the Medical Bay or the Wraith's Arsenal can save their bacon. But the distinction is even more important for Environment cards that have their effect only once, such as the Atlantean Font of Power; if enough heroes are still alive, sacrificing Nightmist to that gives them an incredible payoff.)

* Setback: Considering how good he is at getting himself killed, it's thankful that the original Setback has one of the solidest and most well-rounded incapacitated sides. The only non-promo hero to have the "discard the top card of each deck" effect, which is only occasionally useful, he can afford this largesse because he also offers both powers and plays, a fairly rare and extremely useful combination. In the Dark Watch, he gives up some of this power by replacing plays with draws, but also gains an interesting and potentially very useful deck-control power, which can fill Tachyon's trash with extra Bursts or slowly censor a villain deck down to its most harmless cards.

Will continue this with non-team-affiliated heroes later.
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Matrovsky Karobekian
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Just FYI, the incap abilities and all other card text have already been compiled here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AprCZHVK0QvtdDV...
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Will Pell
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Rabk wrote:
Just FYI, the incap abilities and all other card text have already been compiled here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AprCZHVK0QvtdDV...


Hm. Handy to have a complete database, but it's much larger and requires time to navigate (and to load, on a slow computer/connection like mine). I still think it's useful to have a small, specific extract that puts all of the incap abilities right together for easy comparison.
 
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