Arthur Williams
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WM Advanced [51] in the Time Cataclysm, vs. The Hunted Naturalist [27], Bunker [28], Ex-Patriette [29] and Freedom Six Unity [25].

Setup: WM begins with Wagelings [6], Playing Dice With The Cosmos, Wagelings [6], and Losing To The Odds. Naturalist starts with Indomitable Force, Environmental Allies, Resilient Hide and Threatening Stomp. Bunker has Heavy Plating x2, Gatling Gun, and Decommissioned Hardware. Expat gets Arsenal Access x2, Liquid Nitrogen Rounds, and Quick Draw. Unity draws Bee Bot, Brainstorm, Bee Bot and Raptor Bot.

Villain 1: Plays The New Deal. Wagelings deal 1 damage twice across the board (Natch 25, Bunker 26, Expat 27, Unity 23), then Losing To The Odds is checked, finding that some heroes are odd. The New Deal then forces Bunker [23] to become odd as well. Thanks to Playing Dice, the heroes play in reverse order, for the short time they need to play at all.

Unity 1: Plays Brainstorm, dealing 1 damage each to herself [22], Natch [24], and Expat [26]. Activates Golem-Spawn [18], putting Bee Bot into play [1]. Draws Inspired Repair and Scrap Metal from the Brainstorm, then Robot Reclamation at end of turn.

Ex-Patriette 1: Arsenal Access reveals Hollow Points and Submachine Gun, putting the latter into play. Not especially needing to fire the new gun, she plays Load for the other AA, getting two Flak Jackets and putting one of them down. Draws Hollow Points.

Bunker 1: Puts down Heavy Plating; draws Ammo Drop and Auxilliary Power Source.

Naturalist 1: Sets down Resilient Hide, then emulates Rhino form and draws Shifter’s Strength and Environmental Allies.

Enviro 1: Crushing Hallway enters play and is ignored.

Villain 2: Plays Impossible Quandary to no effect; the Wagelings double-stab the two female heroes [Expat 24, Unity 16], meanwhile hitting Bee Bot, who deals 1 damage through Bunker’s armor [22] (and destroys Crushing Hallway just because). This leaves all the heroes at even HP, so Wags quits.

Well okay, that wasn’t really a game, as is usually the case with W.M., so let’s go ahead and play again. Bunker will stop wasting taxpayer dollars on these sorts of shenanigans, but the other three will continue on to the next battle, against the nemesis of the strongest of these heroes (the other two are almost a liability in the fight, so it’s reasonable to keep them away from the toughest villains).

Deadline Advanced [80] in the Celestial Tribunal, vs. The Hunted Naturalist [27], Ex-Patriette [29], and Unity [25].

Setup: The Atomic End-Glaive [10] begins in play. Natch draws Environmental Allies, Shifter’s Strength, and two Feral Furies. Expat has Arsenal Access again, just one this time, along with Hairtrigger Reflexes, RPG Launcher and Shock Rounds. Unity gets Turret Bot, Inspired Repair, Flash Forge and Hasty Augmentation.

Villain 1: Plays Calculated Orogenesis x2. Blasts Expat for 3 [26].

Naturalist 1: Plays Shifter’s Strength, discarding Environmental Allies to draw The Predator’s Eye, and declining to play anything more. Emulates Crocodile, plays the Predator’s Eye on Deadline, draws Cornered Beast and Shifter’s Strength, and deals a total of 3 (with the Eye bonus and Nemesis) to the villain [77]. Draws Blend Into The Pack.

Ex-Patriette 1: Accesses the Arsenal to play one of two consecutive Flak Jackets. Plays Hairtrigger Reflexes and draws Liquid Nitrogen Rounds.

Unity 1: Plays Hasty Augmentation on the Naturalist, who emulates Gazelle over Rhino based on no information, then plays Shifter’s Strength, discarding Blend Into The Pack and drawing Indomitable Force, then playing Feral Fury for 4+4 damage to his marked target [69]. Activates Golem-Spawn [21] to play Turret Bot [9], then draws Platform Bot.

Enviro 1: Paragon of Sentience enters play; Expat volunteers to receive it.

Villain 2: Orogenesis plays Found Wanting on Deadline, and it somehow deals 2 damage to each hero [Natch 25, Expat 24, Unity 19, Turret Bot 7]. Next a Celestial Executioner [6] shows up to investigate, getting shot in the face by Expat [5], and dealing the damage again [23/22/17/5], including to himself [3]. Plays a third Orogenesis, then FLIPs; he destroys the Trials on Expat and himself, playing new Enviro cards for both: Character Witnesses and The Celestial Chamber, both of which are immediately also destroyed along with the (doubtlessly very confused, considering the eventfulness of his brief lifespan) Executioner and all three Catastrophes. Five total destroyed Enviro cards results in 5 psychic damage to all the heroes [18/17/12], not affecting Turret Bot thankfully. 3 irreducible damage across the board bounces off Expat’s Flak Jacket, but affects both Unity [9] and her bot [2], and becomes 4 to Natch [14]. A Paragon of Sentience and a Celestial Executioner are removed from the Tribunal deck, but so is Representative of Earth; there shall be no guest-hero powers or risk of Earth’s destruction in this game. To wrap up the turn, the End-Glaive blasts the relatively unscathed Expat [12].

Naturalist 2: Still a Crocozelle, Natch plays another Feral Fury for 3+3 to his foe [63], then turns to emulating Rhino and plays Indomitable Force. Down to one card in hand, he adds a Resilient Hide.

Ex-Patriette 2: Unable to play any of her cards, she draws Speed Loading and Reload.

Unity 2: Turret Bot blasts Deadline [60], then gets healed by Inspired Repair [5], drawing and playing a Supply Crate, which contains a Powered Shock Wave. Golem-Spawn seriously hurts Unity [5], but Platform Bot [3] seems worth it. Draws Modular Workbench, so she can stop hurting herself, and then deals 3 more damage to Deadline [57] with the new Bot.

Enviro 2: Found Wanting enters play on Deadline, logically enough. “YOU STAND ACCUSED OF DESTROYING THE COOLEST CARD I CONTAIN, HOW DO YOU PLEAD?”

Villain 3: Unflip; plays Severed Ley-Line and Auto-Armor Caster [9 after HTR]. So much for just burning him down. End-Glaive hits Natch for 2 net [12].

Naturalist 3: Switches Indomitable Force for Resilient Hide, and remains rhinoceros-like while drawing his two favorite cards, Natural-Born Vigor and Natural Form’s Power.

Ex-Patriette 3: Since using RPG Launcher on Severed Ley-Line would cost the heroes 3 HP each, nearly destroying the two Bots, it seems unwise to play any of her cards apart from Speed Loading, which she has no intention of using. So, activating Load, she fires her Rockets at THAT, allowing her to deal 2 damage to each of the Devices [End-Glaive 8, AAC 7]. Draws another Rocket Launcher.

Unity 3: Turret Bot shoots the End-Glaive [5]. Destroys Supply Crate for Hasty Augmentation and Flash Forge, playing the former to let Expat load her RPG Launcher, destroying HTR to blast the End-Glaive [3] and the AAC [5]. Skips her power phase, draws Robot Reclamation, and has Turret Bot finish off the Glaive.

Enviro 3: Celestial Executioner [6] shows up.

Villain 4: Heals 1 [64] while recycling the players’ trash. Plays two Unleashed Hurricanes, which sadly will affect Rhino-Natch unless he can get a point of armor. But he does nothing else for now.

Naturalist 4: Plays NBV, then uses Desperate Prey to mime Rhino some more, play NFP, and with his extra power heals 2 [14]. Draws another NFP.

Ex-Patriette 4: Manages to draw “Pride” and “Prejudice” on the same turn, in lieu of playing Ammo on her nonexistent guns.

Unity 4: Turret Bot blasts the AAC [2], then Powered Shock Wave takes it out and blasts DL for 3 [61], incidentally hitting the Executioner [3]. Draws Bee Bot and has Platform Bot blast Deadline again [58].

Enviro 4: The Executioner carries out his sentence upon Deadline [55]. Character Witnesses, a functionally blank card under current circumstances, is played.

Villain 5: Deadline heals a point [56]; I don’t bother reshuffling any decks other than Unity’s. The Hurricanes force Expat to undraw Reload and Liquid Nitrogen Rounds, and each one lets Deadline hit his nemesis for 2 [10]. He then plays Unnatural Disaster, adding Magnetic Pole Shift and Severed Ley-Line to his FLIP; the destruction of Found Wanting brings out the Chamber again, and then three more environments are destroyed, resulting in advanced self-damage which nearly kills Unity [1] and leaves Expat a little weak in the knees [8]. The resilient Natch doesn’t care, but he’s about to: 6 damage to him [4] and 5 damage to Expat [3] makes things look grim, and Unity dies along with both of her Bots. A single Executioner leaves the enviro deck, but so do both remaining Paragons of Sentience (and a Chamber and a Called to Judgment); the heroes are officially off the hook with the Executioners, small comfort though this is.

Naturalist 5: Heals 1 [5]. Plays Cornered Beast just because he can, then activates Desperate Prey (which certainly describes him well at the moment), drawing Crafty Assault. Heals with NFP [7] and draws Threatening Stomp.

Ex-Patriette 5: She may not have as many as 4 HP, but she at least has her Pride, and Deadline has 2 fewer HP [54]. Draws the Nitro Rounds.

Unity 5: Tells Natch to play Threatening Stomp on his nemesis for 5 [49]; the optional redirection is questionable when he takes extra damage, but it might keep Expat alive, and even if her dead form might be more beneficial to the match, I hate to see her keep dying in my games, so that’s a priority.

Enviro 5: Celestial Adjudicator [12] enters play.

Villain 6: Unflips, playing Severed Ley-Line and his last Orogenesis (he really likes that mountain-making gimmick).

Naturalist 6: Heals 1 [8]. Plays the extra NFP, in case he ever wants to double up on its power, but for now sticks to just 2 healing [10] and drawing a card to stay Rhino-esque. He gets another Threatening Stomp and a Predator’s Eye.

Ex-Patriette 6: Shows her Prejudice against those who threaten her Pride; Deadline takes 4 [45] and she draws the Reload, finally getting dry after those Hurricanes.

Unity 6: Natch plays Threatening Stomp again, dropping Deadline to [40] and again commanding his attention as much as he’s willing to.

Enviro 6: The Adjudicatrix digs out a Found Wanting, then another one tries to enter play but is discarded for lack of targets.

Villain 7: Heals [41]; Natch reshuffles his Stomps. Orogenesis plays Character Witnesses, and the heroes take damage [Natch 8, Expat 1]; 1 point even affects the Adjudicator [11]. Deadline then plays a Hurricane and FLIPs; the destruction of Found Wanting kills Expat, sparing Natch any further worries about taking damage for her, and plays an Executioner who immediately dies, along with his boss and the new mountain. (“Mount Character Witnesses? That’s a stupid name….” turn out to be Expat’s last words.) Natch takes 4 [4], and both Found Wantings go out of the deck along with one more Executioner.

Naturalist 7: Heals [5], then decides to change things up; skipping his play phase, he activates Desperate Prey for Crocodile this time, then plays the Predator’s Eye on Deadline, drawing Primal Charge and Feral Fury, and dealing 3 damage to Deadline [38]. Then activates NFP, and since he’s currently pretending to be a Rhinodile, he gets both healing [7] and to deal 1 toxic to Deadline, which is boosted to 3 [35]. Draws Indomitable Force, and then ceases to be a Rhino.

Ex-Patriette 7: It’s super-helpful that she grants Powers, for this lets her activate Desperate Prey to resume Natch’s Rhino-ness; playing Primal Charge as a Rhinodile turns out to be great, especially with +2 to damage from nemesis and Predator’s Eye, as he hits Deadline for 4 and then for 5 [26].

Unity 7: Has Natch play Feral Fury, dealing 4+4 to his foe [18]. Sure hope I’m not going to regret how aggro I went there…

Enviro 7: The Adjudicator fixes her hair from the earlier mountain-ride [12] and returns to play.

Villain 8: Unflips and plays the Pandemonium Key [10] and an Unnatural Disaster, which gets Subduction Super-Zone and Severed Ley-Line. Next turn is not going to be fun for Natch….

Naturalist 8: Still a Rhinodile, although his Predator’s Eye has blinked, he heals [8], then plays Indomitable Force (not that this will do any damn good; with the Endglaive gone, nearly all of Deadline’s damage is irreducible), and then activates both NFPs, each of which lets him heal [12] and damage Deadline for 2 [14]. Ends his turn by returning to human shape, but not before he draws another Predator’s Eye.

Ex-Patriette 8: Lets Natch use Desperate Prey, becoming a Crocodile and playing The Predator’s Eye; at this point he disdains card-drawing in favor of extra damage, dealing a whopping 5 to Deadline [9].

Unity 8: Though tempted to have Natch play his last card for 4 more damage to Deadline, this is insufficient to secure a win, so instead she destroys the Pandemonium Key outright, just to reduce the risk of Deadline suddenly doing something horrid.

Enviro 8: The Adjudicator searches through all her surviving databases, files, and even physical books, but finds that all three of these sources (the three cards remaining in her deck) no longer contain any laws that she can accuse anyone of breaking. Discarding all these sources, she takes no notice as they reshuffle themselves and play the Celestial Chamber, which plays a Celestial Executioner [6].

Villain 9: The Super-Zone deals 2 damage to each of the Tribunal AI’s [Adjudicator 10, Executioner 4], but Naturalist takes 4 [8]. Deadline heals [10] and reshuffles Natch’s trash. Deadline plays another Super-Zone, then FLIPs; though slightly disappointed by the destruction of the two AI’s, who were going to turn on Cornered Beast on his next turn, Natch refuses as always to take psychic damage from their deaths. As I did a moment ago, I use dice to shuffle the four-card enviro deck, putting a D4 on each of the surviving cards with a different number on each, and rolling one more d4 to determine the single card which remains to keep the game from ending; it proves to be Mount Character Witnesses itself, which I will now flavor as being a holographic display of various high points from Natch’s life, and the holodeck in question is now the only part of the sword-shaped space station which Deadline has completely destroyed (probably Captain Kirk-style, getting the AI’s to ask themselves unanswerable legal questions until their circuits melt). 4 more damage to Natch, leaving him at [4], is definitely a combat stance that the both of them have wound up in repeatedly as they continue to brawl through his illustrated life story.

Naturalist 9: Not currently pretending to be a Rhino, he doesn’t heal, but he does play Crafty Assault now, dealing 3 damage without Predator’s Eye up, to leave Deadline at [7]. He then uses both NFPs to deal 4 more damage, and ends his turn drawing yet another Predator’s Eye.

Ex-Patriette 9: I could just activate Cornered Beast to have Natch eat his foe alive at this point, since he’s at [3]. But for Rule of Cool, I’ll instead activate Desperate Prey to emulate Crocodile, play The Predator’s Eye, and draw two cards (which happen to be Primal Charge and Bestial Shift, the best cards in Hunted Natch’s deck), before dealing damage – and what the heck, let’s leave Deadline alive for one more turn, and just have Natch hit himself for 1 damage which Resilient Hide prevents (figure this is equivalent to the classic scene, found for sure in “Batman V. Superman” but probably in no shortage of other superhero comic books and various movies as well – possibly including the first “Injustice” video game, I can’t recall if it showed up there - where the hero is about to super-punch the villain’s face in, but instead punches the wall just next to his head).

Unity 9: Plays Bestial Shift, using the Crocodile ability to hit himself for 3 [1], then use Desperate Prey to emulate Gazelle and play Primal Charge, drawing The Deadly Crocodile, another Resilient Form, Hyperactive Senses and Indomitable Force. Only now, when the alternative would be outright killing himself, does Natch finally do in Deadline with 5 total damage from the Crocodile part of Primal Charge. If I could have avoided that (well, activating these animal abilities is always optional, so I didn’t have to damage myself at all this turn, but it’s more fun this way), I might have actually risked losing the game, in order to have the fun of getting an Environment turn where the only remaining card in the deck is already in play, so literally nothing can happen. In fact, let’s peek, if I had done that – okay, Deadline would get Unnatural Disaster to play two more Catastrophes, and then a third with his final ability, but Natch would still have gotten back to his turn intact. So we’ll say that does indeed happen, and allow Natch to play his actual Crocodile form before finally killing Deadline, who would otherwise unleash two Subduction Zones and then explode for at least 3 damage, plus destroying the environment.

Well, that was a nice battle (aside from Expat dying yet again; she’s the character who dies most often in my games, although her team loses less often than with Absolute Zero, Setback and Fanatic – granted, all of this is suspect, since I’m aware of these trends and thus have been steering them away from matches that I think will be hard for them, and perhaps those would be matches where they’d actually function better than I expect, although I doubt this). So nice, in fact, that it is now my head-canon of how Deadline the “anti-villain” turns into Lifeline the hero (assuming >G ever actually publishes him). It’s hard to come up with a better explanation of how the violent extremist would end up siding with Natch (who, for those who remember his backstory, is also essentially a former villain, loosely resembling the Chairman – there’s yet another theme battle I’ll have to try).
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