Doomed Prophecy Article 9 – Restriction Breeds Creativity

Perfect game balance is impossible (and often undesirable), which means that some Tactics Cards are just going to be better than others. AMG, recognizing this, wisely introduced a system allowing them to ban or restrict overpowered cards – ensuring that the game will keep evolving with new releases rather than stagnate with the same 5 cards overshadowing everything else. With that system in place, we the players now get to enjoy figuring out which cards to take in those precious 2 restricted slots, which I will attempt to assist with here.

The first “group” of restricted tactics cards that I think about are the ones that effectively heal your characters. These include Brace for Impact (which counts as healing by preventing collision damage, which is usually around 4 damage), Patch up, disarm (by reducing opponent’s damage output) and sacrifice (which is less of a healing ability and more of a way to keep an important character alive a bit longer). Brace for Impact is by far the best of these options, since it only costs 1 or 2 power to use and will often prevent 3 or 4 damage – but beware that there are some teams that do not have any throws at all and therefore this card will do nothing. Patch up is best for teams that generate a ton of power and have characters with a lot of health (think Malekith or Sentinels). Disarm is better for teams with a lot of characters and not a lot of power (like web warriors), but is overall a weaker healing card than the others in its group. Sacrifice is extremely important for rearranging important attacks – whether that is having a 2 threat character absorb an enormous Helios Laser attack, or just spreading attacks between two characters in order to prevent either of them from being dazed.

Advanced R&D, amusingly, has been both errated to be weaker and placed on the restricted list, but is still worth taking in several lists. You mainly want to take this card with teams that struggle to generate power, but have important 2-3 cost superpowers. Web Warriors are a prime example of this, where a web line pull on turn 1 or a cat burglar steal on turn 2 can drastically change the course of the game, especially if your opponent thinks it isn’t possible.

Indomitable is an interesting card in that it both provides a bonus on scenario play by preventing a key push/throw off a scenario point and also occasionally prevents a lot of damage by stopping your characters from being thrown into each other. I often find that this card is out-competed by the other restricted cards, but it was ubiquitous when unrestricted so I understand why it has to be on the list. It’s still worth taking in heavily scenario-based lists like Kingpin and Winter Guard.

Follow Me is the most recent addition to the restricted list, and is interesting because it has been available for most of the game’s lifespan but only recently found to be powerful enough to be put on the restricted list. For a long time, we didn’t realize just how strong it was to manipulate the priority marker by front-loading all your activations – but Shadowlands daredevil made that clear when he combined it with all according to plan in order to take 3 activations in a row (going last the previous turn, stealing priority with all according to plan, then activating a second character with follow me) – and then almost certainly getting priority on the following turn as well. Granted, it takes a lot of power to do so, but there are several teams capable of using this card effectively, such as Malekith and Magneto.

Finally, there are the only non-tactics cards on the restricted list: the space and reality infinity gems. These additions are most likely targeted at Thanos splashes (where you just take Thanos with these two gems as a single roster slot, which used to have no penalty) and forces you to either take a less optimal set of infinity gems or to give up on powerful restricted cards. On the one hand, I really like how this affects Thanos in a psychological way (since he’ll make fewer rosters simply because people won’t want to give up on their restricted cards) rather than an actual mechanical way, but I am disappointed that it made the recently released (and fairly weak) Corvus-led Black Order to be even weaker. This does also affect Corvus splashes (which we’re also seeing a lot less of), and means that ebony maw and Loki are much more likely to take the mind gem over the space gem.

Those are all of the currently restricted cards in MCP, and some advice on which ones to use. I usually find myself defaulting to Brace for Impact as my first restricted slot, but I find the second choice to be a lot more open, and I gave rosters currently using  Advanced R&D, patch up and follow me. Overall, I think the restriction system does a good job of creating card variety without having to redo the entire core ruleset.

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