Shield & Spies & Spells, Oh my! - Adam Warlock Encounter Con

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Theberg123 · 293

So I've always been curious how little experimentation seems to happen with Adam Warlock decks. For how broad the character's deckbuilding can be it seems the only popular strategies are Good stuff toolbox decks or Voltron/set up forever decks. So trying to be the change I want to see, I started with a few weird concepts and lots of testing. Though I don't think I succeeded 100% in the ways I wanted to (this deck definitely has many Adam Warlock Good Stuff staples that I will go into why I did not cut), I still think the end result is a deck with a unique playstyle/strategy approach and is super fun to boot. Once you've got an understanding of this deck you can get consistent Expert victories with games that feel super unique based on Encounters and Team Comps (or lack thereof).

Editor's Note: I've had lots of success and consistent victories with this deck, however, I do not recommend taking this against unfamiliar encounters. Playing it against scenarios you've lost to is fine as it has lots of answers to the problems you might be seeing, but playing against a encounter for the first time might be frustrating without properly managing your tools and threats.

Results: These include only matchups played with the final decklist. This is possibly the greatest number of times I've revised a deck, so including all the matchups from earlier versions seemed disingenuous. All matchups are played on Expert with Standard I/Expert I. Two-Handed games with the final list were all done with a Protection Spectrum list focused on readying. Encounters were played until victory (so victory occured on the last attempt against the encounter).

Solo:

  • Rhino with Frost Giants (1-0)
  • Red Skull default mods (1-0)
  • Zola with Hyde (1-0)
  • Klaw with Anachronaughts (1-3)
  • Klaw with Sinister Assault (1-0)
  • Loki default mods (1-0)
  • Collector I default mods (1-0)
  • Venom Goblin default mods (1-1)
  • Drang with default mods (1-0)
  • Crossbones with Legion of Hydra/Hydra Assault/Hydra Patrol (1-0) Two-Handed:
  • Thanos default mods (1-0)
  • Venom with Band of Badoon (1-0)
  • Collector II default mods (1-0)

Strategy

This is a control strategy, though slightly different from the normal usage of the word in Marvel Champions. Control in the form of prevention is just as important here as control in the form of managing threats after they touch the table. If you're familiar with Instant heavy decks in Magic or backrow heavy decks in Yu-Gi-Oh this will feel like a consolidated version of those (I'll cover the problems I had trying to go deeper down this road later). This is done with cards like Cosmic Ward (x2), Black Widow, Spycraft, and Global Logistics. Cosmic Ward is extremely effective way to deal with encounter cards at only 2ER, though it's a Forced Interrupt and only works on Treacheries, many enemies you can identify cases where this should be out. Black Widow and Spycraft both have had their ups and downs with community perception, even in past AW decks. They are out front and center here though, and carry their weight while managing what kind of game you play. Global Logistics does control in a different way, but with the info you gain and how you can coordinate with the previous mentioned pieces it is an all-star.

Now because these are your main game pieces, knowing what problems you're going to face and what solutions you have at your disposal is important to look at every turn. To play this deck to its best you should actively know what enemy cards are in the discard, deck (and what they do, knowing the full details of a card instead of broad strokes is important here), as well as keeping track of what's in your own deck and discard and the effects they can have on the game. It helps as well to understand this about teammates as well, but don't do it in a way that you come off as quarter backing, asking them what they can do and working from their is probably going to be the base you'll usually start from.

With that said, this deck also has great Threat Management, effective Minion Controlling tools, and a steady string of allies which provide flexibility and defense. This compounds with the already high flexibility of Adam Warlock's kit to give you a experience that handles a whole array of issues thrown at it. In many multiplayer games you'll also fit more closely to a Justice or Protection role with how good damage and threat mitigation is here, in case you wanted a slot to plug this, though it does have the high utility AW decks tend to have anyway if you want to branch out.

Basic

I'll cover card choices by aspect here, since that's where restrictions are baked into the deck building.

For starters, the Mystic cards here are obvious enough that I never considered cutting them. Spiritual Meditation is effectively -1 to deck size, increases deck cycling, and let's you consider more options on turns it comes up. The Sorcerer Supreme is also great scaling for cheap. I wanted to reduce the amount of setup this deck played compared to many AW decks and this card stuck around because it was that valuable.

Mockingbird and Nick Fury both are Shield and Spy traited, unlocking Spycraft and Global Logistics. Everyone knows Mockingbird's stun on a stick and Fury's card cycling are good so I won't go into detail. But I will say don't overlook Fury's other options especially when Make the Call is being used to find a solution.

Vivian is both two cost and has an ability that you will keep finding uses for. She was especially good against Loki and Red Skull with the deck being able to recure her enough that those games honestly were very uneventful. She also has helped manage some terrible situations with Venom Goblin. When she's bad she's good, and when she's good she's awesome.

Meditation I feel is one of the most overlooked cards for AW. With many high value resource cards being Aspect specific, early game economy can be rough with only EGS. Since you often don't need your REC as AW and the fact that this deck does very well at threat management, the Alter-ego and exhausts costs are more than manageable. But seriously, this is super valuable in the early game, don't underestimate it. I don't think I need to explain why Energy, Genius, and Strength are good.

Aggression

This is the spot on the deck that has the most leeway to change, but I urge you to look at and understand what each card here does and the role it serves and justify why you are replacing it.

Spider-Girl is a more specific, harder hitting Vivian, and is a card that can represent damage mitigation, threat mitigation, and affect mitigation in many circumstances, only wish I included her sooner in testing.

I know many will not be fond of Toe to Toe here, but it is a very effective tool for minion removal which let's us set up our control tools in the same turn we play it, our Health is also usually more than fine to take a minion hit (avoid using on the villian unless you're pushing game). I wanted to make a deck without Magic Attack, but it ultimately is just too effective at being a solution we want, and there were not any great synergies we could exploit from Agression to justify something else. Into the Fray is great Minion removal with extra Threat management, we can even work in our battle mage ability with another Agression card or an ally with high ATK like Spider-Girl to convert more damage to threat removal.

Justice

We already covered Spycraft and Global Logistics roles here. Agent Coulson is here for another AW good stuff staple with the Coulson Loop, but also is super valuable in having the traits to key off our other Justice cards, while also being able to search Spycraft when necessary. His 2 THW is also spectacular. I will say with how much chump blocking this deck already runs I find myself wanting to break the loop more often than in other decks, which I'll cover more in the Leadership section.

Zone of Silence, another card I wanted to skip for originality's sake but didn't. The reason being once we skip over many of the situational justice cards, what we're left with is cards that sub-optimaly do things the rest of the deck already does, or lower tempo played then ZoS. So here it stays.

Leadership

Probably the least creative section, but with good reason, these are generically good cards that have legitimate synergy with the deck. I'm surprised "Welcome Aboard" is not as universal in AW decks, especially with how ally heavy he's usually built and the economy issues I mentioned earlier. We happily include it. Make the Call is amazing with the diverse ally pool we have and gives a necessary cheat for Pinpoint (more on him in the Protection section).

Summoning Spell pulls allies, mills cards, and can cheat play resource cost, but is generally good even when it hits a 2-Cost ally. Being aware of what's in your deck can let you make better judgement calls on this cards current value. Back to Rapid Response, the steady string of Allies we want to play for effects to then chump block with means we won't always need the Coulson Loop here to protect ourselves, I find myself breaking it most frequently to use Mockingbird, Nick Fury, and Vivian, but also Spider-Girl to manage Minions and thread the needle on closing games. If threat seems to be a more consistent issue I'd recommend keeping it up though since Coulson does a lot with his 2 THW, or if you still need a trait on play for your control tools.

Protection

If you haven't touched Black Widow much since the Core set you'll be surprised how much she does here. 2 Threat removal when she's played is great, has both traits we want in play, and provides extra encounter card mitigation for dangerous threats. Med Team has the Sheild trait as well, and probably will be the frequent way to pay Global Logistics cost in solo, where it's mostly just used to either top off your hero or heal a unlooped Coulson to cash in on more thwarting. Different beast in Multiplayer though, your table is gonna find plenty of good ways for you to use this and love you for it, probably one of the main targets for Pinpoint outside of solo play. Speaking of....

Yes Pinpoint is trait locked, but people have been using Make the Call (and Summoning Spell) to get around that since the mechanic debuted. Yes you already have Quantum Magic to replay cards, but Pinpoint is definitely playing a different role to that. There are many cards that you do not want to pay a 1 resource premium on to recure like with Quantum magic, and Pinpoint leaves Quantum Magic open to solve problems on board as opposed to reusing something to up consistency. The best target in solo is (generally) Cosmic Ward, you'd be amazed the amount of encounters that are trivialized by having this consistently in play. In Multiplayer you want to shift focus to Spycraft since you can handle other players threats and a larger variety, as well as other targets your teammates will have and again, love you for helping out with. He is also just good insurance for Caught off Gaurd and can pull the gas off Collector I very effectively. Don't overlook this card!

Sheild Spell is the same song and dance as the other Mystic cards, but is definitely the one I'm least convinced on. You're going to have more than enough chump blockers usually especially if the Coulson Loop is up, so this is usually used for surprise Villian attacks, Quickstrike Minions, Surprise Overkill, or preserving the last HP of a ally to use their 2 THW or ATK. All of these are legitimate uses and the card has unquestionable value, so it stays in instead of any more situational protection cards.

Weaknesses

You can probably see this easily on the listed games, encounters with brutal boost affects hurt this deck. My first loss against Klaw + Anachronaughts I assumed was a low roll after seeing 11 boost cards in 2 turns. But it consistently struggled against long boost affect chains. Even in the late game I'd notice my control options would be whittled down and then another chain of boost affects would cripple my position. The Venom Goblin loss also felt more brought on by the Symbiotic Strength modular, but this could've been me focusing more on the actual Venom Goblin cards and scary parts of the Goblin Gear set.

This is actually why I wanted to test against Venom with Badoon in Multiplayer but things honestly felt perfectly fine? This might be a result of how gamey Venom's chime mechanic can be and how the Badoon mod presents more threats by putting them on board to deal with instead of chaining bad effects that just happen to you.Target Acquired is certainly a option if you want to tech for those matchups, though if you're doing that I'd go ahead and analyze what those boost affects are doing and maybe more directly adjust the deck to face them.

What didn't make the cut/possible substitutes

Like I said before, this list is pretty tight in a lot of areas, many times replacing a given card might mean you should replace 1-3 others.

The Power in All of Us was here at one point since we pretty much always want to play our basic cards when we can and a wild resource was welcome more often than I felt it should be. The more generic economy of Mediation took over though here.

Homeland Intervention was in originally when I was trying not to play Zone of Silence, but since setting up Sheild cards can be slow in high pressure encounters it was dropped.

Boot Camp was in at some point as a tool to close out games but felt unnecessary. Plan of Attack was also in to provide more options in minion management and give another good Alter-Ego card, but ultimately solutions seemed to show up enough without using it, so it got discarded for battlemage a lot.

Really wanted Gamora in here despite being another commonly used card for AW, but early game she would discard a lot of control tools and setup that did not feel good, and late game she felt rather win more and almost like just another piece of set-up, so she got cut.

Finally, this deck started from an idea of trying to play every aspect specific Web-Warrior card together with the Spy stuff for max possible treachery control. Don't do this, it's pure cope, but was honestly kind of fun and was where this decks roots lied, so I wanted to mention it somewhere.

Closing

Glad I got this out before Mutant Genesis, and am happy with the end product here. Happy playing everyone!

2 comments

Sep 27, 2022 teamcanadahockey2002 · 3432

Sweet deck! I agree that AW doesnt get as much experimentation as he deserves.

For control purposes, any consideration to Wraith? Some boosts are starting to become quite troublesome..

Sep 27, 2022 Theberg123 · 293

@teamcanadahockey2002 You are not the only one to make that suggestion, and for good reason! Wraith was honestly a card I completely overlooked in brewing before getting comfortable with testing this decks final draft. I personally would try to sub out Zone of Silence for them as the deck generally does very well with Threat management, though that is a rather large threat management swing to compensate. In previous iterations after cutting Power in All of Us I breifly toyed with the idea of cutting the basic pool down enough to get in one more card of each aspect which I think would be a good way to integrate wraith.

Though as like I said in the post that is a 4-card change for one suggestion, so it is likely something I'd need to do some testing and refinement on. Only other concern is board space when Wraith rubs elbows with Coulson, Pinpoint, and BW, though this deck already throws those allies to the discard quickly once you see you need something else so that's not the biggest issue.