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The State of the Meta, February 2023

It’s early 2023, we’re in the middle of the looooooooooong wait for Secret Wars and the all-new Modern meta doesn’t seem so new anymore. It was pretty much solved a while back, with Master Mold (plus Villainous Pact) floating to the top like an unflushable turd, Bardy Allen nipping at his heels, and everything else a distant third. Long live chunky stats, combat damage and naked aggression, woo-hoo!

What could possibly break the mutant hunter’s strangle-hold? The organisers of Dice Fight – NefariousBroadcaster and mPire – decided to do a little experimenting to find out. They dedicated two of the weekly online tournaments to ‘Tweaked Modern’. In ‘Dexter’s Laboratory’, they banned the Rare Mister Sinister global, postulating that the lack of such a brain-free ramping option might rain on the purple robot’s parade. This didn’t really have the desired effect, so for the next event, ‘The Lasso of Truth’, they brought out the big guns: the distraction global.

This has appeared in numerous iterations, and [SPOILER – hover to reveal or click here]. It basically allows either player to pay a mask in the global window of the attack step in order to make it so a die which was declared as an attacker is no longer attacking. This has two main uses: as the defender, you can keep back a bunch of masks and effectively use them instead of blockers. Suddenly, in order to calculate the number of Sentinel tokens they need for lethal, the Master Mold player not only has to count your villains, but also your masks. Unless, of course, they brought the ‘doomcal’ global:

Yes, Wizkids, in their infinite wisdom, have chosen to resurrect this most cheesy of globals, which has not been seen since the heady days of Yu-Gi-Oh! And they’ve given us not one version, but two, and long before the meta even has a need for it. Anyone would think they wanted to see more combat damage going through. Fortunately, the Distraction global has at least one more use which might help to re-balance the meta. A prime enabler for Mold and his ilk is the positive plethora of taunt globals currently available in Modern:

If a Mold player sees something across the field that might spoil their fun, with just a little foresight, they can force that die to attack on their opponent’s turn. With no Distraction (or force block global) available, the Molder can simply let that piece through, eat the damage, and breathe easy on their next turn (the attacker might instead be able to KO it with the Dark Phoenix global, but it’s still gone for a turn). Sometimes it’s just a potential blocker that they dispose of, but it could also be one of the excellent control pieces that could interfere with their wincon:

Obviously, there’s only so much damage you can eat, but sometimes a turn or two is all you need. So the second main use of Distraction is to allow an attacking control player to keep their control pieces in the field so that they can do their job the following turn. It might also re-open the door to the while-active wincons which suffered similarly under the cosh of force-attack globals:

You can check out what happens when Thor and Jubilee get to do their thing in these videos I recently made with Jayson Lucero. But Jayson is a Maker, and very definitely not a Molder. Will any of this be enough to stem the purple tide? At this point, I’ll hand you over to our chief-correspondent, Danny, aka NefariousBroadcaster:

Dice Fight – The Lasso of Truth!

Format: Modern, no bans. Distraction/Static available as if in Modern

We had 2 Master Mold builds and 3 teams using control pieces including Static Field. Both MM teams were similar, using Sinister, Villainous Pact, D’Ken and a force attack. I brought one the MM teams and felt the Gladiator global was essential with Static Field in the mix, while [Collector]Rob left it out, sticking to Laurier’s world beater to see how it would fare. The “control” teams had a variety of different characters and control elements, with Colossus, Thor and Anti-Monitor as the main wincons. They all lacked any type of prep globals and ramp, presumably relying on the Master Mold teams predictable inclusion of VP and Sinister.

CollectorRob (Rob)

NefariousBroadcaster (Danny)

rincevent (Clem)

mPire (Rick)

alsodanlowe (Dan)

My first match up was with Rick [mPire], who had an aggressive Thor team. My game plan was to prep turn 1 (as you do), Sinister on Rick’s turn, and buy the Mold on turn 2. I missed my first chance landing MM but Sinistering mercilessly brought him back around with no problems. My next, and last purchase was VP. I had 6 or 7 tokens in the field but felt I had to hold back on the offensive as Rick was holding on to masks.

With 3 types of sidekick maker available, he had plenty of options for his leftover energy, giving me a headache trying to play around Static Field and/or avoiding Thor damage. I was down to 8 life pretty quick thanks to Thor. I missed my VP roll with a lethal field, Rick hit me for another 2 on his priority, then rolled and fielded 3 characters next turn for the win. 

My second game was against Dan Lowe [alsodanlowe]. Thor/Batman is a strong strategy but Dan was going to try to keep my field low with Anti-Monitor, using regenerating Supergiants to get the damage in. The uncommon Doctor Fate also posed a threat to my tokens, but couldn’t keep up with the rate I was producing them. Interestingly, Dan purchased one of my VP actions early, forcing me to reach for D’Ken on the next turn. I had luck with my rolls in this game, landing everything I needed when I needed it, while Dan’s VP didn’t roll once! Maybe I’d learned from the first game, but I managed to build a field, stay alive, and roll VP for lethal damage. 

I didn’t manage to watch any of Rob’s games, but his MM team finished with 1 win, against Dan’s Anti-Monitor team, and 1 loss, against Clem’s [rincevent’s] Colossus team. Apparently, Rob had missed MM early, giving Clem chance to set up Lilandra, slowing Rob down and getting his Colossus to take care of the damage for the win. 

Rick had the most success with a loss against Dan (Anti-Monitor) and wins against my MM team and Clem’s Colossus team. From experience, Rick played aggressively, keeping a wide field when it mattered and using sidekick makers and Poison Ivy to trigger Thor. D’ken isn’t as effective against ping damage as he is against a huge unblocked swing. Static Field allowed Thor more opportunity to stay in the field, and slow MM down enough to get the damage in. And like I’ve said, with so many sidekick making options, the damage stacks up very quickly. 

We all spoke after the games and agreed that we’d like another go with the same format, so we’ll fit it in somewhere soon. Personally, I’m not sure I’d change too much from my team. I didn’t come up against Wonder Woman and was planning on using Gladiator’s intimidate or Besmirch against her to keep Master Mold doing his thing.

Overall, I think Static Field helps to balance the game. It’s easy to counter on the attack, Gladiator global and Villainous Pact will send through enough damage to win in one turn. But, by keeping control pieces in the field, it allows enough time for a control team to stay in the running. 

The results were all quite even, we all had a least one win and one loss. Master Mold is still very much a huge threat, but I think Static Field allows Thor in particular, with the many ways to field characters,  to get back to level pegging at the top.

So what do you think? Is it worth expanding the small sample size for a more in depth investigation? Is Distraction the rebalancing global that the current meta needs? Or are you happy with the Mold Fest? Sound off in the comments!