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From the Deck: Building From a Theme

One of the things I really like to do, but rarely have the time for, is to build a deck based on a theme. This won’t often be a tier one deck by any means, but it will be a fun deck—and if I can make it powerful while still hitting the notes I want from the theme, all the better.

For this exercise, I am taking two of my favorite shows on TV right now, Flash and Arrow, and building a theme deck around them. The idea here is to have troops and actions mimic the show, yet still be strong enough to play against your average deck and not disappoint you.

I started off without even thinking of what shards the deck would be, but what two cards might best represent our main characters. For Arrow it was easy: Heroic Outlaw. The name fits and, if not for the eye-patch, even the art fits our island-bound Oliver Queen. For Flash I had to think outside the box.

I wanted something that was fast, so it would need speed. Now I could give speed to the card with Lord Alexander, with Alex taking on the role of Harrison Wells; in that case, I’d want a card that was unblockable. I thought of Eldritch Dreamer and the possibilities that opened up with the socket. Then I realized that Alex giving speed wasn’t reliable enough, so the socket itself would have to give Barry Allen his own version of the speedforce. This put me into two shards: Ruby and Sapphire. I left Arrow, err I mean Heroic Outlaw’s sockets empty because I was working on a plan.

There are a vast number of supporting characters on the shows, and what better way to represent supporting characters than inspire? For Arrow I wanted to have Felicity Smoak, Roy Harper, and John Diggle. For Flash I wanted Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon. Harrison Wells would have to wait for a different deck for reasons I shouldn’t spoil for those who haven’t watched the show.

We’ll start with Caitlin and Cisco. Caitlin lost her fiance in the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator accident, but she became stronger for it. To represent her ability to lose people she loves and still maintain a level head I chose Cerulean Mirror Knight for her. For Cisco, he’s always coming up with crazy plans, almost at random, to help out the good guys. Highlands Magus was a perfect choice here.

On the Arrow side of the universe, Felicity Smoak should be weak but with an extremely strong, yet flexible effect. Azurefate Sorceress was almost tailor-made for her. When it comes to Roy Harper, I really wanted another character with a bow on his card, and Sniper of Gawaine seemed like the perfect “Arsenal” sidekick for our Heroic Outlaw.

This left just John Diggle, the man who rarely works in the field as he isn’t a masked vigilante. He does make the team better, either with a sniper rifle or simply a well timed inspirational speech. What better than to make him our Champion. Lionel Flynn seemed to hit all the notes I was looking for in a John Diggle representation.

Unfortunately this left me 1 slot short for my allocation. I wanted to have one more character from the shows, and I had a lot to choose from. I could choose Canary (either one) or Detective Lance, or Harrison Wells, Iris or Joe West, or even Eddie Thawne. But with Felicity in the deck, I figured I’d have to set up the love triangle that had been so prevalent this season with Ray Palmer, aka The Atom. In the show he’s got an Iron Man-style power suit that starts off wimpy but gets better as he tweaks with it and improves it. S.P.A.M. Bot seems like it fits the bill, and even has an acronym for the name like the A.T.O.M. suit Ray wears on the show.

I have two slots left, and these I wanted to save for actions that emulate stuff seen on the show. Fights on Arrow generally start with a bolt out of nowhere taking down a mook, so Burn was a great representation of that. And recently on The Flash, Barry Allen ran so fast he caused himself to go back in time, a… Time Ripple as it were.

As for gems, we have a lot of slots to fill between Outlaw and Sorceress. With the minor Ruby of Ferocity (speed) already in the Dreamer, I chose the minor Sapphire of Sky (flight) and the major Ruby of Destruction (direct damage) for the Sorceress. Felicity is always getting Team Arrow past defenses and pointing out the weaknesses of their enemies, so I can make those two gems work in her. Outlaw is a different story: again, Ferocity (speed) would have been ideal here, but I can make do with the major Sapphire of Mischief (quick action) gem instead. Hopefully Felicity is there to grant Oliver direct damage when he enters play. Since Ollie always seems to have the right arrow for the job at hand (or at the very least a trick up his sleeve), the major Sapphire of Mind (card draw) seemed like a good gem to represent that.

Arrow/The Flash Theme Deck

Champion: Lionel Flynn (aka John “Dig” Diggle)

Troops (28)

4x Cerulean Mirror Knight (Caitlin Snow)
4x Highlands Magus (Cisco Ramon)
4x S.P.A.M. Bot (The A.T.O.M.)
4x Azurefate Sorceress (Felicity Smoak) (Gems: Direct Damage, Flight)
4x Sniper of Gawaine (Arsenal/Roy Harper)
4x Eldritch Dreamer (The Flash) (Gem: Speed)
4x Heroic Outlaw (The Arrow) (Gems: Quick, Card Draw)

Actions  (8)

4x Burn (Arrow’s first strike)
4x Time Ripple (Flash’s time travel)

Resources (24)

12x Sapphire
8x Ruby
4x Shard of Innovation

While not the most competitive deck, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to play—especially when you start replacing in your head the character names for the cards you have in your hand (“Oh, I start this game with a Cisco, a Caitlin, an A.T.O.M. and a Felicity, nice!”), but what it really needs is a comparable deck to go up against. Something that represents the villains from both shows: Deathstroke, Captain Cold, Reverse Flash, Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins… you get the drift.

If you decide to make up a Villains deck along these lines and see me online, send me a whisper. Hopefully I’ll see the whisper and we can go toe-to-toe with our theme decks to see who would really come out on top: the Heroes or the Villains. And if you’re not watching either show, I highly recommend both. The first two seasons of Arrow are on Netflix and the third and first seasons of Arrow and The Flash are airing on the CW network Wednesday and Tuesday nights respectively.

Matt Miller, known as DeckOfManyThings in-game, is a professional MMO designer by day, and a Hex Kickstarter backer by night. He's been playing TCG's since being taught by Peter Adkinson how to play Magic: the Gathering with Alpha cards, and is now devoting a lion's share of his free time to playing and improving his skills at Hex. Find him at @ManyThingsDeck on twitter or /u/ManyThingsDeck on reddit.

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