Written by Josh Bailey
A Protection archetype that I’ve been referring to as an “immortal” build arrived on the scene with the Doctor Strange hero pack. This archetype is built around Unflappable and assisted by Desperate Defense from that pack. I actually started playing around with this kind of deck in Black Widow with Defensive Stance and her Synth-Suit, but now I don’t feel like I even need that preparation card to achieve my goals.
The idea is simple: defend villain attacks, take no damage, profit from that defense, and stay in hero form the entire game to minimize threat accrual. This archetype, like probably all archetypes, seems best suited in solo play to Captain America. The primary opportunity cost to defending is that you are usually exhausted for the hero phase, but with Cap’s built-in readying and the card draw from Unflappable this cost can be negated almost completely.
So here’s the primary kit: Armored Vest, Desperate Defense, Electrostatic Armor, Energy Barrier, Unflappable, and Preemptive Strike. All of those cards either boost your defense, reduce/prevent damage, or reward you for defending. Because defending is such a good option for this deck, I also run 3 copies of Get Behind Me. There is sometimes the criticism of Get Behind Me that a villain attack is as bad or worse than most encounter cards in most situations. But this deck turns that around because, usually, I’d rather see a villain attack than almost anything else. I initially ran Indomitable as well but, honestly, I never seemed to need the ready that often. That’s only in solo games though so I would probably include it for multiplayer. I see it as nearly-equivalent to Desperate Defense and prefer that card’s Defense boost for early turns when I’m not set up.
Also missing from this deck list is any healing like Med Team or Second Wind. If things are going right you won’t need to heal (or recover). Night Nurse is only here because I had one extra slot left and thought some answer to status cards would be warranted. You might be wondering, “Why include Iron Fist and his amazing stun ability if the whole point is to get attacked?” Well, stunning the villain is still good even if you profit off of defense (because you never know what Boost cards might do), but also because his ability is really good against Tough (if that status card came out due to an encounter card so all your various sources of ping damage couldn’t remove it before the hero phase) and it turns into pseudo-encounter cancellation with Get Behind Me as you would still only take the one villain attack that phase.
Once you’re set up, you should be able to defend the villain with 4 defense, possibly negate a boost, then prevent and redirect up to 3 more damage with Energy Barriers. Finally, the villain (or minion) will take 1 damage from Retaliate and 1 damage from Electrostatic Armor, and you will likely draw a card from Unflappable. If facing multiple attacks you defend first with Desperate Defense then go into the above scenario on subsequent attacks. With a full set-up you can defend and take no damage while dealing a total of 2-8 damage back (maybe plus another 2 from Nova). This means it’s not rare to defeat the villain during the Villain Phase.
For multiplayer I would probably consider playing this in Spider-Man, but there’s not quite enough thwarting in that build for me to consider in solo. The fact that Cap’s Shield gives him 3 Defense and Retaliate 1 is what really puts him over the top for me here, and of course readying at the cost of a card to use 2 Thwart or 2 Attack is very good. Another option would be to use Black Panther. He would have 1 fewer point of Defense but, once you’re set up, I don’t think you’ll notice that and he has a small amount of healing through Vibranium Suit anyway. His Wakanda upgrades and Wakanda Forever! will make up for the fact that he doesn’t ready as often. I might play Indomitable over Desperate Defense or Get Behind Me in Panther.
My biggest success with this deck so far is beating Expert Klaw with Kree Fanatic where of course Ronan was the minion revealed during set-up. I flipped back to Alter-Ego once during that game, though I didn’t Recover, and won with just a single point of damage on my identity. I think I only used Steve’s Apartment twice and Night Nurse once so I must have taken a total of 4 damage the whole game. I have also beaten Expert Mutagen Formula with Kree Fanatic, though I took a bit more than 4 damage in that game.
If you’ve been unable to find a Protection deck you enjoy playing in Solo, I hope you’ll give this one a try and let me know what you think. Thank you for reading.
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