Not gonna lie, I've been very unexcited about all the s5 drops since Bast back in December...until now! High Evolutionary (High Evo) looks awesome to me. I will begin by saying that by no means am I claiming I have the best 12 cards to make a deck, but I do think I have a very strong shell/direction to go with the card.
High Evo will be our s5 drop on May 23rd, and despite the fact I talk a lot about not buying a s5 card right on release, I entirely plan to purchase High Evo day 1!
Let's start with an explanation of how the card (should) works. Just like Thanos, at the start of the game, before you draw any cards, he changes your "no ability" cards into Evolved version of themselves. You do not need to draw or play him to get his effect. Here are the evolved versions of the cards:
Wasp - On Reveal: Afflict 2 random enemy cards here with -1 Power.
Misty Knight - When you end a turn with unspent Energy, give another friendly card +1 Power.
Shocker - On Reveal: Give the leftmost card in your hand -1 Cost.
Cyclops - When you end a turn with unspent Energy, afflict 2 random enemies here with -1 Power.
The Thing - On Reveal: Afflict a random enemy card here with -1 Power. Repeat this twice more.
Abomination - Costs 1 less for each enemy card in play that's afflicted with negative Power.
Hulk - Ongoing: +2 Power for each turn you ended with unspent Energy.
As you can see, there are 7 of them. There are overlapping ideas between different ones, but I think an incorrect way to build around High Evo is to simply smash all 7 into the deck and call it good. I think we can look for strong synergistic packages using other cards and strategies within the game. To answer a common question, no, Patriot will not longer buff these cards. They now have abilities as their evolved version!
Now, I also want to touch on the fact that while a [4/7] statline isn't amazing, it's also not unplayable - meaning if he's in your hand on turn-4 and you don't have a better play, you aren't losing the game because you choose to play him, especially if you have a strong followup.
Yea, there's 2 slots not yet decided! Options are discussed further down. Also, I hate this as a deck name, but I dunno what else to call it. A very strong playline, in general, is to limit our opponent's play on turn-6. Sandman, Wave, and Aero (though she was just nerfed) are the common ways to hamper our opponent in this manner. Wave of course is often paired with cost reduction from She-Hulk or Death to allow the person playing her to double drop, while limiting the opponent to a single card.
The biggest strength (or highroll potentially) for this deck is now having 2 cards that are reduced in cost - She Hulk and Abomination. In an ideal situation, our turn-5 played Wave (and perhaps EvolvedWasp), floating 2 energy. This sets She-Hulk to 2 cost on turn-6 and provides a needed trigger on EvolvedCyclops to give two -1 afflictions to the enemy, making it so Abomination will cost 0 on turn-6. The end result? We can play She-Hulk, Abomination, and Aero on turn-6. Yea, Aero was just nerfed...but if the opponent can only play 1 card because of Wave, she is actually 1 more power than she was before the nerf.
This is a very powerful and controlling turn-6. Admittedly, however, it is the best case scenario. That brings us to a discussion about how the deck functions outside of this part. Wasp is a very energy-efficient card, regardless at [0/3] in essence. Shocker comes in at a net [1/3], which is nothing amazing, but does open up other lines - pretend we do not draw Wave, a full skip on turn-5 (or play Wasp) can still allow us to play the turn-6 She-Hulk + Aero so long as Shocker hit one of the 2 (and perhaps Abom to go along with it, if we hit 5 afflictions there). And of course, just Wave and She-Hulk can always allow for a double drop of any card (again, Aero shines here and is still a strong card in the right situations).
And even just looking at very low synergy rates (Abom will get something surely), we have:
- Wasp - [0/3]
- Shocker - [1/3]
- Cyclops - [3/6] pretty easily, can get more.
- Thing - [4/9]
- Abom - [3/9] if at least 1 of the affliction cards hits
Past that, Scorpion has already been accepted as a strong card that plays into the synergy at lowering Abom's cost.
This leaves 2 slots unaccounted for, and this is where I'm the most unsure. Some options are:
- Luke Cage - if this deck needs to be countered. This should ruin Abom's cost lowering.
- Hazmat - can pair with Luke Cage and/or can help ensure Abom's cost reduction. Low power on her own, and takes a lot of slots to get a full hazmat combo going, but maybe there's a route there. Debrii, Hood, Viper, Green Goblin all enter the equation if we want to do this sort of a play.
- Rogue or Enchantress - if we just need counter-play to an opponent's Luke Cage (or other ongoing), tech options work.
- Killmonger or Shang-Chi - speaking of tech options.
- Spider-Woman - she ruins the Wave play, but is another way to get Abom's cost where we want it.
- Chavez - deck thinning, though we like to draw at least 3 of our cards on turn-6, so unsure on this one.
- Kang - 'cause he does Kang things for cubes/etc.
- Lizard - solid tempo card to have init for Aero. Pairs with Luke Cage as well!
- Zabu - we have 4-drops.
- Polaris or Maximus - same as above.
- Armor - if we have init, we want Abom and/or She-Hulk to survive...we also like stopping opponent strategies, especially when we are giving them negative power units.
- Misty Knight - I don't like her, but it's not crazy to run her I guess.
- Hulk - this just can't be right in my mind, but honorable mention I guess.
- Silver Surfer (+ maybe Brood) - we are running 2x 3-drops already, Surfer could hit a [3/6] without Brood. I think to go this route, some other stuff has to change with the deck (like maybe Thing gets cut, not sure). I don't love it, but worth mentioning regardless.
Generally, I want to play good cards. As such, I'm currently leaning into some combination of Shang-Chi, Killmonger, Polaris, Armor, and Lizard. This decision is ultimately based on the meta.
I do not think a Hazmat-centric deck even wants to play High Evo, so I'm going to exlcude that. Hazmat-centric decks are decks that are okay when Shuri or Sandman don't dominate the meta, but they are generally built around the Hazmat combo...nothing High Evo does helps that, despite both using the -1 afflictions. And you may be playing Hazmat turn-6 anyway, so Abom doesn't even get use.
As there are 2 main payoffs for High Evo (Abom and Hulk), let's look at a sample deck for the other one.
This deck wants to pass with unspent energy somewhat regularly, so the first thoughts go to Sunspot, She-Hulk, and MAYBE Infinaut. Misty Knight and Cyclops are the other 2 no-ability cards that care about unspent mana, so we add them as well. Shocker being a discount is perhaps good enough as well. We leave out Abom and Thing, as they are really a different direction than we are looking to go. I include Armor to protect Misty Knight and Sunspot - they are huge value engines, and we really do not want to lose them.
From here, it gets a little hazy to me. This could end up in a Thanos deck, still using Lockjaw to try to cycle (we're quite happy to cycle this Wasp). Getting extra mana is great for the deck. That encourages us to use Infinaut as a good Lockjaw pull. This ends with something looking like this:
1 card unaccounted for still. As with above, I would lean towards some form of a good card, but I honestly do not know what that is in this deck. Aero gets a little worse without Wave (but is still entirely playable). Magneto is perhaps a great option to add as he's a solid Lockjaw pull and interacts with our opponent. Magik is a solid consideration for the turn-6 skip into She-Hulk + Infinaut on turn7. Shocker of course could also be played. But we are now playing Thanos again, so take it with a grain of salt...of course, we won't even have access to this deck until the end of May, so perhaps Thanos will be out of sight and out of mind at that point in time!