Luke: Thor has arrived!
Phil: For some of us.
Luke: Calm thyself, Sir Phillip, for soon all will have Thor, and it shall be glorious!
Phil: Not soon enough.
Luke: But alas, there is troubling times for those of us who have seen into this glorious pack of cards, and it bodes… strangely.
Phil: Doctor Strange isn’t coming out for-
Luke: Silence! That joke was cheap and easy.
Phil: Then maybe you shouldn’t have written it.
Luke: … Regardless! Thor has many powerful cards up his sleeve, providing helpful effects beyond our wildest dreams, and yet… one card stands out from the rest as unsettling. I, of course, speak of…
Phil: Dude, it’s in the title-
Luke: Defender of the Nine Realms!!!
Luke: Defender of the Nine Realms is a 0-cost Hero action card that states that, when played, the player must discard cards from the enemy deck until a minion is drawn. That card is then engaged with them and 3 threat is removed from a scheme.
Phil: Okaaaaaaaaaaaay, why the $#@& would I want to voluntarily add a minion to the board?
Luke: Well, this also triggers Thor’s ability; the first time a minion engages with him each phase, he draws 2 cards.
Phil: Sure, but some of these minions can be brutal. Scorpion, the Masters of Evil goons, and just about any archnemesis, especially Thor’s.
Luke: Yeah, Loki is a bit of a dick.
Phil: It just seems like a hefty-
Luke: While the card is free to play, there are some large costs that must be taken into account when playing this card. For one, the minion being put into play. Unless you’re playing an Aggression Thor deck, which, if you play solo most often like me, this isn’t really a great option, chances are more minions being on the board isn’t incredibly helpful to you.
Phil: Most people are saying Thor is a rather hard character to play solo in general.
Luke: And beyond that, you’re often discarding a good portion of the villain encounter deck to even find a minion to face. What’s more, if no minions are left in the deck when played, not only do you deck out, but you also don’t get the threat removal because the card cost isn’t fully paid.
Phil: Now that’s ludicrous.
Luke: It’s a hard pill to swallow, and it means you’ll have to constantly be counting cards to see just how many minions are left in play, what are the chances that there’s one in the next couple of cards, is it worth putting so-and-so into play for the extra 2 cards.
Phil: But surely there are some-
Luke: Thor has a fairly low hand-size compared to most characters, meaning the extra card draw can be rather helpful and lead to some big swings.
Phil: But those extra actions will need to be used getting rid of whatever minion you brought into play.
Luke: Not necessarily. Hammer Throw, if saved for an occasion like this, can remove the minion while also dealing damage to the villain, meaning you can often deal 4 or 5 damage to the villain while also taking down your new adversary.
Phil: And for those times when you don’t have that option?
Luke: While it’s not the most optimal play, Lightning Strike can deal damage to all enemies simultaneously, assuming you have the energy to burn, allowing you to wipe the board if need be.
Phil: Most area-of-effect cards seem to not be terribly useful or cost-effective most of the time.
Luke: Not for solo play at least.
Additionally, this is the only way Thor can remove threat with his core 15 cards beyond using his base thwart of 1.
Phil: So, is Defender of the Nine Realms really worth it?
Luke: Ah, not so fast. You seem to be forgetting one of the most important factors to consider.
How Many Minions Are There?
Luke: On average, villain decks contain between 2 and 7 minions, the exception being Mutagen Formula with a whopping 12, and modular sets introduce between 0 and 4. This means, assuming the archnemesis doesn’t get introduced to the fray, players can encounter between 2 and 16 minions in a given deck. While this partially informs Thor’s core ability, it more importantly informs whether Defender of the Nine Realms is a helpful play in a given encounter.
Phil: On top of that, you have to consider the scale of these enemies that you’re facing. Dealing with MODOK, for instance, is a way bigger bear than dealing with a few thugs or goons.
Luke: Additionally, how minions come into play is important. Ultron technically has tons of little bots that’ll be giving Thor cards left and right, sure, but only 2 minions can be found in the villain deck, meaning Defender of the Nine Realms is fairly useless here. Similarly, Wrecking Crew has 8 minions, but spread across 4 villain decks, with only 2 in each deck.
Phil: So, what’s the verdict?
Luke: Defender of the Nine Realms is a mixed bag, and largely informed by the scenario you’re going against. At best, you have the cards you need to remove the minions in hand and get some free card draw out of it. At worst, you get a free acceleration token with no benefit whatsoever.
Phil: This shouldn’t happen if you’re paying attention, but it also requires you to focus on card counts more than any other character yet.
Luke: It’s a necessary evil to ensure Thor is getting minions to engage with him and have some threat removal, sure, but it’s far from a perfect solution, and one that I will likely use sparingly and only when I absolutely need some threat gone ASAP.
Phil: But I’m sure there are those of you out there who disagree with us, so feel free to-
Audience: *click-clacking of millions of keyboards*
Luke: I think they get the idea. Thanks so much for reading as always, and we’ll see you next week!