Luke: Welcome to Signature Moves, a sub-series for Marvel Champs Monday for those slower weeks when I have the chance to look at some of the more thematic elements of a hero and what makes them tick.
The basic premise is that each article will take a deeper look at 1 card from a hero’s core set, explaining how and why that card defines that character mechanically and thematically, as well as how it makes them unique.
Phil: Any particular reason why we’re starting with Black Panther?
Luke: Honestly? He’s first alphabetically.
Phil: Fair enough. It also helps that he’s in the core set so he’s also first chronologically. I’m just curious as to how you’re going to fill up this entire article with thoughts on Wakanda Forever!.
Luke: … I’m sorry, what?
Phil: Come on, don’t play dumb, of course Black Panther’s signature move is-
Luke: Ancestral Knowledge.
Luke: In my mind, Ancestral Knowledge perfectly represents who Black Panther is as a character, even if it may not be a card you use every game.
Above all else, T’Challa is a king, one who needs to serve the greater good of his kingdom before himself or anyone else. He is tied to his homeland in an inextricable way and takes on the hardships and burdens his land does. And in this way, he is tied down by centuries of tradition. He comes from a great, winding line of kings, unified in their want for a better tomorrow for their people.
Phil: A point that is well articulated in the comics as well as on the big screen.
Luke: In this way, T’Challa is known to call on his ancestors for advice in times of particular strife or hardship. In other words, he looks to tradition to inform how he moves forward.
Phil: And this card well captures that moment. The image in question is pulled from New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman, issue 18, in which, when faced with the decision of destroying a world filled with countless lives, T’Challa is forced to question the moral implications of wiping out civilizations in an effort to protect Wakanda for another day.
Luke: Even without that knowledge, though, this image has power in how well this is communicated through its mechanics.
Ancestral Knowledge allows you to pull 3 unique cards from your discard pile and shuffle them back into your deck. You are literally pulling from the cards you’ve already used in hopes of using them again, turning to your past actions for advice as to what to do next.
Phil: It all ties together quite neatly, but how does this reflect on the rest of T’Challa’s deck?
Luke: Most of Black Panther’s cards look to build up his core tableau of options. We’ve got the 4 key upgrades, the 5 iterations of Wakanda Forever! to activate them, 3 copies of Vibranium to help pay for it all, and Shuri and the Golden City, who assist in digging for your upgrades. Everything is working towards that core set of traditions, like a moral code being followed, and once everything is put together, you’ve got a beautiful machine that sings.
Phil: But you don’t have to build that tableau to succeed with Black Panther.
Luke: That’s the funny thing about tradition; sometimes, you need to follow it to find success, whereas other times, it’s better to form your own path. Blind reliance on one way of doing things is never the answer, a fact that T’Challa knows. And that’s shown by his flexibility when it comes to deck-building; the guy can basically take on any Aspect he wants. And no matter how you end up playing it, Ancestral Knowledge will always be there to help you focus on whatever cards you need that game.
Phil: Whereas Wakanda Forever! will only ever be good for one, focused method of playing. And while getting permanent upgrades into play is always nice, sometimes it’s not the right answer, depending on the board state.
So, to sum up; Black Panther is, at his core, an extension of his people and nation, and thus his signature card, Ancestral Knowledge, is the traditions and values held by his nation, pulling new options from the past to better fuel tomorrow.
Phil: Yeah, I can see how you might rationalize that. And honestly, I really dig the poetic nature of that perspective. But what do you all at home think? Do you agree with Luke’s assessment, or is there a better card to summarize Black Panther? Let us know down below!
Luke: Thanks again for reading, see ya’ll next time!