Sandman: Is This the New Budget Hero?
The balance changes went for the head and severely limited what is, in my opinion, the best Series 3 card: Aero. They may have missed Shuri, but they have definitely opened up the meta in interesting ways, and more decks are now able to be played.
There is lots of fun to be had right now. You can bounce back cards for big Turn 6 plays, you can use Sera to play fun combinations that reduce the power of your opponents cards, and you can play Wave into Doctor Doom and She-Hulk. The problem is how inaccessible some of these strategies can be. Previously, cards like Leader and Leech have insured strong strategies are always accessible, but with the token shop rework and the balance changes we have seen, the ways to counter some of these strategies can feel limited.
But there’s one card that ruins all this fun. It’s accessible for most players and it can be played in plenty of different shells is… Sandman.
This deck aims to do one thing and one thing only: ruin your opponent’s game plan by limiting them to one card a turn. We do this while having a strong synergistic plan that can push more power than your opponent with their single card. We do this by ramping with Electro into a Turn 4 Sandman. We can then play a 6-drop on Turn 5 and on Turn 6. The preference is to play Doctor Doom into Odin, but we can use plenty of combinations of cards. We then get overpower our opponents plays since we are going wide and putting down big cards.
You may point out this build has four Series 3 cards, and this is, of course, a limitation. Wave and She-Hulk are not mandatory for the deck. In fact, the core of the deck is really only:
Yes, Doctor Doom is not core. But I would highly recommend him as versions without have a much lower ceiling. This version is built to have a flexible finish thanks to Wave (which I will discuss below), but if you’re looking to replace Wave, She-Hulk, and Doctor Doom consider these packages:
- White Tiger, Lizard, Devil Dinosaur
- Jubilee, Lizard, The Infinaut
- Jubilee, White Tiger, The Infinaut
All these combine well with the Electro and Sandman Package and help to create a solid, flexible deck.
One card which may seem out of place here is Heimdall. This is the flex spot in the deck, and I will discuss alternatives later. I will also discuss the argument for including this card further below.
The early game is simple. You want to play Sunspot, Ebony Maw, and Armor. We just play Ebony Maw, preferably in the left lane. Armor can be changed to other cards like Lizard. The goal is high stats for low energy, and we can add to the lane with the rest of the deck later.
To Wave or not to Wave?
Wave is the card that makes this deck more flexible than it seems. We need to be assessing our hand on Turn 3 in order to use this Swiss Army Knife properly and increase our win rate with the deck. The basic thought process is as follows:
- Do I have Electro in hand? If yes – do I have Sandman for Turn 4? If yes, play Electro.
- Additionally, play Electro if you have an effective combination for Turns 4 through 6. Doctor Doom, Odin, and Aero can make an effective combination and are a solid indication.
- If o, do I have Wave in hand? If yes, what can I play on Turn 4 after Wave? If it’s Doctor Doom, play Wave.
- If no, play for post Wave. Hold Wave and play Wave on Turn 4 or 5.
- Play her on Turn 4 if you can now follow up with Turn 5 Doctor Doom. If you’re playing against a flood deck, you can also play Wave if your early game has been good and you can retrigger with Odin. This will be an effective Sandman over Turns 5 and 6 while setting up similar combinations.
- If you have She-Hulk and Wave – play Wave on Turn 5 into a Turn 6 She-Hulk + 6-cost card.
Heimdall has an amazing synergy here with Ebony Maw. If we play Ebony Maw on the left, Heimdall shifts more cards behind the Ebony Maw.
However, the reason for this inclusion is the surprise factor. You will find that not many people play around all your power moving to the left. Heimdall also adds eight power to the lane where he is played. If you Wave on Turn 5 and play Heimdall and She-Hulk, you can do some neat combinations that no one will be expecting.
One combination which is not as apparent is Doctor Doom on Turn 5 into Heimdall. If we do this correctly, we push an extra 5 into the left lane while adding eight power elsewhere. As you play with this card more in lists like this, you will continue to find ways to surprise your opponents and potentially increase your cube rate.
If we are not running Heimdall, we can either go for more synergy or insert a tech card.
We can reactivate White Tiger and Jubilee for extra value, so they are great options. They both also play well after Electro if you don’t draw Sandman. Devil Dinosaur is good because your hand size is usually not changing once you play Sandman or Electro, and it can easily be 11 or 13 power for five energy.
Shang-Chi helps against the Red Skull strategies. Killmonger helps against the flood strategies. Simple.
The current meta, outside of one deck, seems to be moving towards playing multiple card and playing them as efficiently as possible. This environment could be a place for Sandman to thrive, and my initial testing this week seems to indicate that it could be time for Sandman to rise.
Good luck, Have Fun, and Stay Safe!
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