Resource Retrospective - Death
by Javelin Chimera
Welcome to the Resource Retrospective! In this series, I’d like to take a look at each of the resource symbols used in the Universal Fighting System and analyze some of the design philosophies and patterns that have manifested throughout the years. Along with this, we’ll take a look at a handful of powerful or popular cards that have represented these philosophies as well.
Just a bit of a disclaimer: the following is largely the opinion of the writer. By nature, UFS has a diverse system with a wide array of effects and strategies. With 99% of cards having at least 3 different resource symbols, you’ll see many of these themes spread across multiple symbols. What we’re going to take a look at are some of the more prevalent effects for each, both from the past and in today’s Standard format. So whether you’re a new player just starting their UFS journey, or a long-time veteran enjoying a trip through memory lane, thank you for joining me!
Today, we are going to be taking a look at Death-
Destruction - Finality
First, let’s take a look at some of the cards that are very specifically designed for this resource symbol to get some initial inklings into what Death might be all about:
A Dark End (Legality: Legacy) - Our Death Foundation of Power gives us a relatively strong ability for a 1 difficulty. Being a non-unique ability that can not only look at your opponent’s hand but also force a discard can really lock your opponent down, especially if you are able to easily generate momentum. Ultimately, Death comes across more as the secondary symbol for the discard mechanic, so this one isn’t too helpful with determining symbol identity.
Seal of Cessation (Legality: Legacy) - This is probably the most well-known and widely used Asset of Power during its time. None of the AoPs really had the best stats, but even at a 3 control, this card’s blanket cancellation meant it eventually received an errata to have the Unique keyword. Again, I’d argue that this card falls more into a style for which Death could be called a secondary symbol, maybe even tertiary, considering the full life of the game.
Deadly Embrace (Legality: Jasco Eternal) - Like many of the Attacks of Power, this one adheres very well to what we might call the symbol identities of Death. A static ability that forces your opponent to adjust or lose vitality directly, and an ability that forces some control over your opponent’s foundation base.
Death is a symbol that feels like it took some time to grow into the themes that we primarily see from it today. Some early power cards did establish a precedent for foundation destruction, though many of these examples also shared Evil. In time we saw more and more examples of staging area control that were mainly Death. Later on we start to see more and more examples of Death cards that seek to burn the opponent’s vitality directly, giving the Death symbol fun potential alternative way of taking down your foe. So let’s break down these themes and take a look at some classic examples.
Destroy the Foundation
Building up a staging area of foundations and assets is a key component of UFS, giving you the ability to more easily destroy your opponent as well as keep yourself alive. Being able to disrupt your opponent’s staging area can be extremely powerful, be it destroying cards, flipping them face down, sealing their abilities, or sending the cards back to your opponent’s hand.
Start Over (Legality: Legacy) - The OG reset button, few things will tilt an opponent who is sitting smugly behind their wall of gray cards than this. With the added bonus of not being restricted to your first form and not ending you turn, you can basically make it seem like you just took the first turn of the game. This action later saw a slightly more expensive second form in the card Begin Anew (Legality: Legacy).
Knight Breaker (Legality: Legacy) - As one of the earliest combo attacks, this one seems just slightly less impressive compared to most powerful combos today. Having the destruction ability be dependent on dealing damage isn’t ideal, but it also isn’t restricted to the combo. The combo ability also has plenty of high-damage attacks to draw from today, making it very possible to close out some games as needed as well.
Lost Memories (Legality: Legacy) - One of the original control pieces, I’m including this one in Death as opposed to Evil or Void because it not only cancels the effect, but also destroys the source, lending a more permanent form of control. Also just happens to be the original source of hilarity caused by mislabeled abilities (E? What were they thinking?! Hahaha…ha…yeah).
Cataclysmic Force (Legality: Jasco Eternal) - It doesn’t get much more straightforward than this one. Play a foundation, wait until you see something that’s going to screw with your game plan, then blow up CF as a form and take it out. Simple yet very useful.
The Hunt for Spiders and Dragons (Legality: Standard) - At some point in the Jasco era of UFS, flipping foundations face down in the staging area became a regular part of the game. With this, the idea of forcing one of your opponent’s foundations to flip gives you the control of removing its abilities without actually denying the opponent a resource. Hunt is probably one of the most infamous examples of being about to force a flip, providing plenty of value outside of that. Bonus points here for also having an ability that can burn an opponent’s vitality.
Drain the Life
In the vast majority of games of UFS, players will take turns playing attacks against each other to deal damage to their opponent’s vitality. But what if you don’t have to worry about whether your opponent blocks your attack, or reduces its damage to impotent amount? That’s what these abilities are all about, striking directly at the source to drain your opponent’s health.
Bang! (Legality: Standard) - This powerful action card in Standard is actually a double-whammy for Death abilities. One one hand, you can seal whatever you want in your opponent’s staging area for a turn, including characters. On the other, you can play it after an unblocked (or unblockable!) attack to tack on some unexpected life loss and grab an extra card.
Swing Kick* (Legality: Legacy) - This unassuming little attack provides some nice utility. A great low block and low difficulty means it’s almost always playable. A low attack zone means its tougher to block, and its free enhance means that on hit this little attack can make cause a 4 vitality swing all by itself. There are a number of Death attacks with similar effects, such as Bat Spin (Legality: Legacy) and Urban Shower (Legality: Standard).
From Hell (Legality: Standard) - This powerful attack from the Scorpion turbo deck really drives home the themes of the Death symbol. If not blocked, this attack not only lets you destroy any foundation, but also burns your opponent’s vitality equal to the control of the destroyed card. Losing a foundation and 4-5 vitality is nothing to sneeze at.
Demanding Submission (Legality: Standard) - Powerful, EX, Multiple, Stun, all useful skills that can sway a game and have a rating. Dropping one or two of this foundation into your staging area is usually enough to keep your opponent honest. Canceling the ability is great. Burning them for a few extra points on top of that is a nice little bonus.
Fueling Up (Legality: Standard) - In my opinion, this is one of the more powerful spam foundations in Standard today. Another instance of a cancel-and-burn effect, this one only flips as a cost and its cancel covers a remarkable number of abilities thanks to its wording.
There you have it, a short overview of some of the common themes you’ll see with the Death symbol in the Universal Fighting System. As a bonus, here are some notable characters that also fall into these themes:
Night Terror* (Legality: Legacy)
Zhao Daiyu** (Legality: Legacy)
Kazuya Mishima* (Legality: Legacy)
Napalm Man** (Legality: Standard)
Shadow Man* (Legality: Standard)
Let us know what your favorite flavorful Death cards are, and join us next time when we square up like a mountain and toss some fools with the next UFS resource symbol: Earth. Thank you for reading!