Resource Retrospective - Air
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 Air-
Intelligence - Deliberateness
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 Air might be all about:
Ideas on the Wind (Legality: Legacy) - Immediately we get hit with what we’ll see is one of the mainstays of the Air symbol in an ability that let’s us clear a card from our card pool. Straightforward one commit for one clear. The second ability on this foundation gives us a bit of momentum manipulation, though a fairly expensive one for what it does.
Seal of the Wind (Legality: Legacy) - With our Air Asset of Power, we get a simple ability that has our opponent ready one of our foundations. This also falls in line with one of the common Air abilities we’ll see.
Cyclone Zephyr (Legality: Jasco Eternal) - The Air Attack of Power gives us one of the stronger examples of readying foundations, with plenty of cost in other areas to try and balance it out.
Historically, the Air symbol has been fairly consistent with the flavor of abilities that it tends to have. As we see with the symbol specific cards above, clearing cards from your card pool and readying foundations are going to pop up on a number of juicy cards throughout the life of the game. Also, in an effect that the symbol largely shares with Chaos, momentum manipulation is going to be a part of the game plan in many cases as well. Another common effect with Air that we’ll notice is the ability to fairly easily manipulate the speed of attacks. So let’s break these down and look at some classic examples.
Card Pool Clearing
There’s something to be said even for a basic ability that clears a single card from your card pool during your turn. Early on in a turn, you’re giving yourself -1 progressive difficulty for everything you play afterwards. Use this to clear out action card or attack that has already resolved and you’re looking at maximum value. If you pull out something that effectively nukes your whole card pool and combine it with some card draw, you’re effectively getting an extra turn. Can’t be mad at that.
Ibis Minuet (Legality: Legacy) - One of the old popular options for clearing that card pool. A cost of 2 vitality might seem a little steep, until that clear facilitates winning the game. Bonus points for usability while committed, even if it’s not a choice in this case.
Ace Maneuver - (Legality: Standard) - Granted this attack doesn’t provide a card pool clearing effect in itself, but it certainly provides a heck of an incentive to clear as much as you can otherwise. Much of Spike support you’ll see in the Cowboy Bebop booster packs goes all in on this clearing strategy.
Having ready foundations in UFS is the lifeblood of playing cards, not only to bring the pain to your opponent but to defend yourself as well. Be it from passing control checks, playing abilities, or your opponent’s effects, your foundations are going to get committed. Being able to ready those foundations can be quite valuable.
Shooting Capoera (Legality: Legacy) - Free enhances are fun. Free enhances that can ready multiple foundations per turn are amazing. Get out a couple of these and you are going to annoy your opponent on both players’ turns.
Bridging the Races (Legality: Standard) - A spam foundation that commits for +1 speed and +1 damage with a control of 4 might be just a little under-powered relatively speaking. However, factor in its second ability with the amount of options for adding foundations directly to your staging area and the amount of Destroy costs on foundations, you’ll likely be seeing this card ready multiple times per game during the Combat Phase.
In UFS, momentum tends to be your fuel for stronger abilities. In fighting game terms, momentum is a lot like your super meter. One or two momentum can mean the difference between the end of the game or another turn. While much of the momentum generating effects find themselves on cards with both Air and Chaos, Air does have a few momentum controlling effects of its own.
One-Armed Manuevers (Legality: Legacy) - This is a powerhouse action card dealing with momentum. Many of the similar action cards before it generated 2 momentum for the user. With this one, you get the option to pump yourself up or hose your opponent, and potentially for more momentum than ever. This one was eventually errata’d to try and rein in its power: “F Make a control check: Add X cards from the top of any player’s deck to their momentum or discard X cards from any player’s momentum. X equals the control check divided by 2, rounded up, maximum 3.” (Heh, “Manuevers”)
Living with Determination (Legality: Jasco Eternal) - If you look at the cards designed by UFS Champ Andrew Olexa, one thing is certainly clear: Andrew likes him some Vega. Classic Vega is all about that momentum, so it’s no surprise that this foundation deals with it. In a period of time where snap momentum was much less generous, this foundation was a welcome source.
There are a couple of different ways to ensure damage gets pushed through in the game of UFS. The most traditional and basic way of doing this is getting that speed up as high as you can. On the flip side of this, being able to reduce the speed of your opponent’s attacks is going to ensure that you are more than capable of blocking and staying alive longer.
Schmetterling Fighting Performance Arts (Legality: Legacy) - Read that one again. For the “cost” of discarding a card from your card pool (bonus Air points), your attack is getting bonus speed. It’s not unusual to see +4 or +5 speed from this 2 difficulty foundation, which is not an insignificant bonus.
Dust in the Wind (Legality: Standard) - Granted that this control piece has the chance of being a dead foundation for you, the presence of it in your card pool can possibly ruin an opponent’s day. Turning a positive speed pump into a negative can be a significant swing. (Bonus downside, potentially giving away what’s in your hand by not being able to resist singing the song. True story.)
There you have it, a short overview of some of the common themes you’ll see with the Air symbol in the Universal Fighting System. As a bonus, here are some notable characters that also fall into these themes:
Vega** (Legality: Legacy)
Yun-Seong*** (Legality: Banned)
Luise** (Legality: Legacy)
Air Man* (Legality: Standard)
Spike** (Legality: Standard)
Let us know what your favorite flavorful Air cards are, and join us next time when we draw every card on the planet as we take a look at the next UFS resource symbol: All. Thank you for reading!