Cyclops is intriguing because while he does have a solid hero kit, most of his power comes from deck building. Cyclops can take X-Men allies from any aspect when deck building, and that opens him up to all sorts of combinations that other heroes can’t have. The more X-Men that release, the more his options deepen.
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It works well for his character. Yes, his Optic Blasts are a defining characteristic of Scott Summers’ Mutant powers. But his leadership abilities are what define his role in the X-Men.
That isn’t to say he isn’t formidable on his own. Cyclops also has a unique focus on tactic cards that makes him stand out, and his laser eyes shouldn’t be underestimated.
An Eye for Tactics
Cyclops’s hero kit features a ton of cards with the tactic keyword. His alter-ego ability allows him to search your deck for a tactic upgrade, and the neat thing is, it’s not limited to his own.
This offers Cyclops even more flexibility in both deck building and during gameplay. It’s also important to note that, for all intents and purposes, you’re going to start every game with Cyclops with a seven-card hand.
Cyclops and his tactic cards are interlinked. In order to use his Optic Blast, which is a nifty three damage for one resource. An enemy has to have an upgrade card attached to them. It’s a bit counter-intuitive to understand at first, but most of Cyclops’s tactics are attached to the enemy.
They are “upgrades” in name only, each one has an effect that’s usually bad for whoever they are attached to. Exploit Weakness, increases all damage taken by 1, for example, while Practiced Defense reduces the damage they deal by 1.
The uniqueness of his upgrade cards combined with the power of his Optic Blast makes Cyclops a thorn in the villain’s side. Especially if Cyclops manages to get his Ruby Quartz Visor into play which pays the cost for Optic Blast.
The nature of his tactic upgrades also makes him shine even more in multiplayer. Multiple players pummeling a villain while they have Exploit Weakness attached has a large impact on the team’s effectiveness. This is further demonstrated by his Field Commander Upgrade. Cyclops’s tactic upgrades have the temporary keyword, they go away at the end of the round.
Field Commander makes them permanent for minions. Believe it or not, that’s the least important part of the card. Field Commander forces Cyclops to go first every round, this matters in a big way. Remember, you can only have your fellow players perform actions on your turn. Most upgrades don’t have the “action” keyword, including Cyclops’s cards.
Since Field Commander makes Cyclops go first. It allows him to play cards like Exploit Weakness and Priority Target ahead of his team, allowing them to take advantage of their effects. It’s a clever card that further amplifies his role as a team leader, and it works really well.
Leader of the X-Men
Cyclops offers a lot of versatile utility with his tactics and Scott Summer’s ability to search for them. He can also put out heavy damage with his Optic Blast, which is further enhanced with Full Blast dealing 8 ADDITIONAL damage. Ricochet Beam can spread out some damage to two enemies or just thump a single one with six damage, assuming they have an upgrade attached.
Cyclops can be effective in a minion thrasher role as well, his Full Blast can destroy some of the toughest minions in the game. If he has Field Commander in play he can permanently weaken any that remain by placing Exploit Weakness on them.
He can even thwart while also retrieving tactics from his discard pile with Tactical Brilliance. But where Cyclops really shines is in his allies. It’s even reflected in his weakness, his lack of defensive options. Cyclops need allies to help protect him from damage.
The fact that Cyclops can have X-Men from any aspect in his deck can take his power level from that of an average hero to an exceptionally strong one. It can also bring him down. It all depends on how you build him, which is pretty interesting. The more X-Men content that is released, the more his deck-building strategy evolves.
You can slap Wolverine into a healing Protection deck, or stack him with upgrades with the Leadership aspect. You can play an Aggression deck Cyclops while covering him with a variety of X-Men allies full of utility. The options are limited only by what you can come up with and the X-Men keyword.
Much like Spider-Woman, the mere breaking of the deck-building rules adds so much to Cyclop’s potential and fun. However, of the characters breaking the deckbuilding rules I find Cyclops to be the most versatile, as his core mechanics don’t hold him back from specific playstyles. No matter how you build him, his tactic cards and Optic Blast will always be effective.
It should be of little surprise that a character focused on being a leader comes with a bunch of leadership cards, however, Cyclop’s unique deckbuilding rules mean the pack also comes with allies of various aspects.
On the leadership side, we have Beast, who allows you to search out an energy card. If your deck is packing double energies, it effectively makes Beast a two-cost card. But you can get pretty clever with existing cards such as Rapid Response for extra effectiveness.
On the aggression side, we have Dust, who attacks all minions in play. Imagine pairing her with some attack upgrade cards, and you have an ally capable of sweeping the entire board.
Rockslide is a beefy protection ally with retaliate, and a nasty 3 attack. Finally, we have Blindfold with some nifty encounter deck manipulation. Danger Room Training is a staple X-Men leadership card that buffs the attack thwart and HP of an X-Men. It pairs great with the likes of Wolverine and Rockslide.
Angel is fairly bland but is an X-Men with the aerial trait. Effective Leadership is a nifty energy card for playing allies with a nice buff. Gametime is going to be insane in decks focusing on beefing up allies, it has great synergy with the aforementioned Danger Room Training. Danger Room takes it a step further by allowing you to search out those training cards when you play an X-Men.
Cyclops has a team-up card with Phoenix called Psychic Rapport. Team-Ups are fun, and since Phoenix and Cyclops released together, it can be used straight away without counting on Cyclops’s Phoenix Ally card.
The pack includes alternative X-Men art energy cards, which I think is very cool. But I draw the line there. It also includes a reprint of Teamwork, with X-Men art. I know I criticized the lack of Guardians’ specific art in Galaxy’s Most Wanted, but the solution was not to reprint existing cards with new art. It causes confusion when going through your card sets to deck build.
Unfortunately, this is an ongoing design decision throughout the entire X-Men cycle, so it will be a common complaint from me.
One thing I love about all the new cards included with Cyclops isn’t just the fact that they are all great additions. But they also synergize so well with Cyclops and other cards in the pack and that’s great for showing off some of their potential.
Cyclops has a weird obligation. Half the time it has come into play, the player playing Cyclops was happy about it. His obligation, Lost Visor, forces you to search your hand, deck, and discard pile for the Ruby Quartz Visor and place it under the card. Additionally, while the obligation is in play, Cyclops can’t attack.
To remove it, you simply exhaust in alter-ego form…then you put the visor IN YOUR HAND. The thing is, you can’t lose your visor if you haven’t found it in the first place. If you don’t have your visor, or it’s in the discard pile, Lost Visor actually finds it for you instead. It’s incredibly weird. It was a running joke at my table, every time someone handed the Cyclops player the obligation, they were like “Sweet! Thanks for finding my visor!”
The rest of the Nemesis set can be brutal, specifically Gene Therapy in villain decks with powerful minions. Giving even the lowest minion a temporary +2 attack boost, overkill and piercing can be terrifying. Mister Sinister himself is fairly bland but has the tendency to stay on the field long enough to get Gene Therapy in which case he becomes a real threat.
The overall Nemesis set is solid, aside from the very strange way that Cyclops and his obligation interact.
Cyclops is a great hero, and the cards that come in his pack further expand the game in great ways, especially the X-Men side of it. I often criticize heroes that are too strong, and Cyclops can certainly pass that threshold, but since his power is so deck dependant there’s not much to be critical of. Many heroes can break with the right combo of cards, even traditionally underpowered ones such as Thor.
Putting deck building aside, Cyclops is a reliable hero because his kit is solid no matter which way you build him. That makes him fun to play since you don’t have to worry about breaking the game unless you go out of your way to do so, nor do you have to worry about not carrying your own weight and bringing down the team.
Cyclops also adheres to his theme quite well, and it’s not just his leadership qualities. Initially, I found it odd that Cyclops could only use his optic blast when an enemy has an upgrade attached. But it actually makes sense. One of the overarching themes of the X-Men is learning to live with and control power you never asked for.
Scott literally fires laser beams from his eyes. He has to wear special sunglasses or his visor to be able to open them at all. His optic blasts are incredibly destructive and dangerous.
Cyclops never uses his power haphazardly, doing so could harm those he cares about. He shoots when he knows he can hit his target. His tactic upgrades reflect those fleeting moments where he can safely unleash that power. It’s a clever implementation that works well mechanically, and I like it a lot.
Cyclops is definitely one of the better overall packs to release, where the vast majority of its contents are positive additions to the game. I’d expect nothing less from the leader of the X-Men, and I’m happy to see that’s the case.
Interested in the card holders I use in my photos? They are from InfinitionsTabletop on Etsy
- Cyclops is a great new hero with strengths and weaknesses
- Cyclops has great versatile deck-building options since he can use X-Men allies from any aspect
- Awesome new Aspect cards
- Cyclops’s hero kit captures his character’s theme remarkably well
- Cyclop’s Obligation card can be beneficial half the time and that’s really strange
- Some cards are reprinted with new art, which can make deckbuilding confusing when going through your collection