Jeepers Creepers:  How a Rules Clarification Helped Create a Dominant Defense – Part 1

To those of you who read my last issue and expected to see the cliffhanger resolved as to what it was that made the Jeepers Creepers defense dominant, I apologize. Life has a way of getting in the way of even some of our favorite past times, as it has been for me the last few months or so. But the wait is over! So without further ado, I present to you this next issue of Building a Better Mousetrap.

The year was 2011. Disciples had been released the previous summer, and Thaddeus and his pals were dominating the tournament scene in both T1 and T2. Once a player was able to get out 6 or more Disciples, which usually didn’t take long in a deck with tons of speed like Disciples were known for, there was often not much an opponent could do on defense as approximately half of the usable Evil Characters in the game could not stop him. And if Crown of Thorns was active, the number of ECs that could stop him effectively was even more limited.

Even if you did have an EC big enough, such as the always intimidating King of Tyrus, you would give Thaddeus initiative to play something nasty like Authority of Christ. So Thaddeus had a major impact on the game. What was little known at the time, however, was that he would change the way other cards were understood including the key to Jeepers Creepers.

For most of you who are familiar with most of the cards in the game you probably know that Jeepers Creepers centered around Creeping Deceiver, an EC from Disciples that most T1 players might often overlook. After all, his protect ability doesn’t help you very much in most cases, as you not only have all of your available Lost Souls in sites, but they all have to be N.T. (so no 2-liner, Exchanger, or Cannot be Prevented Lost Souls allowed) and there can only be 3 or fewer for his ability to work. However, T2 players would have immediately recognized his potential: with the Rescuer’s Choice rule allowing your opponent to only rescue one particular Lost Soul during an attack, and the fact that he is generic makes both of his abilities (the protect and the band) incredibly helpful.

So how does Thaddeus relate to this? Well, I promise I will get to that soon, but first I wanted to introduce the process for building the deck. In my early testing of the Creeping Deceiver defense there was a problem I noticed. While he was great for blocking big Heroes (even FBTN Heroes) or banding chains he was vulnerable to small Heroes. In the former case he could go in, protect the soul, lose the battle, then either get healed by Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing or recurred by Marketplace.

But against some of the more popular small Heroes like Susanna or James Son of Alphaeus, blocking with Creeping Deceiver almost always invited a ‘He is Risen!’, Reach of Desperation, or My Lord and My God to be played and it was understood that since those were Enhancements they could interrupt or negate the protect ability. The additional setup required to pilot the deck (having and drawing enough Sites, managing captured characters, Exchangers and Hopper Lost Souls, etc.) made this drawback against those popular small Heroes a serious stumbling block for building a tournament-level deck.

Now for the tie-in to Thaddeus. While it was understood by most players that an Enhancement could negate Creeping Deceivers’ protect ability, it was also understood by most players that Enhancements could not stop Thaddeus because characters are the ones that play Enhancements in Redemption so the effect of an Enhancement comes from a character. This was the way it always was for the very similar ability “immune”. However, not everyone understood Thaddeus’ ability that way which lead to a discussion of what it really meant to be protected from a character and if it really worked the same thing as immune.

So during that discussion I got to thinking: if Enhancements can’t stop Thaddeus because he is protected from characters then Enhancements shouldn’t be able to negate Creeping Deceiver since they are used by characters. This means that ‘He is Risen!’ could set aside Creeping Deceiver but his protect ability would still work for the rest of the battle. Same with My Lord and My God and Reach of Desperation. So once I was able to get a Creeper in battle, with all of my Lost Souls being N.T and in Sites, there was nothing my opponent could do.

With 5 copies of Creeping Deceiver (the 4-per deck max in T2 didn’t start until the next year), 5 copies of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, and 2x each of Marketplace and Golgotha for recursion it would take a long time to run out of blocks. As the discussion came to an end and it was determined that both Thaddeus and Creeping Deceiver worked as I outlined above, I got to work to put the deck together. So how did it turn out? Well, I guess to find out you’ll have to wait until the next issue…and I promise it will come well before May.

Next issue: Jeepers Creepers – How a Rules Clarification Helped Create a Dominant Defense – Part 2

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