Desperate Genius (Robertmaxfreeman's Guide to Writhe)

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Desperate Genius (Robertmaxfreeman's Guide to Writhe)

Lowest hit points in the game (aside from the individual "Sentinels"). Complete dependence on a single card from his deck. A base power either only used to retrieve that single card, or a variant that leaves attaining that card partially to chance.

Writhe can seem pretty intimidating to a new player, but while other characters have to live with randomness, Writhe's greatest strength is his certainty. Depending on which version you use, Writhe either has the certainty that he can always retrieve his shadow cloak, or the certainty that even without it, his allies will be protected. 

His backstory may start out villainous, but with an Oblivaeon shard, Writhe is now one of the best heroes in the game.

 

Overview:

Best Damage: Darkly Dreaming (Unnerving Target is a close second)

Best Defense: Shadow Cloak

Best Personal Support: Fight and Fade

Best Team Support: Cosmic Inventor Variant base power

Best Utility: Portable Dark Lab

Primary Damage Type: Infernal 

Secondary Damage Types: Melee, Psychic

 

General Strategy:

Very different, depending on which variant you use.

The stardard version of Writhe wants to ideally play an ongoing or equipment card first turn, and then use his base power to retrieve the shadow cloak and put it into play. From that moment on, his attack cards become far more effective, and his defenses are up. Any sub-optimal cards in hand are discarded to prevent damage done to him. Then, when needed most, the cloak can be sacrificed to give Writhe a devastating attack. 

Cosmic Inventor Writhe needs a turn or two to either find his cloak, or a card that will allow him to search his deck for it. During that time he's drawing a massive amount of cards, and either protecting himself or one of his teammates. Until the cloak reaches play, he'll still have plenty of useful utility cards, and small attacks to deal with pesky enemy targets. In the later turns, he'll be set up with the shadow cloak and a massive number of cards in hand. He'll be shrugging off most damage and making massive attacks of his own, while holding onto situational cards to bail his team out of sticky situations.

 

The Character Card:

Standard Writhe has 19 HP, the lowest in the game (aside from the individal "Sentinels"). His power puts his cloak directly into play, greatly enhancing his abilities. His power has no effect, however, if his cloak is already in play. Cosmic Inventor Writhe has a few more HP, at 22. His power not only allows him to draw 2 cards, but lets him defend one of the hero characters, preventing the first damage done to that hero each turn. It can also be used on himself. Combined with the shadow cloak, Writhe can protect himself (by discarding a card) and an ally at the same time.

 

Card Interactions/Combos in Own Deck:

It's very important to keep track of whether an attack card causes Writhe to damage a target, or the target to damage themself, or causes that target to damage other enemy targets. This is because the Shadow Cloak will only increase the damage if Writhe is directly inflicting it, not if he causes enemies to damage themselves/each other. Same goes for the damage bonus from Lurking Shadows.

Virtually every card in Writhe's deck interacts with his Shadow Cloak in some way. It buffs the damage of attack cards like Darkly Dreaming, and any card that allows you to draw more cards boosts your cloak's ability to discard cards to prevent damage. Obviously, many of the cards also have an extra effect if the cloak is either in play, or is sacrificed as part of the card's effect. 

Fight and Fade not only does damage and get you the Shadow Cloak, but you can play a card, often allowing you to immediately sacrifice the shadow cloak. When using the standard 19 HP Writhe you can literally spend your turn doing damage, getting the cloak, destroying the cloak to get a huge effect, and then use your power to put the cloak right back into play again. Don't be afraid to destroy that cloak!

I get so much joy when I use Portable Dark Lab (sacrificing it to play one of them in addition to drawing one) and then next turn play Somber Tinker to draw a card, put the Portable Dark Lab back into play, and then use it to reveal three more cards, one to draw and one to put on the bottom of my deck, with the option to sacrifice the portable dark lab again.

Lies of the Shadows is an excellent defense card for Writhe if you're using his standard 19 HP form, but won't see as much use if using Cosmic Inventor variant. Regardless of your form, it becomes amazingly useful when facing Oblivaeon. It's always fun to redirect 20 irreducible damage away from a hero, and either onto a Scion, or right back in Oblivaeon's face (yes, I know it won't actually do damage to him, but it's still a lot of fun. Like a pie to the face).

An important feature of the card Unnerving Target is your ability to kill off enemy targets that target more than one hero, interrupting the rest of their attack. For example, let's say you have Unnerving Target in play and an enemy with 2 hp left does '2 damage to all hero targets'. You have Writhe get hit first, and you take the damage. Unnerving target reacts, and allows you to kill the enemy, and no further heroes are damaged. This goes for all cards in Sentinels that redirect or retaliate against enemy damage, but Unnerving Target is one of the most useful of them. You can also use the shadow cloak or his Cosmic Inventor power to help cherry pick which damage he first takes each turn, giving this card even more flexibility.

When using Writhe's standard 19 HP form, Erratic Form combos really well with Cloak Projector, Concealed Assailant, and Lies of Shadows. You'll be destroying your own Shadow Cloak often, only to reclaim it again the next time you use a power. Erratic Form will net you a lot of cards this way, and even during turns the Shadow Cloak stays intact, you'll be able to discard & draw to fish through your deck faster.

 

ALLY/ENEMY COMBOS

Against foes that destroy H number of equipment, standard Writhe can help by always allowing his shadow cloak to be one of the equipments destroyed, since he can bring it back into play almost effortlessly.

Against foes that force cards to be discarded, Cosmic Inventor Writhe can help their team by making several of the discards, as his power fills his hand very quickly.

La Commadora's (standard 29 HP) power allows her to put cards from the any hero's trash under the top card of their deck. Basic Writhe, and just about any hero, can make very good use of this ability, but Cosmic Inventor Writhe gets a much bigger boost, because it allows him to sacrifice the shadow cloak, and still put it back into play quickly.

Prime Warden's Fanatic, Lifeline, Nightmist and other heroes that deal themselves a large amount of damage, can get a lot of help from Writhe's Lies of the Shadows, which allows him to redirect damage inflicted on a hero to any other target. It's especially useful with standard Writhe, who can retrieve his cloak immediately afterwards. They can also be helped by Cloak Projector, as long as they don't mind doing less damage for a turn.

Prime Warden's Fanatic, America's Greatest Legacy, Extreme Prime Wardens Argent Adept, and any hero that allows their allies to use powers out of turn, is a huge boost for Cosmic Inventor Writhe. Keep using his base power, and not only will he have a ton of cards, but by the time the villain & environment turns come around, half the heroes or more will be immune to the first damage they receive each turn!

Completionist Guise can let you start the game as standard Writhe, fetch the shadow cloak, and THEN switch to Cosmic Inventor Writhe. This can be a huge help! (Also, not a combo, but I thought it was funny that Guise can use Lemme See That to 'borrow' Writhe's Shadow Cloak. Or, even borrow the Grasping Shadow Cloth, destroy Writhe's Shadow Cloak, prevent the villain/environment from playing cards from their deck, and then shuffle the Grasping Shadow Cloth into GUISE'S deck.)

Cosmic Inventor Writhe's power gets even more amazing when coupled with Legacy's card Lead from the Front. Make Legacy immune to the first damage he receives each turn, and have him redirect damage from other players to himself. This gives Writhe's power more versatility. Also works with other heroes that have 'redirect damage to themself' cards and powers.

Skyscraper's Micro Assembler works amazing in Writhe's hands! Even if you don't need to find the Shadow Cloak, he has tons of great equipment to fetch. In fact, if you use it to fetch his Grasping Shadow Cloth, you can prevent the villain from playing cards every 2-3 turns. You just need time to get the Shadow cloak and get it into play before playing the shadow cloth. However, with a hero in the team that can allow Writhe to use a second power (America's Greatest Legacy, etc), you can first fetch the shadow cloak on Writhe's turn, and THEN fetch the Grasping Shadow Cloth when the other hero allows you to. The combo effectively prevents the villains from ever playing a card from their deck again!

 

MATCHUPS

I'm only going to focus on the most difficult bosses and environments, as most can be played against with a general strategy and do just fine. As with all equipment characters, and villains with a 'destroy H (or all) Hero equipment cards' is bad, but Writhe has a lot of ways to reclaim his equipment from the trash, so he doesn't suffer quite as much as many other heroes.

Miss Information. Writhe hates losing his stuff, and Miss information is all about taking away hero's stuff. Still, he recovers a bit better either by his standard form reclaiming his shadow cloak, or his Cosmic Inventor variant refilling his hand with resources. Watch out for Isolated Hero when using his Cosmic Inventor variant, as it'll keep you from protecting your allies. The good news is Writhe's damage prevention will be of great help when dealing with her, but perhaps more so with his Cosmic Inventor variant, who prepares for future turns better than his standard version.

Progeny. This one can be a tough matchup for either version of Writhe. It really depends what Scion cards come out. Progeny's first form (and damage from most of his cards) damages everyone, limiting the effectiveness of Writhe's damage prevention. Progeny's second form is designed to single out and incapacitate the hero with the lowest HP. In other words, 'you'. Writhe can still do well, but he either has to go all-aggro with his standard version, to help whittle down Progeny's hp as quickly as possible, or go all defense/support as Cosmic Inventor, focusing on protecting your allies, or resign yourself to being Progeny's punching bag, and just try to last as long as possible, to give your team the time it needs to win. Also, as with all the self-healing villains, Umbral Siphon can be a very big help.

Villains/Vengeance 5. Admittedly, these are the types of Sentinels games I've played the least, but Writhe should do very well during these games, as not only are there more villain targets for his 'attack all villain targets' one-shots and powers, but the villain turn is divided into 3-5 turns, making Writhe's 'prevent the first damage done to himself/hero each turn' effects REALLY powerful. Of course, certain villains are stronger/weaker against Writhe, but there's so many, I think it's safe to just say Writhe is a strong choice.

La Capitan: I don't normally consider La Capitan one of the hardest villains (she isn't easy either, she's medium-hard), but as Powerhound 2000 pointed out, she can be a major problem for Writhe:

"I ran into a situation that Writhe has trouble surviving long and it’s against La Capitan.   If you aren’t playing the Sentinels he is the target of lowest health so a combination of Battle Forged, Final Breath, and Captain’s Orders put him down 8-13 health before he gets a turn.   Hopefully you can take care of most of it before the next villain turn otherwise it’s a short game for Writhe." 

Ouch! That's a really bad start for Writhe, and I really can't see anything you can do in this case. Hopefully someone can deal with Captain's Orders, but it's unlikely that you and your teammates will be able to deal with both Battle Forged and Final Breath in one turn. Hope someone can prevent damage, or this fight's already over for Writhe. So against La Capitan, Writhe may not be the best choice (unless the Sentinels are also being played).

The Matriarch: Writhe is actually a strong choice against the Matriarch. He'll have a turn to get his shadow cloak into play, which will prevent a lot of the damage she does. However, his Cosmic Inventor variant is definitely an inferior choice in this matchup. You'll want the shadow cloak right away, and the Cosmic Inventor damage prevention power isn't going to be as significant, as the Matriarch does her damage in small doses. As with all equipment based characters, Muninn will ruin his day, so watch out for him.

Infinitor: Writhe does pretty good here. Lambent Reaper is all he needs to worry about, and if he has the shadow cloak in play, he should be fine. It can be a tougher fight for his Cosmic Inventor variant, as he does less damage, and is more likely to become a target of Crushing Cage. Your teammates will still appreciate the damage prevention though, so with a well rounded team, either version of Writhe works. 

Dreamer: a tough fight for any hero, but Writhe seems to weather it well. About 4 cards of his are effectively unplayable, as they would damage the Dreamer, but again, the same goes for most heroes. Writhe is a good choice when fighting the Dreamer.

Iron Legacy: With only a little bit of ongoing card destruction and deck control, and potentially a lot of damage received before Writhe gets to play his cloak, means Writhe may not be the best choice for this fight. Then again, it's a very tough fight for any hero. His Cosmic Inventor form will give some much needed protection to the heroes, and his main form will deflect a lot when the shadow cloak comes out, but the obscene amount of damage potentially taken on turn one probably means a hero with hp in the high 20's and low 30's is a better choice, I'd say. 

Chairman: Writhe's cloak and/or Cosmic Inventor power are great when dealing with the 'retalitory' attacks of the Chairman and Operative. Also, if you can get it out, Umbral Siphon will counteract the Chairman and Operative's self-healing. Enforcers can be a problem for Writhe if not dealt with quickly, and Informants can be a pain, since neither of Writhe's base power options do damage. Still, the damage prevention, combined with shutting down villain healing, make Writhe a good choice for the fight. Just focus on keeping your team alive first.

Oblivaeon: Writhe is a STRONG choice, but you might not want to use him immediately. With only 2 variants to choose from, Writhe does better coming in a little later, as a clutch player. Unlike the core heroes, that have 4-5 variants each, if Writhe is incapacitated twice, there's no way to play him again. The best time to use him is when people can target Oblivaeon directly, during his second and third form. Writhe's damage prevention and redirection will be amazingly useful mid-late game. Just make sure he lasts until that point.

(to be continued)

 

 


"It's all chaos. Be kind."

Edited by: robertmaxfreeman on Sep 11 2018 - 10:55am
Powerhound_2000
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I realize you are still midway through writing this but I’d argue Fight and Fade is a better personal support.  It gets the Shadow Cloak in play and then lets you play any card from allowing you to take immediate advantage of cards which have you destroy the Shadow Cloak for an extra affect.   Schiamancy is good but the card play is limited to equipment or ongoing cards then it pulls out the Shadow Cloak.  


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robertmaxfreeman
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Doh! I meant Fight and Fade. I got the two cards mixed up. blush

Thanks for the heads up!

 


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robertmaxfreeman
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(updated original post)


"It's all chaos. Be kind."

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You can edit your original post and put everything there.   


Crush your enemies, drive them before you, and laminate their women! - Guise, Prime Wardens #31

 
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I really really enjoy playing Writhe, I think he's brilliant :D. I unexpectedly found a cool little combo with him a while back - the Shadow Cloak was already out and in my Play phase I played Sciamachy, which let me play an ongoing or equipment card as the Cloak was out, so I played Grasping Shadow Cloth, destroying the Shadow Cloak to prevent villain card plays. Then used my power to get the Cloak straight back out again. Muahahahaha... >:)


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Ameena wrote:

I really really enjoy playing Writhe, I think he's brilliant :D. I unexpectedly found a cool little combo with him a while back - the Shadow Cloak was already out and in my Play phase I played Sciamachy, which let me play an ongoing or equipment card as the Cloak was out, so I played Grasping Shadow Cloth, destroying the Shadow Cloak to prevent villain card plays. Then used my power to get the Cloak straight back out again. Muahahahaha... >:)

Sciamachy would actually put the cloak back into play before you even use your power!  Because the "play an ongoing or equipment" effect happens before you put the shadow cloak into play, it would be destroyed and brought back all in the play of that one card.  Leaving you to use a power for damage reduction or dealing damage from one of your other equipment!


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Writhe has been my absolute favorite hero since his first playtesting version.  I love the concept of a low HP tank who is just so survivable because he cant be hit.  Umbral Siphon is probably my favorite card for how it shuts down Spike - my least favorite deck to play, but also is great against Progeny and Iron Legacy.

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Lies of the Shadows is an excellent defense card for Writhe if you're using his standard 19 HP form, but won't see as much use if using Cosmic Inventor variant. Regardless of your form, it becomes amazingly useful when facing Oblivaeon. It's always fun to redirect 20 irreducible damage away from a hero, and either onto a Scion, or right back in Oblivaeon's face.

Feel I should point out that redirecting it to Oblivaeon doesn’t do much. Oblivaeon is immune to his own damage in all phases. It is indeed spectacular for murdering Scions though. Once used it and an Impending Doom to obliterate [Redacted].

Also a bit surprised the Umbral Siphon doesn’t get touched on. That thing’s completely game changing when it’s relevant. It makes it actually practical to kill True Shot, take down Spite before he flips, disables Final Evolution, Scion of Frost, and even when none of those nuisances are around is a power to hit for at least 4 damage if you have the Cloak out.

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Also a bit surprised the Umbral Siphon doesn’t get touched on. That thing’s completely game changing when it’s relevant. It makes it actually practical to kill True Shot, take down Spite before he flips, disables Final Evolution, Scion of Frost, and even when none of those nuisances are around is a power to hit for at least 4 damage if you have the Cloak out.

It's certainly a game changer. It didn't make the 'best cards' list because it's very situational. Against some villains it'll just be okay, but against Spite, Chairman, or Iron Legacy, it'll make Writhe the MVP.

 


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Ohh yes, now you mention it, yes, I did put the Cloak back via Sciamachy, because it left my power free to use the Umbral Siphon for 2+2 on whomever it was we were fighting :D.

Also, I think Writhe has my favourite power set from a thematic point of view - creepy deadly shadows that are reaching out, coming for you, to murder you horribly and drain out your soul and all that. Great stuff >:D.


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robertmaxfreeman wrote:
It's certainly a game changer. It didn't make the 'best cards' list because it's very situational. Against some villains it'll just be okay, but against Spite, Chairman, or Iron Legacy, it'll make Writhe the MVP.
Yes, but it seems odd to go completely without mention in the guide when it’s usually his best damaging power if he’s not breaking the cloak for Concealed Assailant. Especially in the matchups section.
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I ran into a situation that Writhe has trouble surviving long and it’s against La Capitan.   If you aren’t playing the Sentinels he is the target of lowest health so a combination of Battle Forged, Final Breath, and Captain’s Orders put him down 8-13 health before he gets a turn.   Hopefully you can take care of most of it before the next villain turn otherwise it’s a short game for Writhe. 


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Powerhound_2000 wrote:

I ran into a situation that Writhe has trouble surviving long and it’s against La Capitan.   If you aren’t playing the Sentinels he is the target of lowest health so a combination of Battle Forged, Final Breath, and Captain’s Orders put him down 8-13 health before he gets a turn.   Hopefully you can take care of most of it before the next villain turn otherwise it’s a short game for Writhe. 

OUCH!

I added this directly to the guide. I hadn't had this experience yet, but I can see how punishing La Capitan can be to Writhe. Thank you for pointing this out.


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Just played a game against Progeny with Writhe/Lifeline/Luminary/Harpy, and I have to say that Writhe was an excellent contributor to the team! There were a couple things really working for us:

  • Progeny's first Scion was Frost, and Writhe got an Umbral Siphon early on to make that card a total non-factor in the game. (While doing at least 4 damage to Progeny, not bad for a single power use!)
  • Yes, Writhe has many cards that do multi-target damage, but those simply became discards to fuel the Shadow Cloak's damage prevention.
  • Speaking of the Shadow Cloak's damage prevention, it can also counter the Scion of Flame and Time of Tribulations - because the amount of damage is irrelevant if you get to just prevent it all.
  • We were in Champion Studios, and Writhe and Luminary became Love Interests. (Obviously, as the two of them are the maddest of mad scientists in the game!) The extra DR goes a long way to making the Shadow Cloak even more effective against Progeny. Often, Writhe would simply take no damage during a Progeny round: reduce a first instance to a small number (Luminary has Disposable Defenders!) and prevent any second instance. You don't have to be in Champion Stuidios to get this benefit - a little Counterpoint Bulwark would help Writhe out here.
  • Grasping Shadow-Cloth can shut down the Villian deck. That stops Progeny in its tracks no matter what Scions it has in play.
  • Finally, the teamup with Lifeline meant that Writhe (with his DR) did not remain lowest HP for long. In fact, when Progeny flipped over, it was to burn down Lifeline and ignore Progeny. I've seen this is other games, too: Writhe starts as lowest HP, but he may end the game in the middle or highest of all the heroes.
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Trajector wrote:

Just played a game against Progeny with Writhe/Lifeline/Luminary/Harpy, and I have to say that Writhe was an excellent contributor to the team! There were a couple things really working for us:

Progeny's first Scion was Frost, and Writhe got an Umbral Siphon early on to make that card a total non-factor in the game. (While doing at least 4 damage to Progeny, not bad for a single power use!)

Yes, Writhe has many cards that do multi-target damage, but those simply became discards to fuel the Shadow Cloak's damage prevention.

Speaking of the Shadow Cloak's damage prevention, it can also counter the Scion of Flame and Time of Tribulations - because the amount of damage is irrelevant if you get to just prevent it all.

We were in Champion Studios, and Writhe and Luminary became Love Interests. (Obviously, as the two of them are the maddest of mad scientists in the game!) The extra DR goes a long way to making the Shadow Cloak even more effective against Progeny. Often, Writhe would simply take no damage during a Progeny round: reduce a first instance to a small number (Luminary has Disposable Defenders!) and prevent any second instance. You don't have to be in Champion Stuidios to get this benefit - a little Counterpoint Bulwark would help Writhe out here.

Grasping Shadow-Cloth can shut down the Villian deck. That stops Progeny in its tracks no matter what Scions it has in play.

Finally, the teamup with Lifeline meant that Writhe (with his DR) did not remain lowest HP for long. In fact, when Progeny flipped over, it was to burn down Lifeline and ignore Progeny. I've seen this is other games, too: Writhe starts as lowest HP, but he may end the game in the middle or highest of all the heroes.

 

Nice to know you had more success against Progeny then I have with Writhe. Looking back, I was by far the lowest HP in our team, and Progeny got out Scion of flame. It didn't take long for for me to drop to low hp, and then Progeny was flipped and I was incapacitated quick. It's nice to know that this was just a bad game, and not necessarily a trend. I'll have to play him again against Progeny and see what happens.

Grasping Shadow-Cloth only works for 1 turn, then it's shuffled back in your deck along with your trash. Skyscraper's micro-assembler will let him search his deck for it, creating a great combo, but otherwise it's a 1 turn solution only.

Writhe/Luminary? I'll ship it. :-)


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Writhe can have some see some starts which can hurt him quite a bit before he gets a turn but typically it’s manageable and I’ve often found he is one of the last heroes standing if things have gone south.  


Crush your enemies, drive them before you, and laminate their women! - Guise, Prime Wardens #31

 
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Agreed - I frequently end games with Writhe only having lost five or six hitpoints, if that. In one game I had fairly recently he took no damage for the entire game! I think we were agasint the Ennead but I may be wrong - there were plenty of one-point damage plinks, anyway, which of course were soaked by the Shadow Cloak, and for the few larger hits that came my way I just discarded to prevent them :D. It was the game in which Medico was handing out "regain 3hp or use a power" multiple times in a round which sadly I never got to take advantage of, but eh, I still did stuff so it's fine ;).

On Grasping Shadow Cloth - yes, it does shuffle back in at the start of your turn but in theory it doesn't have to - if something else destroys it before then it'll go into your trash and I can't remember whether it's an Ongoing or Equipment card but if the latter then I seem to recall Writhe has ways of getting those back >:).


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