The Winter Soldier began as James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, a sidekick to Captain America and was first introduced in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941. He would later be brought back from death as a brainwashed Russian assassin with a robotic arm. He would become a recurring antagonist for Captain America until his memories were restored, leading him down the path of becoming an anti-hero. He would go on to temporarily take the mantle of Captain America. The Winter Soldier has appeared in television shows and games since, and he made his live-action debut as Bucky Barnes in the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger portrayed by Sebastian Stan. The Winter Soldier would debut in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and continue to make guest appearances in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, and take a leading role in the 2021 series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Thought dead, James Buchanan Barnes was found and captured by a Russian submarine, brainwashed, and made into the perfect assassin. Indoctrinated to hate the West and upgraded with a new bionic arm, the Winter Soldier would conduct countless assassinations over the years and be placed in cryosleep to preserve his body over time. He has superhuman strength, incredible stamina, mastery over multiple fighting styles, and an indomitable will to complete every mission. In Unmatched, Winter Soldier is an unstoppable nightmare whose brainwashing may even make him a danger to himself.
Health: 15 / Attack: Ranged / Movement: 2
Effects on Winter Soldier’s cards cannot be cancelled.
Strategies and Tips
Winter soldier is an incredibly strong fighter who is weakened by some of his card effects. To play him optimally you have to find the best time to use some of his hardest cards so that the negative side effects will not affect you too badly. He also has a card that will let him ignore the negative side effects on his cards, so planning the optimal time to use it can be a fun challenge. As a ranged fighter, his movement is pretty low, but he is also a capable fighter in melee range.
High attack power
Great defensive options
No card effects can be canceled
Should never reach exhaustion
Negative card effects
Low board presence
Heroes who force discards (e.g. Medusa, Sherlock)
The following are 3 tips for overcoming your brainwashing:
Tip #1: Brainwashed
Your special ability makes it so that none of your card effects can be canceled. This is an excellent special ability, but it does come with some weaknesses. Winter Soldier has 5 cards in his deck with a special STAR effect that can be problematic:
Without Remorse is an attack with a value of 6 with a STAR effect that lets your opponent draw 1 card after combat. As far as negative effects go, this is one of the most forgiving in his deck. It allows your opponent to replace the card they used to defend your attack with, but the attack value is so high that I do not believe this is a problem.
Bionic Arm is an attack with a value of 2 that becomes a 6 during combat if Winter Soldier is adjacent to the opposing fighter. This isn’t the only card effect that relies on adjacency to activate, so think of these as options to attack with once your opponent closes the distance. The STAR effect, however, allows your opponent to move each of their fighters up to 5 spaces after combat. Granting our opponent movement when it is not their turn gives them a pretty good advantage.
Programmed to kill is an attack with a value of 4 with a STAR effect that makes you take 2 damage after combat if you won the combat. Needless to say, taking damage is always a negative, especially when it is self-inflicted.
Reflexive Memories is a versatile card with a value of 5 with a STAR effect that forces you to discard 2 random cards after combat, then draw 2 cards. This is one of the worst effects in your deck since you do not even get to choose which cards are discarded.
Manipulation is a scheme that lets you draw until you have 5 cards in your hand. The STAR effect gives each of your opponents the same opportunity to draw until 5 cards are in their hand. This is not an effect I would worry too much about. Many opponents may not want to draw more cards, especially if their deck is running low.
Tip #2: Overcome Your Brainwashing
Each of the five cards in his deck with the *STAR* effects can have a negative impact on your game, so you should be cautious whenever you use them; however, there is a way to negate these effects:
A Boy Named Bucky is a scheme that lets you ignore any STAR effects on your cards for the rest of your turn and gain 1 action.
This scheme enables your strong cards to be even stronger. There are only 2 of these cards in your deck, so you need to plan your attack before you use this card. The best cards to use with this scheme are the following:
Bionic Arm is a great card to use in this instance, but only when you are adjacent to your opponent. Ideally, you will not need to maneuver to them, making this your second action and keeping them from escaping with your negative effect.
Programmed to Kill should ONLY be used when negating the STAR effect. It is never worth taking 2 damage for an attack, especially since this attack value is only a 4, meaning there is a low chance you will even deal 2 damage to your opponent.
Reflexive Memories is the most important card in your deck to NEVER use unless you can cancel the STAR effect. Discarding 2 random cards is simply irresponsible and unpredictable. Even if you are in a position where this is the only card you have to defend with, I still wouldn’t recommend using this card. 5 is a strong value to attack with, so prioritize using this card with the scheme.
Tip #3: The Unstoppable Assassin
Winter Soldier has other great cards in his deck besides the ones previously mentioned. Those are special cases. Your gameplay as a whole should be built around the following card:
Reprogram is a versatile card with a value of 2 that allows you to choose 3 cards in your discard pile after combat and reshuffle them into your deck. You should always prioritize returning one of these cards into your deck as well.
There are no limitations on what cards you choose. You may be tempted to reshuffle in A Boy Named Bucky or any of the other cards previously mentioned, but I believe there are better options:
Marksman is an attack with a value of 1 that allows you to add +1 to the card’s value during combat for each space between you and the opposing fighter along the shortest path. This card is map dependent, so if you are on a map that allows you to regularly make this a value of 4 or 5, I say it is worth it. Otherwise, Without Remorse is another attack you should consider. It does have a STAR effect, but it forces your opponent to go through their deck quicker, so it isn’t necessarily a negative for you.
Complete the Mission is a defense card with a value of 3 that allows you to boost the card during combat. Additionally, you may deal damage to the opposing fighter, after combat, equal to the amount of combat damage you took. This is an amazing defense card, and arguably one of the best in the entire game. Allowing you to boost simply gives you the choice as to whether or not you would rather take damage and give it back or take no damage at all.
Wily Fighting is a versatile card with a value of 3 that lets you deal 1 damage to each opposing fighter adjacent to Winter Soldier after combat. This is great for taking out annoying 1hp sidekicks and chipping away at your opponent’s health.
Born in the Barrack is a versatile card with a value of 3 that lets you recover 2 health after combat if you won the combat. Recovering health is always great, but with just a value of 3 you are unlikely to win combat when attacking. This should be primarily used defensively.
And of course, depending on your opponent Feint is always a reliable option. As a versatile card with a value of 2 and the ability to immediately cancel all effects on your opponent’s card, this can shut down effect driven attacks by your opponent.
Since none of your card effects can be canceled, you can effectively cycle through your deck and discard pile infinitely. Additionally, you can choose which 3 cards are best for your specific matchup and keep returning them to your deck. If you play smart and be cautious of opponents who can force you to discard all of your Reprogram cards, you should never reach exhaustion.
Winter Soldier is an engaging hero with some very strong attack and defense options and weaknesses that balance them out. When played optimally, he should never reach exhaustion but is vulnerable to heroes who force him to discard cards from his deck or hand. His movement is low for a ranged hero, but he has options that are viable for melee and ranged combat. Ultimately, Winter Soldier is a balanced character who will excel in certain matchups and struggle in others. Since his mechanics are relatively simple to understand, we recommend Winter Soldier to all players.
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