Well Hello there!
Today, we’re going to take a brief look at the Phoenix Force and try and pick some figures who have kind of fallen through the cracks recently and see what happens to them when you give them access to the Phoenix Force! Every time a new resource is released, some of the best minds in the game (Editor’s Note: And sometimes even we here at Critical Missives!) will reevaluate the current Meta and see who benefits from what the new resource has to offer. Granted, just about ANY figure gets better when you assign a resource to it, but, as we all know, not all dials are created equal. Similarly, not all dials benefit equally from every resource.
(FYI–While this list is hardly comprehensive, it should be noted that I’ll be sticking to Modern Age figures)
Well, that’s kinda what we’re doing today.
So, before we get started, I should point out that the Phoenix Force is a little complicated (I know–what resource isn’t? But it doesn’t help that the instructions have a MAJOR misprint either), so if you have any questions about the basic (and even advanced) mechanics of HOW the resource works, check out Hunter’s (from Dial H for Heroclix) YouTube explanation video. He goes over the resource from every angle, and answers most of the questions you might have about it.
What I personally like about this resource is that you assign figures Fragment Relics at the start of the game (for free) and get benefits RIGHT AWAY (no moving to pick up hammers, etc.). Yes, the resource does progress in terms of the abilities it grants like other resources, but it gives you more abilities more quickly than other resources–specifically, this resource’s first click mods can be taken advantage of much more easily than some of the other resources out there.
Okay! Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to break down some of my favorite figs based on their current HCRealms.com Unit ratings (1-5 Stars) and talk about some of their fatal flaws and how the Phoenix Force can potentially put them over the top!
Let’s start with some…
—IIM042 Iron Doom (IIM Super Rare) — 200 Points
What He Brings Himself on His 1st Click: Indomitable with 8 Range, Wildcard TA, 8 Movement with Running Shot (although that’s his ONLY click of Running Shot), Naked 12 Attack, 18 Defense with Super Senses, Master Mind and Leadership (and he prevents other figures of lower point costs from using either Master Mind OR Leadership–a proviso that is much more interesting in a world filled with CATWS005 Shield Agents!) and 4 Damage with an awesome SP (LORD OF THE WORLD: Iron Doom can use Outwit and Perplex. Give him a free action and roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled. On an result of 4-6, when he uses Outwit, he may counter a power possessed by an opposing character anywhere on the map.).
Whew! That’s a lot. So why don’t we see him more? In other words, …
What’s Wrong With Him?: Well, he’s tough to fit in on a 300 point team for a few reasons (although we’ll discuss his role in higher point games in a second). He doesn’t fly, nor does he have ANY improved movement or targeting. That’s a HUGE negative for a figure of that point cost. Also, he only has Running Shot for 1 click! That’s it! That’s actually one reason why I found this figure so cool, at least from a design standpoint–it’s like the dial designer said to himself, “If I omit virtually every standard Move and Attack power, can I get away with giving this piece EVERY OTHER SINGLE POWER IN THE GAME?!?!” Plus, it’s Tony Stark AS Doctor Doom. Just a fun concept. So I like the flavor of this guy. But when it comes to his place in the game, if your opponent gets even 1 damage through, he’s lost all efficiency. That’s where the Phoenix Force comes in.
The Phoenix Fix: Now, you can fix SOME of what ails Iron Doom by teaming him with a 50 Point IM3006 Tony Stark, who would provide Mastermind fodder (not a great choice for Mastermind, but in a 300 Point game, that’d be all you could afford), Avengers Initiative TA (which would give Doom Improved Movement AND Improved Targeting: Ignores Hindering), Enhancement and Outwit (and with the new Theme Team rules, you now have a Theme Team as they’re both Scientists). But that basic Move and Attack issue remains.
If you play the Phoenix Force with 4 Fragments (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus and Magik) and 2 Assigned Characters (Iron Doom with the Cyclops Fragment and Tony Stark with the Fragment of your choice–probably Emma Frost or Magik, unless your opponent is playing Lydea Mallor or someone of her ilk; then, you’d probably want to assign him the Colossus Fragment to keep her from getting it), you’d still have 20 points left over for either a Splitlip (who would mess up your Theme Team bonus, although that’s not a huge deal), a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. Support Horde Tokens, a KGB Horde Token (gives you a small amount of Prob) or some Warbots. Whatever you choose is probably going to be carried by Iron Doom and might be used as Master Mind fodder in a pinch, so choose wisely. But, for the purposes of this build, we’ll go with Splitlip and say screw the Theme Bonus.
Team Name: No Escaping Your DOOM!!
IIM042 Iron Doom
IM3006 Tony Stark
The Phoenix Force
Assigned Character x2
Cyclops Fragment, Colossus Fragment, Emma Frost Fragment, Magik Fragment
Now, to start the game, Iron Doom has: Indomitable with 8 Range AND Avengers Initiative TA; 8 Movement with Flight, Running Shot AND Charge; 12 Attack (or 13 or 14, depending on how you use RCE) with Blades/Claws/Fangs and Poison; 19 Defense with Leadership, Master Mind and Super Senses; 4 Damage with RCE, Empower, Perplex AND an Outwit that can potentially Outwit a power ANYWHERE ON THE BOARD. And, during the start of your turn, you can also give him Invuln, Mystics TA against ranged attacks or TK. Plus, when you can get Tony Stark to fly in next to him, you have up to +3 to Ranged Damage (from Splitlip AND Tony Stark’s Enhancement plus 1 or 2 more from the RCE that the Cyclops Fragment grants him) AND a Master Mind target who has access to either Toughness (Splitlip) or Invuln (again, Tony Stark if you can get your positioning right)! That’s a figure who’s hard to take down. This isn’t a team that will win a ROC, but it’ll be competitive in most House Games.
In Epic games (400 points or more) Iron Doom only gets better! With Wildcard TA’s, you’ll have room for even more Support, and you can add in another Fragment to get this team access to the second-to-last Power Set to start the game (Running Shot instead of Charge, +1 to Attack instead of Defense, etc.). In a serious 400 or 500 Point game, a Phoenix Force-powered Iron Doom really does become viable as the main piece on a competitive force.
—AVX006E Scarlet Witch (Starter Set) — 100 Points
Yep! I was shocked too. She’s only a 4-star fig as of today. Let’s take a look!
What She Brings Herself on Her 1st Click: 8 Range! For the cost of 1 pushing damage, she can flat destroy your opponent’s strategy if they’re depending on TA’s (NO MORE MUTANTS: Once per game, give Scarlet Witch a double power action and choose a team ability. Any other character that can use that team ability must roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled and if the result is 1 – 5, that character can’t use the chosen team ability for the rest of the game.). She also has a 9 Movement with Phasing, 10 Attack with Precision Strike, 16 Defense with another awesome SP (MYSTICAL WARDS: Scarlet Witch can use Energy Shield/Deflection. When Scarlet Witch is hit with an attack, the roll is ignored and the attacker must roll again. This new roll can’t be rerolled or ignored.) and 3 Damage with possibly the best supporting SP IN THE GAME (CASTING SPELLS: Scarlet Witch can use Perplex, Probability Control, and Support.)! So, essentially, she’s the best support figure/secondary attacker in Modern right now (in my opinion, of course).
What’s Wrong With Her?: Well… not much! Like Iron Doom she doesn’t fly, but with Phasing she really doesn’t have to. She has no reducers, but that’s assuming you can hit her 18 damage from Range TWICE!! No, the main thing that she’s missing is, again, move-and-attack. She has almost every other desirable power in the game! Having said that, at some point you’ll probably want to use that No More Mutants Trait, which means that she’ll either need Willpower OR Regeneration. Let’s see if the Phoenix Force can help with that!
The Phoenix Fix: I would use her on a team with a couple Fragment users and leave 1 Fragment on the resource. Wanda would gain Charge (now we have Move-and-attack!), +1 to Attack and Toughness (we have a reducer!). So we’ve solved two of her three problems just with what the Phoenix Force gives her on its first click. You’d still need a figure with Support to heal her after she uses No More Mutants (unless you use someone like AvX Black Panther to give her Willpower), but we’ve fixed most of what ails her already! For a basic army build featuring Scarlet Witch and the Phoenix Force, let’s try a Mystical build like this:
Team Name: Life’s a Witch, and Then You DIE!!
AVX006E Scarlet Witch
FI007 Iron Fist
The Phoenix Force
Assigned Character x2
Emma Frost Fragment
Wanda would be dangerous from close or from range, the Emma Frost Fragment would give you multiple TK options with her and Shaman, and if you won the map roll (granted, you’d only have +3 to map roll, but that’s not too shabby) and got to go first, you’d be able to fly into position and then zap your opponents flyers with Shaman’s “No Flights” spell, which you’re much more prepared to deal with than they are (hopefully!) with Wanda having phasing and Shaman being able to fly still and White Ranger Iron Fist ignoring both Hindering AND Elevated Terrain. If you were able to take the fight to, say, AvX’s Wundagore Mountain map, you’d have a SIGNIFICANT advantage. This is a team that wouldn’t necessarily do one thing extremely well, but it would do almost everything. Plus, the ability to take away both your opponent’s best TA AND their Flight ability is kind of nasty. If the Map roll goes your way, you can give your opponent fits. And if you assign Cyclops’s Fragment to Shaman, if you can move the resource dial even once, all of the sudden he’s got Sidestep and RCE (one of the cooler combos in the game right now) with a 10 Attack and 3 Damage, 7 range, and an 18 Defense with Barrier and ES/D with a Perplex floating around!! He’s now a Ranged Attacker TO BE FEARED, especially with Wanda backing him up with her Perplex and Prob. This team would take a minute to get going, but they’d be a nightmare to hit from range AND have a fantastic tie-up piece in White Ranger Iron Fist who can dish out healthy amounts of damage himself!
Okay, that blurb turned into a write-up of BOTH Scarlet Witch and Shaman, so consider that 2 for the price of 1 (for the record, Shaman is also a 4-star character, so it still works!)! Can’t believe I almost forgot him!
Alright, now let’s look at some…
We’re also going to take a look at two pieces who ALREADY rate 5-stars on HCRealms,com, but with the Phoenix Force, they get downright broken!!
First up is…
—AVM211 Loki (Chase) — 220 Points
He is already a MONSTER (as he should be–he did take on the combined box office power of Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlet Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Clark Gregg AND Samuel L. Jackson–Good God, what a cast! No wonder this thing made a billion dollars!), but as Michigan State’s own Mike Valenti likes to say, let’s do the format!
What He Brings Himself on His 1st Click: How about the Power Cosmic TA (Willpower, powers can’t be countered). How about the Mystics TA (so if you manage to penetrate his defenses, you get a click of unavoidable damage for your troubles)? How about any copyable TA’s possessed by your opponent? (Three sentences in and we’re not even done with his Team Abilities? Good Lord!)
When you get to his dial, he has 11 Movement with Phasing, 11 Attack with Pulse Wave, 18 Defense with Super Senses and Traited Toughness, and 4 Damage with Shape Change! Now THAT is a dial!
What’s Wrong With Him?: Well, again, he’s almost impossible to fit on a 300 point team because of his cost, and because of that we’re gonna discuss some higher point games with Loki. But beyond his cost, just like Iron Doom, he doesn’t fly. Phasing helps slightly with that; although it can’t be used in conjunction with Charge or Running Shot. It doesn’t matter anyway though because Loki has neither. That is his fatal flaw. But we’re going to fix that with The Phoenix Force!
The Phoenix Fix: We’re gonna run a 400 point game here. The Phoenix Force with 5 Fragments plus 2 Assigned Characters is 33 Points, so when you add Loki in we’re at 253. Add in Splitlip for Loki to carry around the map, and now we’re in business! Asgardian Troll is a fun lil’ close combat attacker, and The Serpent is your other Assigned Character, even though he’s mostly just Phasing around the map to maintain adjacency to his nephew. So, assuming that you leave the Colossus Fragment on the resource dial and have Loki use the Cyclops Fragment and carry Splitlip, his first click looks like this: 11 Movement with Phasing and Running Shot with 9 Range; 11 Attack with Pulse Wave and Energy Explosion; 18 Defense with un-Outwittable Toughness and Invuln (since you’d select that as your Phoenix Power every turn just about) and Super Senses AND Defend; and 4 Damage with Shape Change! Jerry Seinfeld has a message for your opponents while they evaluate a Phoenix-powered Loki:
If you don’t have a really good Pulse Wave piece who has a way to get a significant Alpha Strike in, you’re in trouble before you even sit down to play. And we haven’t even gone into everything Loki gets with all the TA’s. Plus, if the Serpent is next to Loki, The Serpent’s Leadership has the potential to take tokens off of Loki even though Loki’s more points! Shhheeeeessssh!. So it goes a lil’ something like this:
Team Name: Stay Up All Night to Get Loki!!
FI027 The Serpent
FI002 Asgardian Troll
The Phoenix Force
2 Assigned Characters
All Five Fragments
And now for our last 5-Star figure! It’s none other than…
CATWS017 Captain America and Black Widow (Chase) — 130 Points
Our last figure up for discussion is also the newest! Let’s take a look!
What They Bring Themselves on Their 1st Click: How about the kitchen sink? I mean, S.H.I.E.L.D. AND Avengers Initiative TA’s, 10 Movement with Sidestep and Traited Stealth, 11 Attack with Precision Strike and Duo Attack, 18 Defense with Toughness and 3 Damage that ignores the Duo Attack modifier! In a word, Awesomesauce. Which is kind of like two words that I mushed together.
What’s Wrong With Them?: Again, not much! They’re a 5-Star character. Outside of Sidestep, they have no move-and-attack though…
The Phoenix Fix: In a 300-Point game, Cap and BW are really good. But, when we give them some S.H.I.E.L.D. Movie Fig support, along with THE PHOENIX FORCE, they really shine! How about:
Team Name: I Have a Plan–Attack!! (Okay, I know that was a Iron Man line, not a Cap quote, but at least he was saying it to both Cap and Black Widow! So that kinda still counts!)
CATWS017 Captain America and Black Widow
CATWS011 Maria Hill
AVM206 Agent Coulson
CATWSH001 SHIELD Support
The Phoenix Force
Assigned Character x2
All 5 Fragments
S.H.I.E.L.D. ATA x3
Cap and BW now have Running Shot, 12 Attack, 18 Defense with Defend and RCE when you give them the Cyclops Fragment! Here’s a Heroclix formula for you: Traited Stealth + Sidestep + 6 Range + RCE + Avengers Initiative TA + DUO FREAKING ATTACK THAT IGNORES THE NEGATIVE DAMAGE MODIFIER ALL OTHER DUO ATTACKS ARE SUBJECT TO = YOUR OPPONENT DOING THIS:
Followed by his friend coming over from another game to see what’s going on:
Until finally the Judge comes over to wonder what all the fuss is about and sees what the hell you’re playing for what was supposed to be a “fun build” tournament:
Again, just for emphasis, you’ve just made a figure who has: Un-Outwittable Stealth; the ability to move and see through Hindering (i.e., most Stealth); Flight; Running Shot; Sidestep; 6 Range with 2 Targets; RCE; Energy Explosion with two targets; Poison; 3 Damage with improved Duo Attack; 18 Defense with Defend; the Phone Book; the Kitchen Sink; and on and on…
And Maria Hill can TK them around the Map with her Fragment! They’ll each have access to Invuln via the Colossus Fragment, and at this point you’re just a really, really bad person who, as Ninwashui likes to say, probably lacks a moral compass.
So, there ya go! There’s four fun builds based around the newest Marvel Heroclix resource. Have fun! Experiment! Folks are not even close to breaking this thing’s true potential yet.
And–more importantly–I got through a 3000-word article without mentioning Iron Pharaoh!! That absolutely has to be some kind of record!!
Or, you know, at least I almost did!
So what figs do you think will benefit the most from The Phoenix Force? Post your suggestions in the Comments below, and we’ll be back again in a few days for another Weekly Roundup!