[EDITOR’S NOTE: Roberto Ty is back with another META Diary including a breakdown of the team he used and the detailed planning he put into the role of every piece on his team! Roberto’s already on some other column ideas, so if you like what you see, let him know in the Comments below!]
By Roberto Ty
December 1, 2019
Garden City, MI — What qualifies as a great attendance for a Heroclix event? Looking at the numbers from the various ROC States Championship, a great turnout is 12 players (Michigan had 26). It’s reasonable to expect a smaller crowd for a less prestigious event like a ROC Win-A-Map. Today’s competition drew a great crowd of 13 players.
The local shop hosting the Win-A-Map prefers to run major events with restrictions. Usually they ban Colossal Retaliators (cannot start on their lower-point retaliation-click) and ID cards along with one-man-army Uni-mind and the annoying Q Prime.
- 500-point Modern
- Highlander Rule (Primes are primes, all other characters are considered to be silver ring)
- Ban List: ID cards, Special Terrain, Colossal Retaliators starting on their lower-point retaliation-click, Uni-mind, and Q Prime.
After brainstorming some builds, I gravitated toward a monster team with Onslaught. There was little time to practice with Thanksgiving, but I managed to put in four hours of testing on Black Friday. I tried a couple Onslaught-based teams and a Cosmic team nested around Dark Phoenix. Woefully under-practiced and feeling my usual stress before a competitive meta event, I rolled the dice and stuck with Onslaught.
Breaking Down My Monster Mash Team
MY MONSTER TEAM
200 RE068 Barbatos
125 XDPSG006R Onslaught
50 EAX062E Captain Venom
– 5 WKMP19-S105 Nightbringer (Mandarin Ring)
75 XDPSG022R Mojo
35 RE014 Prez Rickard
– 5 WKMP19-s103 Spin (Mandarin Ring)
5 EAXLB-ST Iron Avengers, Assemble
Suffering the Onslaught
By now most meta players (which I’m not) have experienced just how annoyingly good Onslaught is (I have), but in case you’re not as lucky, I will highlight his abilities:
- (☆TRAIT) BEHIND THE SCENES: Onslaught can’t be targeted by opposing characters 5 or more squares away.
- (☆TRAIT) PSYCHIC JUGGERNAUT: Onslaught has PROTECTED: Mind Control, Outwit, and Penetrating/Psychic Blast. Once per turn, Onslaught can use Incapacitate as FREE -or- Mind Control as FREE -or- Telekinesis as FREE.
- (SPECIAL ATTACK) “KILL YOU, CAIN MARKO? WHAT A SPLENDID IDEA!”: Onslaught can knock back characters that can use Charge or Combat Reflexes. // When Onslaught hits with a close attack, a hit character unequips all equipment and drops any held objects and after resolutions, Onslaught knocks back a hit character 9 squares.
- (SPECIAL DAMAGE) RESHAPING REALITY: Probability Control, Shape Change. When Onslaught uses Probability Control to reroll an opposing character’s attack roll and the final result is a miss, after resolutions you may place that opposing character up to 3 squares away from their current square.
- Improved Targeting: Hindering and Characters with nine range and three targets.
- Brotherhood of Mutants and X-Men Team Ability
Having seen enough of this guy in the X-Men Animated Series pre-release and release day events and in the ROC States Championship, I wanted to build around his strengths. With the format being 500-modern, I would have plenty of room to include more formidable attackers and complementary support.
The Bad Mofo
Barbatos is exactly that: one bad Mofo. He is the must-have of the Rebirth chases. At 100-points he is more of a secondary attacker with some unique abilities that can be useful on the right build. However, the correct move was to use him at the full 200-points as the primary attacker on my monster team. What makes him such a bad-ass:
- (☆TRAIT) ASSEMBLE AN ARMY OF NIGHTMARES: Friendly characters with the Monster keyword can use the Batman Enemy team ability. Friendly characters with the Dark Knights keyword can use the Batman Ally team ability.
- (☆TRAIT) DRAG YOU INTO THE DARK MULTIVERSE: Phasing/Teleport. Phasing/Teleport as FREE, but only to move up to 4 squares and when he does, after resolutions adjacent opposing characters have Immobile until your next turn.
- (SPECIAL DAMAGE) SO FALLS THE REALM OF LIGHT: Opposing characters within 6 squares that can use Outwit, Perplex or Support can use Battle Fury.
- Improved Targeting: Hindering
- Quintessence Team Ability
On top click he has a 12 movement, 8 range, 12 Penetrating Psychic Blast, 19 Invincible, and 4 Damage. The idea was to free phase 4 squares, immobilize adjacent opposing characters and/or attack with Penetrating Psychic Blast. Then I could use Onslaught’s FREE Telekinesis to place him in hindering terrain for his Stealth via the Batman Ally team ability. Additionally, Barbatos gave monster keyword friendlies, the Batman Enemy team ability. With his top attack of 12, my entire team got a bump to their attack when they were adjacent to Barbatos.
Now that I had my bad Mofo, it was time for a behind-the-scenes maestro and what better director than the Electrifyin’ Mojo? What he brings to the team:
- (☆ TRAIT) BEHIND THE SCENES: Mojo can’t be targeted by opposing characters 5 or more squares away.
- (☆ TRAIT) MORE ACTION!…RATINGS ARE DROPPING!: Whenever a character misses all targets of their attack, give Mojo a Bored token. FREE: Remove 2 Bored tokens to either place Mojo anywhere on the map -or- make an attack.
- (SPECIAL MOVEMENT) KEEP THE CAMERAS ON THEM!: Sidestep. When an opposing characters uses Sidestep, after resolutions Mojo may move up to 2 squares.
You can begin to see that my team doesn’t have the traditional move and attack capability (i.e. Running Shot, Hypersonic Speed, or Charge), but there’s a lot of mobility inherent to each monster’s special trait. With the prevalence of Sidestep in the game, Mojo takes incredible advantage of this fact by being able to move after the resolution of my opponent’s Sidestep. A subtle, but very effective special damage power that could help control positioning. Additionally, Mojo would help place Barbatos through his own Telekinesis. Like a good director, Mojo sets the battle scene.
Oh Captain, My Captain
The minute Captain Venom was introduced, the monster keyword got a huge bump. Let’s breakdown why:
- (☆ TRAIT) ALIEN SYMBIOTE: Plasticity, Shape Change. Captain Venom automatically breaks away.
- (☆ TRAIT) EDDIE, YOU’RE JUST THE MAN WE NEED: During game setup when establishing themed teams, you may treat the Monster keyword as a named keyword.
- (SPECIAL DAMAGE) READY TO SERVE MY SPECIES: Leadership. When another friendly character with the Monster keyword attacks, modify its attack +1 if Captain Venom attacked this turn.
Captain Venom is the natural leader for my monster band. He makes the generic monster keyword into a named one. This would provide me with additional sources of Probability Control through Theme Team Probability Control. It also gave me a fighting chance to win the map and gain control of the environment my team would battle on. As I mentioned in the previous Meta Diary, a good map can neutralize an advantage your opponent’s team possesses (i.e. XDPSG007 Juggernaut is incredibly weak on a map like Galador Promenade that has no blocking terrain). Captain Venom’s role wouldn’t be on the front lines, but as a commander providing the support for a victory. I decided to play him at his 50-point level, where he’s only four clicks long. My foot soldiers would have to rally around him to keep him alive. Despite his short dial, most of my opponents never thought to target him for a quick kill. This often was to my advantage because Captain Venom just needed to attack in a turn and all monster keyword friendlies would get a +1 to their attack.
In monster movies, there’s always one human that sympathizes with the monster’s plight. By playing Captain Venom at his lower point value, I was able to include my version of the human monster sympathizer: Prez Rickard. Kudos to Jose Rodrigo Rosales Guerrero, the 2016 Mexican Heroclix Champion, for designing such a capable figure. At 35-points Prez Rickard has the best Leadership in the game. His two traits and low point cost make him an easy addition to any team:
- (☆ TRAIT) EVERYONE’S FAVORITE TEENAGE PRESIDENT: Prez Rickard doesn’t count for or against themed teams.
- (☆ TRAIT) THE GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICA: Leadership, but succeeds on [4-6]. When Prez Rickard uses it and succeeds, instead you may remove one action token each from any number of opposing characters. For each one removed, remove an action token from a friendly character within 6 squares. In all my games, he was well-worth his points.
Final Team Building Thoughts
The strategy would be to attack my opponent from range while not being able to be targeted at distances greater than four squares away. To further help control the battlefield, I added the following game elements:
- IRON AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE MAP LOCATION BONUS FROM EARTH X STAR TOWER INDOOR MAP. With only a +4 to map roll, there was a good chance I wouldn’t win map since all the teams had to be themed. Including this map location bonus meant that at the very least I could generate a Crimson Sage bystander for her Probability Control if I didn’t win the map roll. If I won map, then I would use Captain Venom’s Indomitable to POWER action in consecutive turns to roll a d6 to potentially generate a bystander (d6 result: 1-Tank, 3-Crimson Sage, or 5-Bolt).
- NIGHTBRINGER (MANDARIN RING). I would equip this to Captain Venom to give him Stealth and the ability to generate 2 Smoke Cloud markers for FREE.
- ZERO (MANDARIN RING). I would equip this to Prez Rickard to give him Barrier. He could generate 1 Barrier marker for FREE.
GAME 1 — My first round opponent was a regular at the venue. He thought that we were required to bring a named theme team and therefore had built an X-Men team that consisted of the Convention Exclusive WKMP19-002 Phoenix Force Magneto, which he would equip with the Red Skull’s s007 Cosmic Cube, OP WKM19-013 Wakanda Queen Storm, XDPS003 Beast, XXS053E Wolverine at the 50-point starting line, XXS007A Moira MacTaggart, ABPIS001 Reality Gem (Infinity Gem), and WKMP19-S101 Remaker (Mandarin Ring). He won map and chose X-Men Regenesis Lombard Street Outdoor Map. I generated a Crimson Sage bystander for my consolation. I chose the side with the higher elevation 3. In all my games, my first turn is usually spent using Onslaught’s and Mojo’s Telekinesis to equip the Mandarin Rings to Captain Venom and Prez Rickard. His team was pretty scary with a lot of Perplex abilities to boot. Magento would present the greatest challenge with his Running Shot 11 Movement and 8 Range with 2 Targets. He could easily get into the radius necessary to target Onslaught with a few Perplex modifications to his movement. The Storm is also a nice addition to his team because she gives Stealth to characters within three squares that share a keyword with her. Unfortunately for him, both Onslaught and Barabatos has Improved Targeting: Hindering. We both positioned conservatively at first, but once he moved his team midway I went after his Wolverine with Barbatos hitting him to his STOP click. I tried to follow that up with Onslaught’s Mind Control, but Wolverine had Battle Fury. I had to choose a different target, Storm, but failed to hit due to her defense being Perplexed up. He would try to retaliate using his Magneto, but I successfully rolled for Shape Change with Onslaught. I then would KO his Wolverine with Barbatos and move my team away from the Magneto threat. I won 50-0. Record: 1-0.
GAME 2 — Game 1 was a low-scoring affair and was proof that I hadn’t practiced enough with my team. Despite this I learned a few things that I hoped to correct in my Game 2 matchup with a well-known Clix player. He has an incredible track record locally, winning several major events and usually placing in the Top 4. Most recently he placed 2nd in the Michigan ROC States Championship. He brought a mystical swarm team in the form of TMT002 Loki with TMT002T God of Trickery that allowed him to generate two faux Lokis, TMT053A Hela, EW040 Al Jhor Dan, SWB031 Alex Wilder, RE026E Billy Batson, TMNT4024 Shredder with TMNT4024A ILLUSIONARY DOUBLE, RE014 Prez Rickard, and WKMP19-S107 Incandescence (Mandarin Ring). He was a +8 to map roll, a net of +4. I rolled a 12! Quickly looking at his team I knew that he would definitely force the action by basing me with his Lokis. They are really annoying tie-up pieces that generate more Lokis if they successfully hit their Shape Change rolls. Then if I managed to KO them, Hela would bring out a Warrior Soul in their place. After first turn positioning and equipping, the action started with his Loki basing my Onslaught. This was definitely a faux Loki and I spent a couple actions killing it, not realizing that I didn’t score the points for them. Once that was explained to me, I decided to simply avoid them. He managed to land some damage on Captain Venom and I knew I would have to carry him away with Onslaught. I really used the map to my advantage to isolate his swarming ability and placed Captain Venom in a safe location protected by a wall and Onslaught. At this point, he had moved Al Jhor Dan into position where he could choose Telekinesis through his pick-a-power ability to place Hela within 4 of Onslaught. Unfortunately, his rolls were terrible. When he needed a 5, he would roll a 4. This allowed me to come in with Barbatos and immobilize his Hela. Because of her Mystics Team Ability I didn’t necessarily feel a need to attack and instead one-shot his Alex Wilder, killing him, and because he’s a traitor figure, he was now friendly to my force. This gave me two of the following powers: Perplex, Probability Control, or Outwit, depending on the power my opponent chose that I couldn’t use. He gave me Perplex and Probability Control. This allowed me to modify Onslaught with all my Perplexes and kill Al Jhor Dan in a single shot. Win 115-0. Record: 2-0.
GAME 3 — Another matchup with a well-known and highly-skilled player. Because of my low point total, I knew I had to win this game to make Top 4. His Cosmic team consisted of full-point Ultra Chase ABPI074 Thanos equipped with the Ego Gem (Infinity Gem) and ABPIS002 Time Gem (Infinity Gem), Chase CMM021 Captain Marvel with the TMTS005 Enchanted Crowbar, ABPI048 Astronomer with ABPIT006 Bearer of the Power Gem, ABPI064 Collector with ABPIT003 Bearer of the Reality Gem and ABPIS003 Power Gem (Infinity Gem), and WKD17-B003 Ape Green Lantern bystander. I win map roll. Much of the game was positioning and I knew he had excellent sources of Telekinesis in Astronomer and Collector with the Reality Gem. I would have to use the walls to prevent line of sight and use Prez Rickard’s Barrier through the Zero ring to prevent him taking a running shot with Captain Marvel. Ultimately I made a couple errors that cost me the game. The first error was not anticipating that Captain Marvel’s ability to Charge at no cost after using Running Shot was not dependent on hitting. He used Telekinesis to position Captain Marvel to Running Shot and destroy my Barrier. She then Charged on Barbatos landing a huge hit. This forced me to retreat to keep him alive. I decided to retaliate and Mind Control his Thanos to attack his own team, which I did successfully, but not enough to KO anyone. He then placed Thanos into position with Telekinesis where he could Sidestep within Onslaught’s radius. Having used Thanos only once myself, I forgot about his awesome Perplex, which essentially neutralizes PROTECTED: Outwit when he uses it on an opponent. He Perplexed Onslaught’s defense down then proceeded to Outwit my Shape Change and defense. He then modified Thanos’ damage and hit Onslaught, killing him in one shot as last action was called. Loss 0-125. Record: 2-1. Final placement was 6 of 13 players.
Twilight of the Monsters
I really enjoyed my team and felt it mostly performed as I had anticipated. My strategy was sound. I do believe that if I had practiced more I could have possibly placed even higher. I forgot a few other items that could have helped my team. Particularly Mojo’s bored tokens that he accrues when any characters miss an attack, including my own team. Mojo then can remove two bored tokens to either be placed anywhere on the map or to make a close attack. I had utilized this in practice, but forgot it on my own missed attacks on game day. Overall, I’m not sure I would change much to my team since each element served a purpose and all my pieces worked well together. About the only adjustment I could make was to the equipment, but even then I thought they did well. I did forget to use normal Barrier from the Zero Ring and not just the free 1 Barrier marker. This definitely could have helped in my third game, where I could have put up a Barrier that was 2 squares deep. I would like to possibly consider adding the Pym Pocket Tank, but that would force me to either drop both Mandarin rings or the map location bonus and a ring. Overall, it wasn’t the day for Monsters, but then again you never know when they might return to rule the day.
Thanks for reading another Meta Diary installment.