Modern Is the New Silver!! (Or, The Best Replacement Figures for Recently Retired Meta Staples!!)

For some pieces, it's just time to retire...

For some pieces, it’s just time to retire…

So, WizKids announced recently that they will be rotating (read: RETIRING) a whole chunk of recent sets from being Modern Age eligible. Why? For starters, they do it to promote the idea that we who play Heroclix need to keep buying new Clix products to compete in Modern Age games (although getting us to buy new Clix hasn’t been much of an issue so far, I’d wager…), and two, they need to keep new pieces away from unintended and possibly Meta-breaking interactions with older figures. Okay, there’s waaaay more reasons than that, but those are two big ones. Two other reasons, however, are a little bit more subtle.

Before we get into the meat of this article (the figure comparisons), we need some context, so we’re going to look at game design for just a few paragraphs here. Now, every time a game like Heroclix releases new products, it evolves just a little bit. And it does so in two interesting ways. First, collectible games of all types–if they stick around long enough–all go through phases where they deal with “Power Creep,” where each successive set release brings with it elements which, on average, are slightly more powerful than those released in the previous set or expansion, which in turn was just a little more powerful than its predecessor, and so on. For example, you can compare almost any Modern Age figure with a similar figure from Infinity Challenge, the first ever set, and see that things have changed drastically. Back then, an Attack Value of 8 was a fairly common top dial stat. Now, 8 AV’s are reserved for the deep end of cheap support figure dials. And so on and so on.

This should explain everything...

This should explain everything.

Power Creep is just a natural by-product of game designers trying new and different things with the intention of making their game better with each release. The very much missed WoW TCG from Cryptozoic was constantly dealing with Power Creep, and at one point they actively made it known that they were consciously lowering the power of Quests (a card type that’s kinda like Lands in Magic) in future sets because that particular card type had crept to absurdly powerful levels at that point in the game’s life cycle.

Sometimes, the opposite can also be true. Occasionally, the designers look back at some of the early cards/figures/whatever and realize that they drastically under costed certain tropes in the past. They may like a certain mechanic or effect of a particular piece, but there not about to reprint it as is, since they now know its effects to cost ratio is to high as is. To solve this, the designers basically create a new version of that element that contains almost the exact same effect yet costs slightly more to play. I call this “Cost Correction.” Magic: The Gathering is constantly doing this.

One of the famous early examples of Cost Correction in gaming was when Magic’s R&D department took a look at many of the staples from the early Alpha/Beta/Unlimited/Revised era as they started preparing a rotating block of “Core” sets from which players could draw familiar cards to combine with the current expansion set inventory to create Type II (read “Modern Age”) decks. The folks in charge of balancing the game quickly decided that a card like Lightning Bolt, for example, was too powerful (3 Red Damage for 1 Red Mana) to stay in the Type II environment, so it was replaced with the Ice Age common Incinerate (3 Damage and the prevention of Regeneration for 1 Red Mana and 1 Colorless Mana) by the time Magic published its “Fifth Edition.”

Great...

This is great…

... but just about as good!

… but this is still pretty damn good!

This was awesome, because it allowed the folks in charge of Magic to fix an under costed staple (quick Red damage dealing) with something that would still effectively to the job for a little more cost. Incinerate was still a great card and was widely adopted. Problem solved (well, until it was deemed that Incinerate was too good, and it was replaced with a different staple, and so it goes).

The savvy tournament players in Magic weren’t just the players who came up with “killer combos” by exploiting certain card interactions; they were actually usually the ones who could spot both the Power Creep cards AND the Cost Correction cards that were still extremely efficient for their cost. See, a lot of times, players can smell Cost Correction pieces a mile away, and they don’t want any part of them. Incinerate wasn’t universally accepted when Fifth Edition rolled around.

Sometimes they’re right; but sometimes, the Cost Correction version of something is still really powerful and should still be used regardless of the cost.

"Back in my day, if you wanted to shoot a bolt o' lightning at a feller, it cost ya just 1 red mana, and if'n ya had a Mana Flare, ya got change!!"

“Back in my day, if you wanted to shoot a bolt o’ lightning at a feller, it cost ya just 1 red mana, and if’n ya had a Mana Flare out, ya got change!!”

Okay! Enough amateur game theory lecture! Let’s apply our discussion to Heroclix! We’re going to be looking at some of the retiring staples and theorize about which–if any–Modern Age piece can take the place of the retiring figure. Then after we review the replacement candidate, we’ll decide if the new figure is better than its forebear (Power Creep), worse (Cost Correction) or about the same (uh… Static?).

SUPERMAN:

"Fly away, Superman. Fly free."

“Fly away, Superman. Fly free.”

SM001R Superman150 PointsCommon: Supes was a Meta staple waaaay back in the Dark Ages of 2011, because his base stats and mix of powers were so great. Flight, 9 Movement with Hypersonic, 11 Attack with Super Strength, 17 Defense with Impervious and 4 Damage with Outwit. One of the all-time great top clicks, especially for a Common 150 piece! Superman Team Ability means he can see through Stealth, too. Bonus! His keywords are quite pedestrian by today’s standards (no JLA?), but there was a time when Scientist teams were a thing!

Replacement Candidate:

IIM001AE Iron Man150 Points – Common: Hmmm, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Flight, 9 Movement, 11 Attack, 17 Defense and 4 Damage with Outwit! His move-and-attack ability is Running Shot where Supes had Hypersonic; I’ll actually take Iron Man’s Precision Strike over Supes’s Super Strength, but whatever. You’re mileage may vary. Finally, Iron Man has Invuln where Supes has Impervious. But Iron Man can see through Hindering Terrain AND Blocking Terrain; Supes’s X-Ray vision doesn’t work on walls like Tony’s Thermal Imaging Array does, so Mr. Stark can get up to all sorts of see-through shenanigans. Kind of a bummer for Superman. Iron Man also has much better keywords (Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Scientist, Armor and Stark Industries are all great) and he has the S.H.I.E.L.D. TA, so he can help your support guys do damage in a pinch as well. With resources and Entities, Iron Man here gets pretty filthy pretty fast….

 The Verdict: A Static replacement that features just a tiny touch of Power Creep. The Meta has become much more sophisticated since Supes was a major player, but Iron Man 001 is just as good; maybe even a lil’ better!

Pink is the new nuclear fallout.

Pink is the new nuclear fallout.

SM035 Magog172 Points – Rare: A close combat beatstick who turns into a mid-dial mid-range sniper and a back dial healer (how’s that for a powers mix?), Magog left team builders enough points to still be an effective Primary Attacker; his lack of Willpower wasn’t great, but his Trait (EXCESSIVE FORCE: Once per turn, when Magog KO’s an opposing character, after actions resolve Magog may take one action as a free action.) meant that his teams were very tough to out-action, particularly if opposing teams ran several small support figures or Bystander tokens that Magog could snipe in one shot.

Replacement Candidate:

DP057 Tiamat 255 Points – Super Rare: Tiamat cannot be stopped. He cannot be reasoned with. He’s a double-based son of a gun whose extra-action Trait (CHAMPION AND STEED: Once per turn, when an opposing character has taken damage from his attack, give Tiamat any action as a free action. When you do, after action resolve, remove an action token from Tiamat.) is as good as any they’ve ever made. With Power Cosmic, he’s all but impossible to Outwit, too, so the opposition will have to chew through his 4 clicks of Invincible–if they’re able to hit his 18 Defense!

The Verdict: Even with the dramatic increase in cost, there’s still some Power Creep going on with Tiamat. His Trait is just sick. Like Magog though, this is still more of a fringe Meta piece. But he’s a lot of fun to field.

An old movie poster for the 70's exploitation flick "Black Adam... White Lighting!"

An old movie poster for the 70’s exploitation flick “Black Adam… White Lighting!”

SM054E Black Adam – 200 Points – Super Rare: An out and out beast, Black Adam was nigh unstoppable. He had no Range, but he made up for that with a ridiculous Charge Special that let him move up to 10 spaces for a close combat attack, and when he lost that, he gained Hypersonic Speed! Not a bad backup plan! 18 Defense with a Special that lets him reduce 3 damage with his Imperious instead of 2 and an end 0f dial Regeneration that does 1 Penetrating damage to adjacent opposing figures!

Replacement Candidate:

IIM041BE Hyperion – 200 Points – Prime Super Rare: Top dial Hypersonic, same Attack (11) as Black Adam only with Precision Strike, 18 Defense with merely Invuln and 4 Damage instead of Black Adam’s 5. Also his keywords are fine (Avengers is very useful, Squadron Supreme is useless, as the only other Modern Ager with that keyword is also Prime), but Black Adam’s are great. Having said all that, Hyperion has two things going for him that Black Adam doesn’t. Power Cosmic TA and 8 Range! Also, Hyperion picks up almost every good Improved Targeting ability in the game on his second click, which actually makes the Marvel man more versatile than the heavy duty dude who sometimes runs with Captain Marvel.

The Verdict: Again, a fairly Static replacement with a hint of Power Creep. What you lose in top end damage, you more than make up for with the 8 Range and Power Cosmic TA. The Improved Targeting shenanigans are where the Power Creep creeps in.

INCREDIBLE HULK:

Now that... is a creeper 'stache.

Now that… is a creeper ‘stache!

IH102 Major Glenn Talbot33 Points – LE: The good Major here powered up Soldier teams for the last couple of years. His top dial Enhancement for only 33 Points was a bigger deal pre-Fear Itself (Splitlip now gives you top dial Enhancement for a measly 20 #$#@ing points), but even post-FI, if you wanted to play a Soldier Theme Team and you wanted a top dial Enhancer, he was still your best option. The S.H.I.E.L.D. TA he carries also has proven to be quite useful in a pinch, and if you play him on the right team, his Mastermind top dial will keep him around for a while longer than he should.

Replacement Candidate:

DP204 Secret Empire Number 9 35 Points – Common (Gravity Feed): Stop laughing! This robed menace is the real deal, and one of the best figs in the Deadpool Gravity Feed assortment. Everyone so far has focused on the fact that he has the Secret Empire keyword, and how useless that is. Well, they’re right. You can’t do much with that. But look at his SECOND KEYWORD–that’s right, it’s “Soldier!” Which means you have your Soldier Theme Team support figure back–and he can even do some damage of him own if you get into trouble. A 9 Attack isn’t great, but Penetrating/Psychic Blast means that his two damage will get through. And while he has no S.H.I.E.L.D. TA, he does have the Hydra TA, which is almost as useful for ranged attacks.

The Verdict: Even at three more points, I’m still gonna classify SE#9 as a Power Creeper! He just gives you more bang for your buck, and you still have the one keyword you need to keep it Theme!

GALACTIC GUARDIANS:

Noted Detroit Pistons fan Mole Man watching the NBA Draft Lottery last month...

Noted Prince Oberyn Martell fan Mole Man immediately after watching the Trial By Combat scene on his DVR from the fourth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

GG026 Mole Man47 Points – Uncommon: Now, you want to talk about a Meta staple? Here is a Meta STAPLE!! Hans Moleman here was the engine that powered the Shuma-Gorath monstrosities that ruled the ROC for awhile at the end of last year and early this year. How important was his souped-up, I-can-Mind-Control-a-friendly-Monster Special Power? So important that everyone’s predicting the end of Shuma as a viable Meta piece, simply because Mole Man’s going Golden Age, which would imply that Mole Man was doing the heavy lifting all along. The fact that he was a top dial Outwitter and had some close combat applications down dial was just icing on the cake.

Replacement Candidate:

DP043 Black Talon 60 Points – Rare: There really wasn’t a replacement candidate until Deadpool was released. Black Talon allows you to Mind Control a friendly character from up to 8 squares away, and he also lets you Mind Control opposing figures that have already been KO’d! Still… his keywords are incongruent with most of the teams with which you’d like to play him. I mean, Masters of Evil is okay, and Mystical has slipped a lil’ bit but is certainly still viable, but that’s it for useful keywords, unless you’re looking to dominate the Meta with a Lethal Legion team. And hey, if you are, good luck to you. Here’s the last guy to try that at a big tournament:

It takes a special kind of crazy to run Lethal Legion at a ROC...

It takes a special kind of crazy to run a Lethal Legion at a ROC…

The Verdict: This is a Cost Correction piece. But it’s a First Generation Cost Correction piece; you could argue that WizKids still is not valuing the ability to Mind Control your own characters highly enough (in one of the early episodes of The Quarry, one high level player who was an early Mole Man/Shuma adopter said that after playtesting those two together with his friends, they all came to the conclusion that the ability to Mind Control friendly characters–even with a keyword restriction–should not appear on pieces less than, like, 100 or 125 Points. Thus, Black Talon is still extremely good and he’s definitely Meta-worthy. He’s just not as balls to the wall insane as Mole Man. Jumping from 47 to 60 may not seem like much, but that 13 Point hike could possibly cost you the space you need for a resource or the exact right support piece. That’s another reason it was so key for Mole Man to be under 50 Points. He left you plenty of room to get creative–or to run a full Booklip, if you didn’t care about Theme. Black Talon, not so much…

 CHAOS WAR:

"Go ahead. Try and look this good in purple. I dare you."

“Go ahead. Try and look this good in purple. I dare you.”

CW039 Hawkeye98 Points – Rare: This is one of the most discussed pieces in the history of Critical Missives (NINWASHUI NOTE: Iron Pharaoh would beg to differ.), but we’re gonna have to talk about him at least one more time! His top dial 12 Attack with an INSANE 9 Range w/ 3 Bolts, Sharpshooter, Wildcard TA (and Thunderbolts keyword, which means that between the two you can give him almost any TA in the game), Stealth and Running Shot and 3 Damage with Leadership. If this dial cost 130 Points, it’d be worth it. He costs 98!! Insane. Great keywords (Thunderbolts, Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D. with GLA just thrown in for fun). Just stupidly good.

Replacement Candidate:

DP036 Bullseye110 Points – Rare: Right down to rarity, Bullseye is almost a clone of that silly Hawkeye piece. Running Shot with 8 Range and 3 Bolts, 12 Attack with Precision Strike instead of Sharpshooter, 17 Defense with Combat Reflexes instead of Willpower, 3 Damage with Probability Control instead of Leadership (I’ll take that deal everyday!) and some okay keywords (Thunderbolts, Assassin) mean Bullseye is gonna show up in the Meta SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!! Oh, and his Improved Targeting: The Phone Book makes it really hard to hide from him…

The Verdict: Even with all the goodness on Bullseye’s dial, this is a Cost Correction dial. Just 12 Points more than Hawkeye, but you also lose the Avengers keyword, the Spidey (Wildcard) TA and 1 Range. I think WizKids knows that they undervalued that Hawkeye by a significant amount. Bullseye they only underestimated by a less significant amount. Which, as always, means you should play Bullseye as much as you can.

FAST FORCES: CHAOS WAR:

"Hey! My eyes are up here! What? You pig! You know what? No more mutants! There! I said it. I hope you're happy."

“Hey! My eyes are up here! What? You pig! You know what? No more mutants! There! I said it. I hope you’re happy.”

FFCW006R Scarlet Witch50 Points – Fast Forces (Fixed Rarity): You know what she does; Mystics TA, Pen/Psy, Barrier, Perplex and Prob Control with an 8 Range. With Avengers and Mystical keywords (among others). One of the most used figures in ROC history, I’m sure.

Replacement Candidate:

FFDP006R Mercy50 Points – Fast Forces (Fixed Rarity): 7 Range, Wing Symbol (so she can Carry!) with Phasing, TK, Barrier and Prob top dial with Support on her second click. Her lone keyword (Thunderbolts) is also where she’ll see the most play–on a Thunderbolts team.

The Verdict: Another Cost Correction piece. We won’t see the like of FFCW Scarlet Witch again, methinks. Mercy is missing the Mystics TA AND the Mystical keyword, but she is still very playable. Thunderbolts is probably the keyword that gained the most from this set, so if you’re fielding such a squad, pick up a Mercy for some support in a bottle!

There were also several other figures you could use in this role, but none of them were as good as Mercy (Sister Sercy, I’m looking at you with your 66 Point Cost and your measly lone keyword: Blue Lantern Corps. But hey, at least her name RHYMES with Mercy’s!).

Before we finish, one final note about keywords in general. We’re coming out of an era where Avengers, GCPD and S.H.I.E.L.D. were some of the dominant named keywords, and Mystical, Armor and Monster fueled some of the best generic keyworded teams. Those keywords still offer a lot of options, but Chaos War (an EXTREMELY Avengers-heavy set) rotating out does hurt Avengers teams a little bit. New keywords that have recently become a lot stronger include Thunderbolts, Heroes for Hire and Sinestro Corps. (with Guardians of the Galaxy about to get a double boost from the movie set that just dropped and the upcoming 5-figure booster full set in due in August!). Mystical and Armor are still great generics, but Martial Artist has gotten a big boost between AvX, Days of Future Past and Deadpool, and Cosmic is set to explode with the 4 Entities that have been released in War of Light already (with 4 more to come) and, again, the Guardians of the Galaxy set that’s just around the corner (and the Collector from the GotG Target Exclusive set already offers some intriguing possibilities for Cosmic teams with his unique win condition–but more about that set later this week!)!

"I know it's hard to believe, but all I do is win! If, you know, several specific conditions are met, and I've collected my tokens--y'know what? We'll talk about this later."

“I know it’s hard to believe, but all I do is win! If, you know, several specific conditions are met, and I’ve collected my tokens–y’know what? We’ll talk about this later.”

 

So there ya go! What important retired figures do YOU think WizKids has already published replacements for? Sound of in the Comments section below!

 

Eh… On Second Thought, What the Heck? Go Ahead and Do This, Scott!! (Or, The Build 4, Part 2!!)

"And this is just from indigestion. Imagine what'll happen when I'm really mad."

“THIS is what can happen when you ‘Imagine Dragons!'”

Welcome to Part 2 of our fourth “The Build” column! For information on the game I was building for and the thought process behind why I chose the army I did, click here.

And now that you’re all caught up, Let’s Get Fightin’!!

ROUND 1:

VERSUS: Ninwashui!

FACING:

"Oh look, my shirt's off again."

“Oh look, my shirt’s off again.”

WXM038 Legion – 119

(Assigned a Fragment)

AVX014 Magneto – 200

(Assigned a Fragment)

WXM016 Cyclops – 94

WXM045 Phoenix – 154

(Assigned a Fragment)

The Phoenix Force – 12 + 3

(With the Colossus Fragment Attached)

=600 (Exactly! Nice job, bro!)

FIGHT!

I honestly don’t remember how Ninwashui had his Frags arranged; as it would turn out, it didn’t really matter.

We began by tying on map roll; we rerolled, and I took it. I chose the K’un Lun map. We each advanced slightly on our first turns; on turn two, I unleashed Sentry and Void and Hawkeye (with Mockingbird backing him up for the additional +1 to Attack), and Cyclops was pretty much dead in short order. Ninwa retaliated by having Legion choose good supporting powers like Perplex with his Trait (HIDDEN PERSONALITIES: Give Legion a free action and choose a standard power, then roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled. He acquires a “Personality Quirk” from the table below, and uses that and the standard power until your next turn.1: “Cowardly” Legion modifies his attack value by -2.2: “Confused” Legion modifies his speed and defense values by -1.3: “Grounded” Legion can use Earthbound/Neutralized.4: “Enraged” Legion can use Battle Fury.5: “Compassionate” Immediately heal all adjacent characters 1 click.6: “Savant” Legion modifies his combat values by +1. Choose another standard power and he can also use that power.), and then he hit a Running Shot on Sentry and Void for 5 damage straight through (via her Penetrating/Psychic Blast)! Ouch! After this, though, 2 things happened.

First, I got slightly more conservative with my Sentry and Void placement. Second… poor Ninwashui never hit another roll (at least not after one of my Theme Team Probs or Scarlet Witch’s native Prob). The biggest insult to Ninwa came when he sent Legion on a Hypersonic run at Rookie Mockingbird just to pick up SOME points from the match. I believe at that point he needed a 7 to just straight up KO her; instead, he rolled yet another 3. This ended up as a 600-0 squash, which was not at all where I thought we were headed after the first couple turns.

DECISION:

600-0 Victory.

WHAT I LEARNED:

–I went to the trouble of assigning the Cyclops Fragment to Sentry and Void, and then NEVER used it the whole day. That was a major mistake. It didn’t really cost me, but it wasn’t until the whole tournament was over that I realized that I could have been using RCE IN ADDITION to the bonuses provided by the Phoenix Dial, of which I was much more mindful. Don’t know if it would have made a difference in the grand scheme of things, but I’m sure I took a few second actions with Sentry and Void’s Multi-attack where I was just firing away without using any of the RCE bonuses. Boo hiss on me.

Phoenix was potent offensively, especially in her first 3 clicks, but when she missed her Shape Change roll, Sentry and Void pretty much vaporized her over the course of the next couple turns. Her dial feels like it should be more in the 14o or so point range, which may not seem like a huge difference from the 154 she costs now, but those extra few points actually close of a lot of different build possibilities. I really like this piece, but I’ve never seen her take over a game to the extent that it seems like she should be able to (whether I was playing her or playing against her).

Legion was a real surprise for me. He was extremely useful, even if Ninwashui rolled Battle Fury about 7 out of 10 times. He’s a figure I enjoyed playing against, even if he was really hard to plan for from turn to turn.

WXM016 Cyclops is not a bad figure–he just got eaten up in this environment. For the extra six points, I’d probably prefer the Experienced AvX version, but I know Ninwashui has had terrible luck with that fig, so it didn’t surprise me that he went with a different Cyclops this month.

–200 Point AvX Magneto is good… unless he’s facing a 98 Point Chaos War Hawkeye. With the Phoenix Force slot I was starting on, Hawkeye basically had a 13 Attack, and if I could maneuver Mockingbird into a square adjacent to the one I wanted Hawkeye to end up in during a Running Shot, his attack zoomed up to a 14. This was huge in a couple games, because Magneto’s Defense is really hard to crack. It’s 18 with ES/D to start, and most people who played him gave him a Fragment and left the Colossus Fragment on the resource base, which meant that even if you hit him, Mags had access to BOTH Invuln and his native Invincible (while you can’t use two reducers at the same time, that meant that even if you Outwitted Invincible, he’d still be subtracting 2 from any non-penetrating damage). But after 3 damage, that defense drops from 18 to 16, which is much easier to touch (even with his Traited ES/D still in effect). So I had basically planned on using Hawkeye as a “bunker-buster” this tournament, Perplexing his Damage to 4 and hitting Mags for 2 on Hawkeye’s first attack and 2 more on his second in any game where I saw Buckethead. Didn’t QUITE work out that way this game (ending up targeting Cyclops first), but Hawkeye was still a straight beast. As the build total went up each month, Hawkeye only got better. His Wildcard TA (Spider-Man) meant that his effectiveness would grow as his supporting cast grew. In this build, AvX Scarlet Witch gave him Mystics TA on my opponent’s turns and IM3 Tony Stark gave him Avengers Initiative, one of the best TA’s in the game, which essentially let him target Stealthed figures.

"Eat $#!%, Green Arrow."

“Eat $#!%, Green Arrow. If anyone deserves a show on the CW, it’s–wait, the CW? I don’t want a show on the CW! You know what? Eat you heart out, Oliver.”

All in all, CW039 Hawkeye was pound-for-pound my best performer in Month 4. He’s a 5-Star figure on HCRealms, and he was worth every point I spent to play him. He’s that rare figure who’s really damn good in a multitude of point builds.

ROUND 2:

VERSUS: A (Venue Regular–see below!)

FACING:

Shiny Happy Avengers.

Shiny Happy Avengers.

M10A009 Iron Man – 225

FFCW006R Scarlet Witch – 50

(Assigned a Fragment)

AvX003 Thor – 200

(Assigned a Fragment)

CW039 Hawkeye – 98

The Phoenix Force – 12 + 3

(With the Colossus Fragment Attached)

=600 (I believe that’s how Andrew had his Fragments set–if I’m wrong, I apologize Andrew. A smart man might have taken better notes, but here we are…)

FIGHT!

My second opponent is A, a regular at our venue, Comics & More, and he is a high-level player. While he’s certainly capable of putting together some killer team builds, what he really excels at in my opinion is in-game strategy–specifically, adapting what his team does best to the conditions and positioning on the battlefield. I’ve gone against him several times with what I thought (at least at the time) were better teams only to watch as he picked me apart piece by piece. He also seems to enjoy finding some of the quirkier corners of the game and is a master at using Perplex to get most of his key pieces up to absurdly high Defense levels.

I was very nervous going into this game because A had defeated me with a similar version of this team (he added Hawkeye and the resource, and powered down Scarlet Witch from 75 to 50 Points) in Month 3. I just did not know what I was going to do about M10 Iron Man–I had been praying that I wouldn’t play against one, as both my main AND secondary attacker were using Phoenix Fragments.

I seem to recall that A won Map Roll; regardless of who did, we ended up fighting on the surface of the Moon. A brought his fully powered M10 Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye to the center of the map, setting Hawkeye down in Hindering Terrain. On my turn, I used “No More Mutants” to get rid of his Scarlet Witch’s Mystics TA (so that his Hawkeye couldn’t copy it anymore), then I ran my standard Hawkeye/Mockingbird play and–after Wildcarding Avengers Initiative–smacked his Hawkeye for 3, even though he was Stealthed. Sentry and Void then went to work–and missed twice, after A used up half of his Theme Team probs. Dang.

He countered back by taking out Tony Stark (bye-bye AI TA), but I came right back with Sentry and Void and used Multi-attack to finish off his Hawkeye and get a big blast in on Thor (at that point, I believe my dial had turned to the +1 to Damage, so that hit was about 6 damage straight through). Meanwhile, Mockingbird had tied up M10 Iron Man and even got a hit in with her CCE. Looking at the board, A actually used his Scarlet Witch to attack Sentry and Void–and hit! Then Thor went for the Pulse Wave against Sentry and Void. He needed an 8 at that point I believe to do 5-6 damage, which would have put Sentry and Void on one of its last clicks. He rolled the dice… and he missed! Whew.  M10 Iron Man hit his own Pulse Wave, but with both Mockingbird and Hawkeye within range, he only did 1 damage to each.

On my next turn, Sentry and Void finished off his Thor and Scarlet Witch. A took out Mockingbird, but at this point the match simply became about whittling M10 Iron Man’s Adaptive Armor (ADAPTIVE ARMOR: When Iron Man would take damage from a character assigned a relic or resource, Iron Man ignores that damage and rolls a d6. On a result of 1-3, deal Iron Man 1 unavoidable damage. This ability can’t be ignored.) down with Sentry and Void, Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye. M10 Iron Man lasted FOREVER, but couldn’t really muster any offense, and eventually Andrew missed enough rolls that he was KO’d–he just got out-actioned too badly at that point since it was 3-1. Still, it took forever–A made enough rolls to really flummox my troops with that Trait for a while there.

DECISION:

600-175 (I want to say that he killed Scarlet Witch, and I know he KO’d Tony Stark and Mockingbird. So we’ll go with 175. Yes, I know, a smarter man would have taken better notes!!)

WHAT I LEARNED:

–M10 Iron Man can be dealt with even by figures assigned Resources or Relics, but you need to be EXTREMELY patient and you REALLY need to take out his supporting figs first. Just like Silver Centurion brings his own secondary attacker with his Pulse Bolt Torpedo, M10 Iron Man really sort of brings his own Support team with top dial Perplex and Mid-Dial Outwit to go with his Adaptive Armor Trait.

The scariest gently-swaying -in-the-jetstream piece in the whole tournament!

The scariest “gently-swaying -in-the-jetstream” piece in the whole tournament!

–AvX Thor is great… until he gets hit. Outwit and Pen/Psy are his main weaknesses (aren’t they everyone’s main weakness?). His attack and damage output are great, but his native defense never rises over a 17. A Psychic Blast for even 3 damage can burn through 100 Points of clicks in one hit. That’s why I like his 100 Point dial better than his 200 Point Dial, incidentally.

–A assigned the Emma Frost Fragment to the Scarlet Witch, which was very clever. Most people play the 75-Point version just for her Telekinesis; A realized he could get that TK just by paying about 6 additional Points (3 for the Fragment and 3 for assigning that Fragment to her).

–A brief note about IM3 Tony Stark. For 50 Points, just the fact that he gives you Outwit and Enhancement with 17 Defense and Willpower is pretty damn good. That he can be promoted AND the fact that he provides Avengers Initiative to all your Wildcards is just gravy. One of my favorite pieces from the IM3 set, definitely.

ROUND 3:

VERSUS: B, (another Venue regular and my nemesis from Month 2!)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Nemesis is used rather loosely here, as Comics & More is a pretty friendly environment. Just thought I’d throw that out there.)

(DEADPOOL NOTE: Regarding the Editor’s Note above:

"We've waited 2 extra days already for this recap. How about you GET ON WITH IT?!"

“We’ve waited 2 extra days already for this recap. How about you GET ON WITH IT?!”

End of DeadPool note.)

FACING:

WXM032 Bishop -140

(Assigned a Fragment)

AVX014 Magneto – 200

(Assigned a Fragment)

AVX010 Emma Frost – 125

WXM209 Jean Grey – 100

(Assigned a Fragment)

The Phoenix Force – 12 + 3

(With the Colossus Fragment Attached)

=598 (I wish I could remember who had what Fragment; alas, this is my best guess recreation–B, if you’re reading this, go ahead and let me know what I screwed up in the Comments!)

B is another great local player who’d done well in previous AvX tourneys, so I knew I’d have my work cut out for me. His teams are usually pretty innovative, and like A, he enjoys exploring some of the weirder sides of team building. Having said that, this was a downright normal team for him, and after Map Choice was decided (he won, and we ended up back in K’un Lun), he moved his force up and sat Magneto in one of the printed Hindering Terrain squares on the first level. I countered with my “Hawkeye” bunker buster strategy and conglomerated around the other bit of printed Hindering Terrain that was just a few squares away from the one Mags was in and hit (albeit only for a small amount–only 1-2 damage) to open up the attacking, and we were off and running! On his turn, he started maneuvering the rest of his team into the fray, and I followed that by continuing to chip away at Magneto with Hawkeye and Sentry and Void. Soon I scored the KO on Mags (along with the early advantage), but it cost me Tony Stark (who I’d moved forward to counter Mags’s Invincible).

The tables started to turn my opponents way, and soon he had KO’d Scarlet Witch and Mockingbird as well, and while I had damaged just about everyone but Bishop, I hadn’t KO’d anyone else. Jean Grey was showing Support at that point, so I took her out with Sentry and Void, but it left him in a precarious position, and B. took advantage of that by plugging him for a decent chunk of damage. Eventually I managed to take out Emma Frost, but it cost me Sentry and Void when B. countered with a pretty Phoenix’d out Bishop. At that point the dial was showing +2 to all stats plus Hypersonic Speed.

The end of the game came down to Hawkeye still on first click and the Phoenix Force providing him with +2 to Attack and Hypersonic Speed, which was perfect because Bishop was down to either his last click or his second to last click, and trying to hit him from range was just asking for trouble. My opponent moved Bishop to temporary safety, and I had to move across the map to get into position for a Hypersonic strike, which I did… right as the Judge called time. As I went second to start the game, that meant that the game ended with my last move that turn. B. almost didn’t realize he had won, and announced that he was clearing Bishop. I almost had to shake him to tell him he’d won.

It was an extremely close match, and I can’t say for certain I would have come out on top even if time hadn’t ended. The way things sat, I would have needed about a 5 to KO Bishop with a close combat HSS strike (Hawkeye’s modified attack at that point was 14 while Bishop’s modified Defense was 19 (16 +2 from the resource plus resource granted Perplex +1 =19). Certainly not impossible, but not a gimme either.

I came close, but B’s team (or more accurately, his skilled play) turned out to be too much for me. He won the tourney; with about 1658 points (out of a possible 1798 or something like that), I finished 2nd, leaving me with finishes of 2, 1, 2 and 2 for the whole event. The Judge assigned Player Points to every competitor each month based on attendance, points earned and final place.

With the Month Four win, B… finished ONE Player Point behind me. It really could not have been any closer. He played a great game, had a great four months, and had he taken the top prize, he certainly would have been worthy. Congrats to him for winning the month and go home with a Phoenixbuster Iron Man (who may make some noise at a ROC–this isn’t the last you’ll here of Peanut Butter PB Iron Man).

"Hey, HypeFox--you missed me, @$$hole."

“Hey, HypeFox–you missed me, @$$hole.”

WHAT I LEARNED:

–Bishop plus the Phoenix Force is pretty damn formidable. His Trait (TIMESLIDE: Once per game, give Bishop a double power action to use Phasing/Teleport. When you do, he can use Probability Control until your next turn, and after actions resolve, you may give him a close or ranged combat attack as a free action.) can completely shift the balance of power in a game if used judiciously.

–Sentry and Void is sick and wrong, especially in a Build format where he has enough points left to field a pretty good support squad. Multi-attack has been slightly nerfed in the last year or so, but it’s still so powerful that you ONLY TEND TO SEE IT ON COLOSSALS WHO ARE MORE THAN 500 POINTS! A regular fig who’s 300 even? That’s still really good. Even Dark Phoenix Cyclops at 300 Points doesn’t have Multi-attack!

–WXM Gravity Feed Jean Grey is damn good!

–Going in, I thought Emma Frost would be a pain to deal with, but she ended up being beatable every month I played her. While she could be a pest with her Mind Control and Outwit, I mostly left her alone whenever I played her until most of her teammates were gone. She didn’t wasn’t as formidable as I thought she would be going in.

And now, after four months of blood sweat and tears of playing Heroclix:

THE SPOILS:

"My Precioussss...."

“My Precioussss….”

And:

Blocky, The Forgotten Go-Bot.

Blocky, The Forgotten Go-Bot.

 

Take it easy everyone, and thanks for your patience. Back next week with some new stuff, including a final wrap-up of AvX wherein we’ll rate the best and worst pieces (now that we finally know the whole set), and keep an eye out for the Top 1o Deadpool figures, which should definitely drop before the end of the month!

I Can’t Let You Do This, Scott!! (Or, The Build 4!!)

"RIght then. Who's next?"

“WHO’S behind me? Psh. Yeah, like I’d fall for that again.”

 

Annnnnnnd, welcome back! This is the Build 4, where I run down my options for a specific game build, choose one, and then take you through how my choices turned out during the event itself! As you might have guessed from the picture above, today we’ll be talking about Avengers Versus X-Men: Month 4, where Phoenixbuster Iron Man and Dark Phoenix Cyclops will be up for grabs!!

Prep:

Okay!! Leading into the last month of AvX, I’ve finished 2nd, 1st (click here and here for Build coverage of Month 2!) and 2nd respectively at the first three AvX tourneys, so I’m in the running for the Dark Phoenix Cyclops overall grand prize along with Ninwashui and a couple others at my venue! So I’ve got to come up with something awesome! Here we go!

The Game: AvX Month 4

The Stipulations: 600 Points, Modern Age. Must use at least one figure from an AvX starter; the rest of your army must share a keyword with that figure (I have the Avengers starter). Only Phoenix Force Relics and Resources are allowed (but we don’t yet have access to the Magik Fragment; that final piece is one of the participation prizes for this month, so the Phoenix Force can have a maximum of 4 Fragments).

The Build:

My first idea was to go back to what won me Month 2 (which was really Month 1, yadayadayada)–a “Mystical” Theme Team:

"I'd like your resource better if it glowed blue, but I'll take it all the same."

“I’d like your resource better if it glowed blue, but I’ll take it all the same.”

Team: Loki Charms

IIM051 Iron Pharaoh – 110

AVM211 Loki – 201

(Assigned Cyclops Fragment)

AVX006E Scarlet Witch – 100

IIM040 Shaman – 92

(with Alpha Flight ATA)

Thule Society Priest – 21

Astral Dr. Strange – 13

(Smoke Cloud version)

Astral Dr. Strange – 13

(Smoke Cloud Version)

The Phoenix Force – 12 + 9

(With the Colossus, Namor & Emma Frost Fragments Attached)

=600 (Exactly! Woo-hoo!)

What I Like About This Team:

I love playing Iron Pharaoh. I almost always have good results with him, and I need a good result this month. And I really like playing the Pharaoh with Shaman, even when many of Shaman’s potential “No Flight” victims will still fly just fine with the Phoenix Force, at least I’d take away their ability to Carry. Plus, I’m bound to run into some flyers who won’t be assigned a Fragment, right? Additionally, with the Alpha Flight ATA, there are matchups (against a team of, say, X-Men) where Shaman is going to sport an 11 Attack, 3 Damage and 7 Range top dial before he evens decides on what he wants to do with his Perplex. That’s not a bad tertiary attacker.

AVM Loki is a beast. He just needs a little help with finding a way to move and attack in the same turn (for just how beastly he gets with the Phoenix Force, click here). The Priest is just there for tie-up fodder/Prob Control, and the Astral Dr. Stranges are ridiculously meddlesome for just 13 points apiece. Plus, every attack my opponent wastes on one of them is one not directed at the Pharaoh or Loki.

With a +7 (!) to Map Roll, this team was pretty well rounded with two big hitters and a TON of trickeration. With 2 different characters (the Pharaoh and Loki) possessing some sort of special Mind Control and 6 Theme Probs to go with the Scarlet Witch’s native Prob (and with Shaman, Loki and Thule Society Priest all able to pick up Prob down dial), my opponents will probably be rerolling a LOT. Loki charms, indeed.

What I Don’t Like About This Team:

Not much. It’s pretty well-rounded, and even if Loki goes down I’ve still got some decent damage dealing pieces left. One thing that irked me with this build is not being able to give the Cyke Fragment to Iron Pharaoh. I’d like this army a whole lot better if I had access to all 5 Fragments. I’d dump the Alpha Flight ATA and add in Iron Pharaoh as an Assigned Character. Then he’d be able to shoot for at least 5 damage through his Falcon AND Loki could still have Running Shot (because the Phoenix Force would still start on the “3 Attached Fragments” tier of its dial). This may be a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water, but the thought of Iron Pharaoh with that Cyclops Fragment teaming with a Running Shot-capable Loki would haunt me every game. It’s a little, stupid thought, but it would have the potential to linger in my mind and nag and distract me during each game–and I’m not nearly a good enough player to win against good players while I’m distracted.

So I was kind of uneasy about this army until my prep for this Build took a dramatic turn on Easter. My brother presented me with a special gift (yeah, me and my bro still do a small gift exchange–we’re dorks like that, but, since you’re reading a blog dedicated to ‘Clixin’, you probably already surmised that) in the monstrous form of…

"Hello, tasties..."

“Hello, tasties…”

 

… The Chaos War Chase piece Sentry and Void!!

In addition to being probably my favorite character created in the Modern era of comics, the Sentry is also usually an Avenger, so I’d been dying to play him in some form during this tournament. Well, when I received Sentry and Void, I knew I’d have to go out of my way to include him somehow. I grabbed his card praying that he’d have a keyword in common with one of the AvX Starter figures. I knew he’d probably have the Dark Avengers keyword, which wouldn’t really help me, but maybe he’d have a Mystical keyword too. It was a long shot, but then I turned his card over to its front side and had a look. There it was!! The very first keyword:

Avengers.

A selfie I took the second I found out that Sentry and Void has the Avengers keyword.

A selfie I took the second I found out that Sentry and Void has the Avengers keyword.

Not only does Rob Reynolds and his Dark Half have Hypersonic Speed and Multi-attack, but he also has… the AVENGERS keyword! This is both Awe and Some!!

And, somehow fitting, I think. Forget these namby-pamby generic keywords! This is Avengers Vs. X-Men–and come hell or high water, I’m gonna play an Avengers Theme Team, dammit (EDITOR’S NOTE: This sort of pretentiously righteous team-building bravado is made MUCH easier by being able to field a 300-point monster like Sentry and Void. At the event itself, when I turned in my Build card, the Judge casually wondered if I’d left my soul at home when he saw Sentry and Void on the list. And really, it was a fair question.) !

No more bad thoughts tugging at my brain of what could have been; I’m building everything around Sentry and Void!

"Go home, Void! You're drunk!"

“Calm down, bud! Hawkeye’s actually on your team!”

Team: A Void and the Noid

CW057 Sentry and Void – 300 (A Void)

(Assigned the Cyclops Fragment)

CW039 Hawkeye – 98 (The Noid)

(Assigned the Emma Frost Fragment)

AVX006E Scarlet Witch – 100

FFCW005R Mockingbird – 25

IM3006 Tony Stark – 50

The Phoenix Force – 12 + 3

(With the Colossus Fragment Attached)

=600 (Exactly! Again! Woo-hoo!)

What I Like About This Team:

Hmmm… well, I like that I get to play a ridiculously overpowered Chase piece AND assign the Phoenix Force to him. Annnnnnd I like that I get to back him up with that Chaos War Hawkeye, who has ridiculous offensive potential when you combine him with that rookie Mockingbird and the Phoenix Force resource (if I position my team correctly, when the time comes for him to take his first shot every game, he’ll take it with a 14 Attack–that’s AWESOME!). Scarlet Witch provides a ton of Support herself, and Tony Stark gives the team an Outwit that can see through Hindering Terrain, Enhancement and the Avengers Initiative Team Ability so that Hawkeye can see through Hindering himself! Plus, I’ll get a +5 to Map Roll AND five Theme Probs. Not bad!

What I Don’t Like About This Team:

Even with the Theme Probs, I don’t have a ton of trickeration (ie support powers), so if Hawkeye and Sentry and Void start missing, I could be in trouble. Additionally, Experienced AvX Scarlet Witch is no slouch in the attack department, but as a tertiary attacker in a 600 point game, she makes me nervous (her Precision Strike should help that though). Still, though… I’d get to play Sentry and Void!!

Alrighty then! I have my team, and everything is up for grabs! To find out how this team performed, what I learned and what I earned (if anything)…

Little known Keanu Reeves movie. You can find more info on Keanu's IMDB page under the heading "Oh, God, this was actually a thing?"

Little known Keanu Reeves movie. You can find more info on Keanu’s IMDB page under the heading “Oh, God, this was actually a thing?”

 

TUNE IN TOMORROW for The Build 4: Part 2!!

(Yeah, I’m a #$%^ like that. But you won’t have to wait long, I promise!)

See ya’ll tomorrow!