META Diary: December ROC Win-A-Map!!

[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

RoC November 2019.jpg

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.

Restricted Win-A-Map

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.

WIN-A-MAP FORMAT

  • 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
500

Suffering the Onslaught

Onslaught images

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:

  1. (☆TRAIT) BEHIND THE SCENES: Onslaught can’t be targeted by opposing characters 5 or more squares away.
  2. (☆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.
  3. (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.
  4. (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.
  5. Improved Targeting: Hindering and Characters with nine range and three targets.
  6. 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.jpg

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:

  1. (☆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.
  2. (☆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.
  3. (SPECIAL DAMAGE) SO FALLS THE REALM OF LIGHT: Opposing characters within 6 squares that can use Outwit, Perplex or Support can use Battle Fury.
  4. Improved Targeting: Hindering
  5. Quintessence Team Ability
  6. Giant

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.

The Director

aug180908__82487.1538762497

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:

  1. (☆ TRAIT) BEHIND THE SCENES: Mojo can’t be targeted by opposing characters 5 or more squares away.
  2. (☆ 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.
  3. (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

Venom Cap

The minute Captain Venom was introduced, the monster keyword got a huge bump. Let’s breakdown why:

  1. (☆ TRAIT) ALIEN SYMBIOTE: Plasticity, Shape Change. Captain Venom automatically breaks away.
  2. (☆ 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.
  3. (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.

The Human

Prez Rickard.jpg

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:

  1. (☆ TRAIT) EVERYONE’S FAVORITE TEENAGE PRESIDENT: Prez Rickard doesn’t count for or against themed teams.
  2. (☆ 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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. ZERO (MANDARIN RING). I would equip this to Prez Rickard to give him Barrier. He could generate 1 Barrier marker for FREE.

Swiss Rounds

Phoenix Mags.jpg

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.

Loki.jpg

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.

Thanos UC

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

Progenitus.jpg

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.

I’m The Best There Is at What I Do… And What I Do Is Lose to the Best!! (Or, Local Tourney Report: ROC Super Qualifier – Eternal Games in Warren, Michigan 10/01/2016)

ROC

While I still play every week or so, in general my family duties don’t allow me to attend some of the bigger HeroClix events. However, on the night before the ROC SQ in Warren, Michigan, I was able to rearrange my schedule to where I had a mostly free day on Saturday.  My only real problem was that I needed to make an ultra-competitive team for a big field of Meta players and I had only a few hours to dream something up.

Still, I had a few ideas floating around in my head:

  • A Pro-Registration team with CWSOP102 Iron Man, CWSOP008 Wasp, and CWSOP020 Jack O’Lantern. I figured if I threw Jocasta and Eclipso on the first two they would be nearly unkillable and Jester was just there to gum up the works. Add in a full Pandora’s Box and that’s 300. [EDITOR’S NOTE: How is “Nearly Unkillable” NOT the title of a straight-to-video Steven Seagal and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme movie? It’s not. I checked. But it definitely SHOULD be!]
  • A Wild Card Team with SFSM049 Spider-Man, AOU007 Yellowjacket, SMWW055P Eclipso, FFJLTW007 Atomica, WF062R Batman and a full Pandora’s Box to make 300. Yellowjacket at full size is a surprisingly capable Taxi. Each attacker had Perplex and Batman could suck up a CSA Team Ability action token each turn with no ill effects.
  • A Soldier team with SMWW065R Superman, CWSOP101 Captain America, UXM057P Proteus, NFAOS062 Captain America’s Motorcycle, SMWWG006P War Wheel (or the Atom), and a full Pandora’s box to make 300.  Sadly I didn’t have a War Wheel or Atom that I could get my hands on in time…
  • The Sinister Syndicate Team I detailed in my Top 10 Article for The Superior Foes of Spider-man. Nearly that exact team took second in an ROC Qualifier down south a few weeks ago.

While I felt those were all at least viable builds (“viable” meaning I’d at least have a chance against most matchups I’d see), I ended up going a different way. So who did I play?

In a way I was forced into the final roster I chose because the only Colossal Retaliation Figure I owned was Titano and I felt Colossal Retaliation would be big on the competitive scene (as it turned out, I was right–Colossals literally LITTERED the field). Since I wanted to play Theme, I was slightly limited by Titano’s keywords. Probably a backwards way into army building, but that’s where I was.

I wanted something that would be really fun for me to play, too. Well, my favorite two HeroClix mechanics are token generation and Stop Clicks. I also wanted multiple attackers and in my opinion Klarion is far and away the best figure in the 60-90 point range I was looking at for the Animal theme. I’d argue he might be the best 70 point figure ever. Still, I needed a Primary figure with the Animal keyword to anchor the Klarions and Titano around.

Arriving at the SQ:

I saw a lot of interesting teams when I showed up. A guy from my venue had a combo team with Black Swan (which seemed like a good idea, but I heard did not go that well). Another guy used some borrowed pieces to play a team centered around CWSOP101 Captain America and CWSOP102 Iron Man (he mentioned later that he didn’t suffer many KOs in his games, but the games were slow and low scoring.) Looking around the room I saw a team made almost entirely of Ultron Drones along with 3 SMWWG003P Brimstone, and a SMWWG004P Solaris. The Colossals were lined up like missiles (just like I talked about doing way back in my Superman Wonder Woman Top 10 article). In general Colossals were on most teams, there weren’t as many KC figures as I would have thought, and one particular figure showed up on a lot of teams… including mine!

devildinosaur

It turns out SFSM054 Devil Dinosaur was on a lot of the top teams. Part of that could have been the fact that the entire world championship team that designed him showed up and was playing him, but in general he was on a lot of different teams. As the day went on I could also see that he was on a lot of teams that WON, including the eventual overall winner. I barely remember seeing Devil Dinosaur in the standings of the last ROC.

So, my final roster was:

Team Name: Pokémon Trainers (Animal Theme)

WF046 Klarion the Witch-Boy

WF046 Klarion the Witch-Boy

SFSM054 Devil Dinosaur

SMWWG005P Titano

JLTWR101 Pandora’s Box (Full)

Total = 300 Points

And off I went!

rules-lawyering

Round 1 VS. A new player from Flint, MI (name unknown):

I remember talking to this guy after we finished our match and he was a real nice guy. He’d only started playing about 6 months previous to our match. Unfortunately, things didn’t go his way. His team was good and his tactics weren’t bad, but this was a bad matchup for him. That combined with good dice for me and bad dice for him meant that I took the win. I score 300 points for the round.

This was actually my first big HeroClix tournament in forever. Before this I had only done local shop play and Battle Royals. In the back of my mind I was worried that all I would face would be “rules lawyers” all day. So this was good friendly opening match to get rid of any nervousness.

aquaman

Or just unite two of me!

Round 2 VS. A Younger Player from Toronto, CA (name unknown)

This round I faced a team with BVS006 Aquaman, FFBVS004R Aquaman, three 30 point Ultron Drones, and a Round Table. In my wildest imagination I never believed I would face an Aquaman today, much less 2. The Drones and Round Table were more of what I expected.

If I had won Map Roll (I had +4 to my roll versus his nothing), this would have been a much easier game. Of course I lost. So now I am fighting 2 Aquamen on a map of entirely water terrain that gives swimmers improved movement and +2 speed.

His force came at me in two waves. The Aquamen came at me first while the Drones slowly advanced. To start off he did a couple of hit and runs with Hypersonic Speed versus the Klarions and Devil  Dinosuar. He made it hard to strike back by using free action Barrier with the other Aquaman to block himself into a corner. He couldn’t attack Titano because of Titano’s Plasticity. It took me a few turns to remember that Devil could see right over the barrier since he was a giant and we were on an outdoor map. So I popped out both Teekl’s and used their Perplex to pump up Devil’s Damage Value to 5 and had him attack the Hypersonic Aquaman directly.

It was near that time that the Ultron Drones got in range and popped out a Nick Fury. Nick took away Devil’s defensive ability and hit him for 4 damage. I forgot about Devil’s second type of stop click on click 4 and clicked him to click 5 instead. Then both Aquamen followed up and KOed him.

I responded by dropping an angry Titano on the Ultron Drones the next turn. That didn’t go as well as I had hoped. After his first attack dealt 1 damage to each drone, Titano was KOed by future Ultron’s power, “SPIKES AND CRACKLING ENERGY: Ultron can use Poison and deals penetrating damage while using it. If Ultron possesses this power after taking damage from an attack, deal the attacker 1 unavoidable damage.

Thankfully even after Devil Dinosaur was KOed, the Klarions (and one Teekl) empowered by the Box were able to mop up the entire opposing team. In fact, I don’t believe they took any damage after that point. I score 300 points for the round.

Zatara 2

Round 3 VS. Tom Kerr from the Meta Lab

Tom was the eventual first place finisher and he played like it. He was very methodical, but also still very friendly. I lost, but didn’t feel bad about it.

His team was SFSM054 Devil Dinosaur, FFUXM002 Jean Grey, WF048 Zatara (played forward), War Wheel, and a Full round table. Of course I lose map roll. So he takes us to a map with the smallest amount of hindering terrain I have ever seen on a map. Almost none for my Klarions to hide in.

Turn one he has Devil call in Nightwing who brings out Tony Zucco and this advances the Round Table. Then he uses the Wheel to carry his Devil up. I respond by equipping a Klarion with Wrath and then passing. I was thinking that he was going to have to come to me. I was wrong.

On turn two he uses Jean to TK out Zatara. Zatara calls in Green Arrow and uses his Perplex to up green arrows attack to 14. Tony Zucco ups his Damage by one. Green Arrow uses running shot and easily KOs Titano, hurts Devil, and a Klarion. Then Jean Grey simply teleports Zatara back to the starting area. It’s then that I realize the situation I am in. He doesn’t have to come to me. He can hurt me while most of his characters are in his starting area; I have to take my team and go to him or I will lose the game without making an attack.

I move my Klarions up at full speed and my Devil Dinosaur moves up slowly. His Devil Dinosaur is now in the middle of the map and it makes tokens that together with the figure make an incredibly effective roadblock. As I kill his tokens that just advances his table a click or two each KO. He doesn’t really need need them to do damage. They just need to get in the way.

Two turns after the Green Arrow attack Hawkeye shows up and takes out my healthiest Klarion with the exact same starting area TK trick. Somehow I get all the way to his starting area and can attack, but he is already well into power 2 on the Round Table. It states, “I CAN’T GET THERE, BUT I CAN ADVISE: At the beginning of your turn, you may choose an ID Card attached to this resource that you didn’t choose last time. Until your next turn, friendly characters can use the Inspiration of that ID Card.” That combined with the inspirations on the Superman and Wonder Man cards means all of his characters can use Invincible their entire dial every single turn. So even if I had hit Jean Grey I couldn’t have done much. Not that it mattered because my dice revolted on me at that point. My opponent suggested that I throw them out after the game. I should have listened.

My Klarions and Teekls die before Devil Dinosaur can effectively threaten the other team. So it’s just him versus the entire other team. I have some fun taking on his Devil Dinosaur token army versus my token army, but after a couple of turns of that his round table clicks to the end and he spits out a full point Martian Manhunter. I end up only KOing the War Wheel, some Devil tokens, and Tony Zucco (after missing him once). I score 45 points for the round.

arcade

Round 4 VS. Local Player Adam

Adam is well known in the SE Michigan area and I have seen him at every major event I ever attended. He even helped judge the Battle Royals at the Gen Con I attended. He’s very friendly. The winner of our match would make the top 16. The loser might not.

He was playing SFSM054 Devil Dinosaur, a 30 point Ultron drone, UXM018 Vanisher, SMWWG004P Solaris, AVAS044 Arcade, and the Round Table (featuring Nick Fury, Green Arrow, and Spider-Man).

He had an interesting trick built into his team that quite frankly I would like to copy in the future. We did the map roll and he lost. Arcade is pretty bad when he is not on his own map so Adam used a Round table power I have never seen used before, “I’M BETTER SUITED FOR THESE FOES: After revealing your force but before placing characters in your starting area, you may replace a friendly character on your force with an ID Character of equal or less points from your sideline. That character is no longer an ID Character and its ID Card is removed from this resource.” Suddenly that nearly useless arcade was a CWSOP108 Spider-Man.

The Map I picked had lots of walls and made moving up difficult. I stayed near my starting area and kept putting on Sin Relics. I was able to equip 4 before the battle started in earnest. He used Vanisher to take Spider-Man and 3 Devil tokens and they all based my Titano. My devil was close enough to spawn Homocide Crabs, but I was not careful with how close I placed one to Titano and my attack KOed him while it did 1 damage to to the 5 opposing characters. That was my first placement mistake this game.

I had taken out the tokens and a teekl took out vanisher without an issue. When his Solaris retaliated a low roll meant I only lost one crab Token. Unfortunately at that point my rolls turned on me again and they would stay awful for the rest of the game. I spent two turns with my whole force just missing Spider-man. By then his devil was close enough to Call in Green Arrow and that was the turning point. Green Arrow did 1 to my devil and 3 to each of the Klarion hiding in stealth right next to him. That was my second placement error this game.

A turn later his Devil summoned some Rockabilly Modoks and hit my Devil past his bystander summoning clicks. Fearing a Nick Fury Call in next turn I charged in with my Devil and took out his Ultron Drone. That’s where I made my third placement mistake. I could have based all three Modoks and denied him Psychic Blast, but I missed it. On his turn his Devil attacked me and knocked my Devil past Invulnerability and his unbased Modok put my Devil on his last click. I had Regeneration and a use of Probability Control from Teekl. I rolled two 1s in a row and the next turn my Devil was KOed.

After that his Table reached power three and Nick Fury came out and KOed a Klarion. We battled back and forth and as time was called I just had a Teekl left and he had a heavily injured Devil Dinosaur. I scored 190 points just missing out on Devil and two cards.

Conclusion:

At the end of 4 rounds I had scored 835. They posted everyone’s scores and cut the tournament down to just the top 16 at this point. I was ranked as #17. The 16th ranked player had 845 points. I lost by 10 points.

After that I dropped and played Jay Solomon (Meta Lab, Married with Clix, 2 Clicks from KO) and George Massau in the first battle royal of the day. The bad rolls continued and I finished fourth. The good news? HypeFox showed up right after my Battle Royal, won the Battle Royal he joined (by pulling, of all things, a Devil Dinosaur)… and actually ended up with worse prizes winning his heat than I did by losing mine.

superheroes-laughing

Takeaways:

  1. My biggest mistake was made in building my team. As the 3rd and 4th rounds proved the Round Table is far superior with Devil Dinosaur and I think just superior in general.
  2. At any major tournament anyone plays in the near future I will need to have a plan for Devil Dinosaur. Calling in Green Arrow and Nick Fury worked the best today.
  3. I am totally going to use that Arcade trick soon (Thanks Adam!).

Say Geronimo! (Or, The Weekly Roundup for 11/23/2014!!)

Roundup

Hello again! It’s been a solid month since we last rounded up everything there is to, y’know, round up! And, given that Thanksgiving is just about here, I figured everyone could use a Turkey Day Roundup!

So what’s been going on this last 30 days? Well, War of Light is finally done (at least at most venues); The Flash has finally released (after just a one week delay); and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies should finally be out now at a Target or hobby store near you (or be coming very soon–depends on where you live, it seems).

All of which means we have a lot to talk about, so let’s get going with…

THE WEEKLY ROUNDUP!!

 

Microphone

PODCASTS:

Dial H

Dial H for Heroclix is new every week; last week, in Episode 71, they opened up their Meta Toolbox to talk about all the Modern Age resources in the context of the Meta! And as a special Holiday bonus, they’ve ALREADY released Episode 72!

Yours truly was lucky enough to finish in the Top 4 of their Dial Design contest this month; if you want to get in on the action, December’s Dial Design should start around November 30th.

This is Ultimate Play, b!tches!

–As far as I can tell, Episode 27 is still the most recent ep of The Quarry. The ROC tab on HCRealms has a link to upcoming events and vaguely mentions an Episode 28, but damned if I can find it!

"We're a Thing again!"

–Well, just as quickly as they came back, ClixCast seems to have gone away! They have yet to release an October or November ep, but you can catch their August and September offerings right here!

 

Welcome... to the ROC!

–You can find the latest ROC tourney announcements right here!

 

Preview

–Just announced on the Heroclix.com Downloads tab: there is going to be a “Spider-Man Symbiotes” Monthly Op Kit in May of next year! Looks like there’ll be 3 different versions of Venom!

–No other current Previews, but that’s to be expected as they JUST released Flash. I’d expect no real previews until WizKids’s annual 12 Days of Clix-Mas promotion, where we’ll get a look at next year’s offerings like Justice League: Trinity War, Avengers Assemble and both Avengers: Age of Ultron offerings!

 

Army of the Week

Army of the Week:

So, we’ve gone on and on about the new R.O.C. Format, but sometimes I think we don’t put enough emphasis on choosing the best supporting characters for the Primary Attacker that you’ve chosen. Let’s take a look at how adding or subtracting a single supporting character can drastically alter a Build in this environment!

First, let’s look at the Iron Pharaoh Build from ROC’ing the Meta 2: Electric Boogaloo!

"Oh! Golden Falcon, no! I just polished this armor!"

“NO! Golden Falcon, I just polished this armor!”

Team Name: Slowness as a Way of Death!!

Theme: None (Not Allowed in current R.O.C. Format)

Map Choice Preference: Ryut (from War of Light Month 6)

Roster:

IIM051 Iron Pharaoh 110 Points

IIM040 Shaman 92

DP020 Weasel27

FI001 Thule Society Priest21

FL031 Turtle 50

=300 Points

What This Build Does:

It slows everything down!! Which, as everyone knows by now, is fantastic for pieces like Iron Pharaoh and Fantomex (who can’t really be played in the current format because E.V.A. is a bystander token, which is illegal in “No Tactics” formats). But the fact that Shaman disables flying and Turtle limits people to moving just 4 squares or less (unless they want to take an additional action token) is just an insane combo. And if you win Map Roll (which will happen roughly 50% of the time, since there are no Themed Team Bonuses), Ryut should be a nightmare for most teams you’ll face. Weasel is the best supporting piece (offers a very limited Prob, +1 to Attack and Range and Enhancement) in the game for Ranged-based attackers, and Thule Society Priest is just there to get pushed into another Prob’r.

Okay, now that we know what the default Build does, let’s change the roster a bit!

This is what's known as a 'Dark Future.' (See what I did there?)

This is what’s known as a ‘Dark Future.’ (See what I did there?)

Team Name: “She Blinded Me With Science!

Theme: None (Not Allowed in current R.O.C. Format)

Map Choice Preference: Ryut (from War of Light Month 6)

Roster:

IIM051 Iron Pharaoh 110 Points

IIM040 Shaman 92

FL031 Turtle 50

SLOSH004 Science Police Officer 45

=297 Points

What This Build Does (Differently): This is a Ninwashui variant. Okay, so we lost our main supporting piece (Weasel) and our secondary supporting/tie-up piece (Thule Society Priest), but we added Science Police Officer. What does this do? Well, it slows down the damage Iron Pharaoh can do by about 20%-25% (basically 3 instead of 4). You can make up for this a little bit by constantly keeping Shaman within range and line of fire of Iron Pharaoh, so he can use his Perplex there. But Science Police Officer combos really brutally with Turtle. Science Police Officer’s top dial Damage Special (TACTICAL DEPLOYMENT: When an opposing character within 8 squares is given a free action, if that character has been given a non-free action this turn, after actions resolve, deal that character 1 unavoidable damage.) means that your opponents best attackers are at risk of shutting themselves down before you even attack them!

Let’s run down everything your opponent has to deal with BEFORE you’ve even attacked them (assuming they don’t Copycat away Shaman–which is an unlikely matchup, but not an impossible one):

1. They can’t fly (after Shaman’s “No Flights” ability goes off);

2. They can’t move more than 4 squares at a time UNLESS they want to take a second action token or take 1 Penetrating Damage.

3. If they do try and burst through with one big move and attack (via Charge, Running Shot, Hypersonic Speed, etc.), they take an UNAVOIDABLE DAMAGE in addition to the extra action token/penetrating damage from Turtle!

With all this SLOWNESS going on, you should have plenty of time to get your Golden Falcon into position to start dropping 3 Damage Outwit Bombs!

 

What We’ve Learned:

While both Builds should be competitive no matter who you play, the first Build is fairly aggressive in terms of lining up its shots (with Weasel, Shaman and the available Probs, you’re trying to line up a 4-5 Damage shot that won’t miss after Outwitting a character’s Defense slot).

The second Build is more of a “take the opportunities that my opponent gives me” sort of army, where you’re basically turning the whole map into a spider’s web and waiting for your opponent to get themselves “stuck” (double-tokened and damaged).

That’s two nearly identical Builds with two significantly different styles of play based solely on which supporting character you choose to use!

 

Hooray for Hollllllywooood!!

–Just in case May 2015 wasn’t going to be a busy enough month for Marvel fans (Avengers 2: Age of Ultron; a ton of different Marvel Heroclix sets), that’s also the month that is currently set to be the premiere month for Daredevil, the first of Marvel’s new Netflix shows.

Let’s take a look at the vital stats!

Show: Daredevil

Showrunner: Drew Goddard (first two episodes); Steven S. DeKnight (current showrunner)

Known Regular Cast:

Daredevil/Matt Murdock: Charlie Cox

Karen Page: Deborah Ann Wolf

Foggy Nelson: Elden Hensen

Wilson Fisk/Kingpin: Vincent D’Onofrio

Claire Temple/Night Nurse (?): Rosario Dawson

Vanessa Marianna: Ayelet Zurer

Known Notable Guest Stars/Recurring Cast:

Stick: Scott Glenn

Ben Urich: Vondie Curtis-Hall

Leland Owlsley: Bob Gunton

Hachiro: Peter Shinkoda

Daredevil will go for at least one season of 13 episodes, with the character currently expected to play a major role in a planned “Defenders” mini-series which would feature all of Marvel’s Hells Kitchen-based heroes teaming up in an Avengers-like fashion.

It is entirely too early to know whether we’ll get a second season of Daredevil and/or when that would premiere. As of now, even the “Defenders” show is somewhat theoretical; if they four lead-up series bomb, you can bet Marvel and Netflix will find a way to can the mini-series.

On the other hand, if Daredevil is wildly successful (and only Netflix and Disney will really have any idea, since digital distribution success is almost impossible for folks outside the industry to determine), I’d expect Marvel to go ahead with both “The Defenders” AND a second season of Daredevil. And possibly even start added some mystical heroes to the Netflix slate, starting with Blade and Ghost Rider.

–The second Marvel Netflix series after Daredevil will be the as-yet-unofficially-titled Jessica Jones series. Casting has begun, with rumors swirling around who will play both Jessica Jones AND recurring guest star (and star of Marvel’s third Netflix series) Luke Cage!!

For the next Weekly Roundup, I’m going to start compiling season-long episode guides of current genre TV shows, starting with…

 

Gotham Title

 

 

Local Tournament Report

Upcoming Local Events:

Annnnd, welcome back to the latest feature category for the Weekly Update–Upcoming Local Events!

For any who have forgotten, this is the spot where we’ll post a few notices about interesting upcoming games at venues in and around Southeastern Michigan, where Critical Missives is based. If any venue would like us to announce an upcoming event anywhere in the country, you can hit us up on Twitter or let us know via feedback to this very post!

–RIW Hobbies in Livonia is hosting a Sealed Draft of War of Light on 12/05!!

–If you’re looking to try D&D Attack Wing, Month One of the Tyranny of Dragons OP is happening at Eternal Games in Warren on 12/06.

–Annnd, one week later, Eternal Games is running a really cool event that they’re calling War of Light: Month 7! This will happen on 12/13 @ 1pm, and will feature a 600-Point Constructed tournament as well as Battle Royal side events throughout the day!

 

Wait--it's already listing this post!! Huh?! Whaa?! Must be magic!!

Critical Missives:

–We were ROC’ing the Meta this past couple weeks. Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here!

Coming up in the next week, we should have a Comics & More War of Light: Month 6 Battle Report PLUS both my AND Ninwashui’s Flash Top Ten Reviews!

And that’s it for this week!! Until then, stay safe, and watch where you draw those lines of fire!

ROC’ing the Meta 2: Electric Boogaloo!! (Or, a Look at the Top Meta Figures for the 2014-2015 ROC Season!)

ROC

Okay! So it’s been awhile since I wrote anything that wasn’t a Weekly Roundup (or that had the “Electric Boogaloo” subtitle!), and I noticed that we really haven’t addressed the new ROC season format in any real detail yet. Well, that changes today!!

In this article, we’re going to look at which figures are doing well–basically, what you can expect to see at the next few ROC’s. In part 2, we’ll discuss which figures are not working like they use to in the Meta, and which figures might yet have their day in sun!

This should explain everything.

This should explain everything.

 

First, let’s take a look at the format the ROC is using this year. I mean, you can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is, right?

From HCRealms, here is the current format:

1.2.1: The first half of this season the format will be “300 Points, Modern Age, and “No Tactics” “No Entity Possession”.

No figure with a base larger than a double base (peanut). Runs Sep 2014-Mar 2015.

What is “No Tactics?” Again, from the rules:

“Part 4: TACTICS
Tactics are optional elements of HeroClix that you can choose to play in your HeroClix games. Each brings new strategic depth and exciting opportunities to the game, but also additional rules and complexity.
Tactics should be added to your game only when you feel you’ve mastered all other aspects of the HeroClix rules. Even then, you and those you play with might want to add only one Tactic at a time, learning each in turn. Tactics covered in this section include:

• Special Objects
• Resources
• Feats
• Battlefield Conditions
• Event Dials
• Bystanders Tokens
• Themed Teams

That’s right. No Resources, Relics, Colossals or Entities. No Bystander Tokens! No ATA’s, even! Yikes! Annnnd, you have to declare three maps on your Build sheet to choose from if you win Map Roll, so it’s a lot harder to hose teams simply via Map Choice. So what does that leave you? Well, quite a bit, actually, with one mechanic rising above the rest–at least so far. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Looking at the results of the few ROC’s that have been run so far under these rules (you can see the results of the FAT OGRE ROC right here, and the Dial H guys have talked at length about the ROC they ran in their last couple episodes), here is what you can expect to see.

SUPPORTING CAST:

Ranged figures are at such an advantage in this format. Probably because of that, everyone is looking for supporting figures that aid in targeting and pump up Range, Attack and/or Damage. Also, TK and Support are two KEY abilities that almost every team needs to have or needs to deal with. Healing, especially, is hard to come by in today’s Meta without a Power Battery. As such, these are the solutions some high level players have turned to in order to solve for X so far in this early part of the ROC season:

The Dead Set:

Deadpool Supporting Cast

DP018 Blind Al: She’s cheap (just 13 Points) and she enables shenanigans. She’s only got 2 clicks, but that doesn’t matter. Do you need to get a figure to its second click in a hurry? Do you want the cheapest Perplex in the game for your turtle (read: Iron Pharaoh) team? One of her main drawbacks–her keywords–doesn’t matter a lick in this format, since Theme Teams are disallowed.

DP020 Weasel: Now we’re up to 27 Points and 3 clicks of life! Again, his dial is so useful it doesn’t matter. He’s got 2 specials that just make him the best supporting piece for ranged attackers in the game (Well, a case could be made for the next fig on this list, but I’m getting ahead of myself). Weasel’s Tech-Guru to the Underworld Damage Special essentially allows him to give an adjacent friendly attacker +1 to their Range, Attack AND Damage. His top dial Attack Special is slightly less useful, but it will let you reroll a nearby friendly character’s missed range attack roll if you miss by 1 (unless it’s a critical miss). As a nice little bonus, Weasel has Pulse Wave on the last two clicks of his dial. He only has an 8 Attack to go with his 5 Range (3 on the Pulse Wave), but when you remember that Pulse Wave ignores opposing Shape Change, Super Senses, Energy Shield/Deflection and Probability Control (if the Prob’er is in the area of effect), it’s not inconceivable that  Weasel could actually hit someone with it.

Bill Agent of Aim

DP102 Bill, Agent of A.I.M.: 3 clicks of life for 30 Points! Bill does just about everything Blind Al does, only better! His Defense Special (I’M NOT ACTUALLY A QUALIFIED BLIMP PILOT, IT TURNS OUT: Bill, Agent of A.I.M. can use the Carry ability to carry any number of characters. After he carries a character and actions resolve, roll a d6. On a result of 3-6, deal him and the carried characters 1 damage.) will actually let you move most of your figures into place, and it also gets Bill to his two back clicks, which are absurdly useful for the points. He has the Hydra TA, Sidestep, Willpower and Outwit, but it’s his Attack Special that makes him a must play for a lot of folks (MY HIGH-ENERGY FINDER THING: Give Bill, Agent of A.I.M. a power action and choose the highest-point opposing character. Until your next turn, that character can be targeted with a ranged combat attack by one friendly character without line of fire to that opposing character.). Bascially, as long as your Primary Attacker is in range, he can attack your opponent’s best figure regardless of Terrain or Stealth or whatever, which is never not useful.

Again, Bill’s keywords aren’t the greatest (his best is probably Scientist), but that doesn’t matter a lick in this format.

The War Veterans:

War of Light is one of the largest sets they’ve ever made (actually, it’s gotta be the largest, right?), so just on shear numbers, it would have to offer a ton of great pieces for every role in a Build. As far as supporting pieces go, there’s definitely a few that you will run into again and again:

Soranik Natu

–WOL016 Soranik Natu: This is neither here nor there, but man, as I was looking for Soranik Natu images to put at the top of this entry, I noticed that half of what I found were Cosplay photos. I guess Soranik and her rather boobilicious uniform hit the Cosplay target right in the Bullseye. She’s alien, yet she basically looks like a sunburnt human; her costume wouldn’t be too hard to throw together, and dressing up as Ms. Natu offers the chance to display a lot o’ cleavage. There ya go–I think we just worked out a Cosplay algorithm that solves for the basic elements that need to be satisfied when choosing a character to Cosplay! Well done, us!

Anyway, Soranik Natu is a 70-Point Lantern from Wave 2 offers decent stats for her cost; what makes her Meta-worthy is the back half of her Trait (TANGLED LIVES: Opposing characters named Sinestro modify their combat values by -1 if not already modified by this effect. When Soranik Natu is adjacent to a character named Kyle Rayner, they both modify their attack values by +1 if not already modified by this effect.) and her top dial Attack Special (BATTLEFIELD MEDIC: Soranik Natu can use Telekinesis and Support. When she uses Telekinesis and places a friendly character next to her, she can use Support as a free action, but only to heal that character.). Please believe me when I say that there are very few good characters with Support in this format. Many teams in the normal Meta rely on the Power Battery for Support, or use Agrir’s Hammer for some Steal Energy/Quake shenanigans. Well, you can’t use either of those in the ROC right now. But Soranik here can fit right in with what a lot of Meta teams are already doing, and a 10 Attack Support as a FREE ACTION is a Godsend. Her TK also opens up a lot of doors in terms of your plan of attack.

As far as her Trait goes, we’ll see why that matters (if only a little) a little further on in this article.

Brother Hymn

–WOL029 Brother Hymn: He’s a bit pricey at 85 Points, but he will have just about every supporting power in the game (except maybe Empower, which doesn’t do much for you in the current environment anyway) somewhere on his dial. Top dial, he can use Perplex (only to increase values, but still), Enhancement (that also gives +1 to Range, not unlike Weasel), Barrier and Probability Control. Down dial he also morphs into a warrior monk with Running Shot and 3 damage along with Support (that he can occasionally use as–you guessed it–a Free Action!). He also flies, which means he’s a decent taxi, too.

Sister Sercy

–WOL033 Sister Sercy: She costs less than Brother Hymn (66 Points to his 85), but you get less, too. 1 less click of life, 2 less range, and less damage output throughout her whole dial. What you do get, however, is a phenomenal top click. Flight with 9 Movement and the Blue Lantern Perplex (can only Perplex values UP), 10 Attack with TK (so useful in this format), 17 Defense with Willpower and Prob with 2 Damage. She does pick up the same Support Special at the end of her dial that Brother Hymn has, but with an essentially naked 17 Defense and only 5 clicks, it is very possible someone can one shot her. Still, she is someone that you may see at a ROC.

The Old School:

Void

–SOG035 Void: At 70 Points with Flight and Phasing on all five of her clicks, along with the ability to Carry up to four friendly characters (with no keyword requirement, which, again, works brilliantly in a no Themed Teams environment), she’s one of the best Taxis in the game. She also gives you a (all together now!) Free Action Support after she resolves a move action. If her attack wasn’t stuck at 8 for her whole dial, she’d be nearly broken. She also possesses a wonderful Damage Special (PRECOGNITION: Void can use Outwit, Probability Control, and Super Senses; when an action resolves after she uses any of these powers, roll a d6 that cannot be rerolled and on a result of ‘one’ deal Void 1 unavoidable damage.) that might eat away at her over time, but chances are the game will already be decided before that damage really hurts her enough to matter.

SECONDARY ATTACKERS:

Modern Age currently has a good number of figures (thanks primarily to War of Light) that can act as very efficient Secondary Attackers who cost a pittance compared to what you used to have to pay. Most are Primes, but not all. If you’re going to a ROC soon, expect to see one of these pieces backing up the Primary Attacker:

The Lanterns:

Abin Sur

–WOL046B Abin Sur (Prime): Okay! Now we get to that mechanic I was talking about earlier–the one that’s been rising above the rest. It’s the Construct mechanic (CONSTRUCT: When building your force, you may attach a construct to this character by paying its point cost. Give this character a power action and replace the construct with any other construct, up to 2 points higher than the original construct. If this character has no action tokens and the new construct is a lower point value than the original construct, this is a free action instead.)! And Abin Sur here has it! He also has Running Shot, Energy Explosion, an 8 Range, 3 native Damage and some down dial Support (so useful!) and Perplex. Now, all that might seem pedestrian enough, but there are two MAJOR things to think about with Abin Sur here.

First, consider the WIDE range of abilities Abin’s Construct ability grants him (RCE, ES/D, Free Action Barrier, Free Action Smoke Cloud, Regen, CCE, Exploit Weakness, Improved Targeting: Ignores Hindering Terrain, etc., etc. … ). He can evolve with the game for the low, low price of 10 extra points when building your force (that’s the cost of the most expensive Construct, and he can switch them out at will by using a Power Action or a Free Action depending on which Construct you’re attaching.

Second, you’ll have that extra 10 Points (and more) to spend since Abin Sur ONLY COSTS 50 FREAKING POINTS!! Whaaa… ?!?!? Yep. He’s INSANELY good for his points. The other Construct pieces from War of Light are really good for their points, but 50 Points for everything Abin Sur brings you is just stupid.

Tomar Tu

–WOL013B Tomar Tu (Prime): 99 Points of awesome. He has the Construct ability, a mid-dial mini-Highfather-esque shenanigans-baiting Movement Special (FINAL STAND AGAINST HAL JORDAN: Give Tomar Tu a power action and choose an opposing character within 6 squares and line of fire. Until your next turn, that character can’t target any friendly character with an attack.), an absurd 9 Range, 18 Defense with Super Senses and Running Shot/Pulse Wave top dial. He can also use Willpower and has a conditional Outwit! You will be seeing this piece QUITE a lot in future ROC’s.

The Lil’ Guys:

Despotellis

–WOL099 Despotellis: Despotellis is sometimes referred to as a supporting piece, but make no mistake–his only purpose is dealing damage. Now, a 30-Point Hockey Puck with a 20 Defense is hard to deal with in the normal Meta; take away Resources and Relics, and his 20-Defense becomes ridiculously difficult to deal with. His Penetrating Poison is a great way to bust through particularly tough to deal with defensive abilities like Super Senses, Shape Change, Impervious, and so on. Additionally, some of the Construct-sporting Lanterns can get up to a 20+ Defense from Range with the Shield, so having a way to knock them through their clicks without having to roll attack dice is key.

Headpool

–DP002 Headpool: Okay, he’s more of a tertiary attacker/tie-up piece, but he makes this list because you’re going to see him a lot. While he doesn’t have the Construct ability, he does have the Merc With a Mouth ability, which lets him attach Word Balloons (not as good as Constructs, but useful in and of themselves). He’s easy to get into the fray, and his Exploit Weakness should allow him to get through most defenses. Plus, his Defense Special (IMMORTAL ZOMBIE HEAD THAT EVERYONE WANTS: Headpool ignores other characters’ Poison and all but 1 damage that would be dealt to him. This power can’t be countered or ignored.) will keep him around far longer than his 3 clicks of life might suggest he would stay. The fact that he has the ability to dish out Virus tokens as well is something that might also be exploited, but we’ll touch on that a little more next time in Part 2…

PRIMARY PIECES:

These are the main pieces to watch out for. Not every army will feature one of these, but most will. They’re also not all Primary Attackers–there’s a couple Meta Builds that revolve around pieces that change the game without attacking. Either way, whatever Build you come up with, you are gonna need a way to deal with these guys (and gal) if and when you encounter them.

Yup. More Lanterns:

Kyle Raynor ION 2

–WOL107 Kyle Raynor (Green Lantern): They finally made a good Kyle Raynor?! Yup. His 180 Point cost is worth it, especially since Kyle can use the Construct ability. He can deal a ton of damage his first two clicks, but then a Stop Click (ION: When this click is revealed due to an opponent’s attack, stop turning the dial. Kyle Rayner can use Impervious and the Quintessence team ability. This power can’t be ignored.) on Click 3 kicks things into overdrive. It bumps Kyle up to a 19 native Defense along with 5 Damage and Outwit. But it’s his Movement Special that’s really bonkers (I CAN BE EVERYWHERE I NEED TO BE: Kyle Rayner can use the Duo Attack Ability. When he does, before making each attack, you may place him in a legal square up to half his speed value away.). Read that ability again. It’s stupid, it’s so good. And you still have 110-ish Points (depending on what Construct you buy Kyle) left for supporting pieces. He is fully capable of doing 9 Damage or more while using that crazy Duo Attack of his, and there’s next to nothing that your opponent can do to tie him down!

John Stewart

–WOL105 John Stewart: A more traditional from-range beatstick who becomes more interesting in this format since he has the Construct ability. His top dial includes Running Shot, Precision Strike, RCE and the ability to use RCE as a ranged combat action instead of a power action. He also naturally sees through Hindering Terrain and other characters. For those reasons, he’s better than the 160 Point Hal Jordan that came with the Scenario Pack. He doesn’t have the crazy movement powers that Kyle Raynor does, but he’s damn good in his own right and he still packs a serious punch.

The Kool-Aid Kult Member:

Proxima Midnight

–GOTG050 Proxima Midnight: First of all, how awesome is her sculpt? It’s the exact image above, including the fallen victim at her feet. But I digress. Proxima is 100 points of aggression; her dial has 7 Clicks that start out range-based, then turn to close combat before finishing with some clicks that are somewhere in between. Top dial she has 10 Movement with Running Shot, 11 Attack with Pen/Psy (and Sharpshooter), 18 Defense with Combat Reflexes and 3 native damage. Her Range is dependent on her first Trait (THREE TRACERS OF BLACK LIGHT: Proxima Midnight begins the game with 3 Tracer tokens on this card. Proxima Midnight has a range value equal to the number of Tracer tokens on this card times 3, and has a number of bolts equal to the number of Tracer tokens on this card.), but it’s her second Trait that makes her so useful against foes with strong defensive abilities (THE SPEAR OF PROXIMA MIDNIGHT: When Proxima Midnight hits with a ranged combat attack, remove a Tracer token from this card and place it on a hit character’s card if it doesn’t already have one. At the beginning of your turn, roll a d6 for each of her Tracer tokens on other character’s cards, and on a result of 3-6 deal 1 penetrating damage to the character with that Tracer token on its card. When a character with her Tracer token on its card is KO’d, place the Tracer token on Proxima Midnight’s card.). Yup. Depending on that Spear roll, you could potentially do two separate packets of penetrating damage to a character. For pieces with Stop Clicks or other shenanigans (Bizarro, the Kyle Raynor from above that we just talked about), this is a huge headache.

With her combination of Sharpshooter, Pen/Psy and Combat Reflexes, sometimes your best move is to simply Running Shot right next to your target and stay there–if they don’t have an available Outwit, it’s going to be very tough for most pieces to hit a 20 Defense–especially if Proxima hits them first and they’re mid-dial.

Lots of folks have been teaming her with Bill, Agent of A.I.M. to get that first shot in from a safe place where it’s hard or even impossible for the enemy to return fire. This is certainly a valid strategy; just be ever mindful of your positioning with her, because she can get chewed up from range real quick. Her native 18 Defense isn’t bad by any stretch, but she has no reducers of any kind. Of course, even if she does go down hard, she still has her final Trait (CULL OBSIDIAN: When Proxima Midnight is KO’d by an opposing character’s attack, deal damage to that character equal to the last amount of damage dealt to Proxima Midnight. This damage can’t be reduced below 1.) to leave as a parting gift. Oh, and Ninwashui is kind of a fan.

The Shapeshifter:

Zombie Super Skrull

GOTG062 Super Skrull: This was the winning Primary Piece at the Dial H ROC event, I believe. He’s 170 Points and possesses all the same Zombie Traits that every other Zombie Chase has. Those alone make him pretty good, but what he’s really good at is mimicking that Green Lantern Construct ability! Super Skrull’s Trait (IT’S HARD TO EMULATE FOUR POWERS WITH HALF MY LIMBS: Give Super Skrull a free action and choose up to one each of standard speed, attack, defense, and damage powers. Super Skrull can use the chosen powers until your next turn. For each power chosen this way, place a Power token on his card. At the end of your turn, roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled, and subtract 1 for each Power token on his card and remove all Power tokens from his card. On a result of 1 or less, deal Super Skrull 1 unavoidable damage.) lets him actually choose up to FOUR standard abilities to pick up on the fly, and he does it all AS A FREE ACTION (not every Construct flip with the Lanterns is gonna be a Free Action). He’s a multi-tool for every occasion! And with his Zombie Traits, you frankly don’t care about taking one measly damage, since you have multiple ways to get it back!

And he teams very well with Headpool and some of the other Z-Virus figs like–well, we’ll get into that in Part 2 when we talk about some possibly overlooked figures!

The Ol’ Standards:

"I;m back?! My dear, I never left!"

“I’m back?! My dear, I never left!”

–IIM051 Iron Pharaoh: He is still a thing, going forward. I don’t know if there’s a piece I’ve discussed more on this site. He’s one of my favorites to use, and he’s not going anywhere until he’s rotated out. There’s not really a format that he’s not at least above average in. Krampus/Helspont teams (and, to a lesser extent, Shatterstar teams) are probably his main weakness at the moment, but even then, he probably still has a 40%-50% of coming out on top. I’ll take those odds if I’m matched up against a team designed to exploit my fatal flaw. And while he keywords are actually pretty good, the fact that you can play whoever you want with him in this environment only makes him better–he doesn’t have any NAMED keywords, so he was never gonna get those Theme Team probs anyway!

Shatterstar

–WXM010 Shatterstar: At 73 Points, he seems like he should be considered a Secondary Attacker. And on many builds, he probably will be. However, there’s a good chance that his team is going to revolve around him anyway thanks to his easily exploitable Trait (X PORTAL: Once per game, give Shatterstar a power action. Place Shatterstar and an adjacent friendly character of a lower point value in any adjacent squares on the map.) and the fact that, top dial, he can Charge 5 squares, has an 11 Attack with both Flurry AND B/C/F (Yup. If the rolls go your way, a 73 Point character can dish out 12 Clicks of raw damage on the second freaking turn no matter where your opponent is on the map. And once he’s up close and personal with an opposing figure, they’ll have to hit a 19 to Damage him (17 native Defense plus Combat Reflexes). Hell, you can run two of him and still have almost 150 Points leftover for the rest of your army. He’s that good. And just like the comics, he pairs really well with Rictor, especially since they both have top dial Charge (and Rictor pumps up their Attack values).

Highfather

–SLOSH052 Highfather: Yes, he’s still hanging around. He’s a supporting piece masquerading as a primary figure. His top dial TK , Prob and Support are somewhat useful, but the only reason he’s really played is his Trait (THE PACT: At the beginning of the game, you may announce a pact. If you do, the highest point character on your force and the highest point character on your opponent’s force (300 points or less) can’t target opposing characters with an attack until one of them has taken damage from an attack or they are the only 2 characters on the map. This ability can’t be ignored.). He can shut down Tentpole pieces, but it’s very rare in this environment that you’re going to find yourself facing a really heavy-costed piece outside of Kyle or Zombie Super Skrull. And even then, it’s not inconceivable that they won’t have a supporting piece who can get a shot in on Highfather.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I think Highfather is a losing strategy at this point. If you go this route, you will run into a few games where he guides you to an easy win. You may even make Top 8, but usually by then you’re gonna face some really well-put-together teams that will have not one but MULTIPLE answers for Highfather, and your day will be done right quick. But I have to include him on this list because he is still out there and you may run into him.

Helspont Krampus 2

WK002 Krampus/SLOSH042 Helspont: These guys come as a pair. An unlikely one, I grant you, but they’re pretty effective. The basic idea here is to use these two along with Blind Al. You Perplex Krampus twice with Blind Al and Helspont (who also has Perplex) to get Krampus to a 12 Attack, then you give Blind Al a power action to activate her Booby Trap power and expel Helspont from the starting area and deal him one unavoidable damage. The tricky part here is to find a spot to place Helspont that’s outside of your starting area yet adjacent to Krampus (not all maps will have a good spot, so winning Map Roll will definitely help you here). Then you activate Helspont’s Movement Special (I INFILTRATED YOU LONG AGO: Give Helspont a double power action and select an opposing character of a lower point value. Place Helspont and the chosen character in each other’s squares, and after actions resolve, Helspont may be given a close or ranged combat attack as a free action.) to trade places with a key member of your opponent’s force who’s 199 Points or less. If at all possible, you want to choose someone who doesn’t have Shape Change, Super Senses or Probability Control (again, with no Themed Teams, Probability Control will be a lil’ easier to avoid) to take as many variables out of the equation as you can.

Then you activate Krampus’s special Capture Trait (NAUGHTY CHILDREN ARE MY HOLIDAY FEAST: Krampus can use the Capture ability. He can use it normally or, if the target is a higher point value, he must be given a double power action instead of a power action. When Krampus releases a captured character in his starting area, in addition to the normal effects, heal Krampus to his starting line.) and hope to all that is holy (or maybe unholy) that you hit. Krampus’s Attack Special gives him +1 to hit as well for each token on the target, so that will help you as well. With a 12-13 Attack, you should have a fighting chance against most figures.

You’ll probably have to wait through one round of clearing before you can release your Captive, but if you can succeed at all those steps, there’s a high probability that the game will be effectively over, especially if you were also able to take a Free Action shot with Helspont at another figure on your opponent’s team (and since there’s no chance of a Colossal-Sized Power Battery being in the way in their starting area in this environment, you should be good to go). Because Krampus never left his starting area, he’s still there, and he can release his Captive as soon as he has the ability to take a Power Action.

Now, if you miss with Krampus, you’re not doomed, since his Plasticity will keep most figures right where they’re at and he other Special Powers that grant him Super Senses and the ability to Perplex Attack Values down by -2, but you’ll also be giving your opponent a LOT more time to react, which is never good with this sort of combo team. There was also a ruling recently in the WizKids rules forum where they basically expanded the first turn Immunity rule to prevent you from doing this on your first turn; waiting until turn two isn’t exactly a dealbreaker, though–if you hit your rolls, crippling your opponent on turn two is just as effective as crippling him on turn one.

Hypersonic Speed is also a horrible matchup for this team (Speed Demon in particular, who people seem to have forgotten about so soon after his domination last season. But with his ability to cross the map in two turns, attack Krampus for 3 Damage AND also catch the creature in a Speed Cyclone Uplift, it’s possible he can KO Krampus in that token-clearing turn after he Captures someone but before he can release them.), but so far, we haven’t seen a ton of those figs show up in this specific Meta (outside of Super Skrull, who can gain it if he wants it). Having said all that, this is still a wickedly viable Build. I’d suspect you’d have much better results playing this than Highfather, at the very least.

The Best of the Rest:

Briefly, IIM001B Silver Centurion, ASM017B Brother Voodoo and WOL104 & WOL104R Guy Gardner are a few other figures you may run into in your ROC travels that are definitely still viable in the Meta.

Okay! So there you have it. Almost 5000 words on what you can expect to run into if you attend a ROC this season. Next time, we’ll discuss which former Meta figures you should avoid, and which figures and Builds you can try that haven’t really shown up yet this season.

Until then, stay safe, and watch where you draw your lines of fire!