“Hmmm… well, 1 or 2 of these guys might be Meta. Someday… “
[To Be Read In Your Best Kiefer Sutherland Voice]
“Previously, on Critical Missives:
–‘Iron Pharaoh is still a thing, going forward.’
–‘Highfather is a losing strategy.’
This should explain everything.
And Now… The Conclusion.”
Whew!! Okay! Now that we’re all caught up, let’s look at some figs that ain’t what they used to be when it comes to the ROC, and some figs that people should be looking really closely at that haven’t yet had their day in the sun. Finally, we’ll talk a bit about what we can expect to show up in the Meta now that FLASH has been released!
Ain’t What They Used to Be Division:
Suuuuure you do, Sweetie…
–DP038 Copycat: Wow. Some idiot was predicting doom and gloom for this ROC season because Copycat would dominate in an environment without Resources and Entities. What’s that? Oh, it was me? And what’s happened (at least so far)? Copycat is nowhere to be seen? Oh. And the lesson, as always? I’m an idiot?
So, every now and then, some jackass will Copycat in a ROC now, but they won’t advance even into the Top 8. Why? Well, it’s because of the Construct ability that lets you start with the Nurse on a piece like Abin Sur or Tomar Tu. And Construct pieces are EVERYWHERE! And because of this, if you’re running a Copycat, it’s useless to switch, because your opponent will just put her in a horrible position and then Regenerate (remember, any attachments or effects on the targeted character transfer to Copycat), thus ending the effect. And if you don’t switch, you’ve got 90 Points (basically a third of your force) that’s next to useless. 90 Points that’s so bad that you thought giving it to your opponent for almost ANY qualifying figure they had was a winning strategy.
It doesn’t help her either that the New Mutants Team Base–her best running buddy–is disallowed in the current format.
So yeah, you may run into one or two teams that you can wreck with Copycat, but more often than not you’re cutting your own throat by playing her in this format. I couldn’t have been more mistaken in where I thought this Meta was heading, and I’ve never been happier to be so wrong!
“He’s better than me? Wait, doesn’t Speed Demon know that I’M supposed to be the Prime?“
–DP053B Whizzer: Hell of a dial. Hell of a power set. Hell of a piece! It’s just that Speed Demon does everything Whizzer does, but better. And without taking up that valuable Prime slot that most folks are using for Brother Voodoo, Tomar Tu or Abin Sur.
Just as a refresher for those of you keeping score at home, let’s talk for a minute about the differences between Whizzer and Speed Demon (you can follow along at HCRealms.com):
–Whizzer ignores Elevated, Water and Blocking Terrain (and Characters, but so does Speed Demon); Speed Demon ignores Hindering Terrain. This is pretty much a wash; you’ll certainly encounter more Hindering Terrain than anything else, but the ability to run up walls or through them, or over water in a pinch with Whizzer is pretty cool. ADVANTAGE: EVEN
–Whizzer can make TWO attacks during his Hypersonic movement, but only during his first two clicks. Speed Demon knows the same trick ON HIS LAST FOUR CLICKS. ADVANTAGE: SPEED DEMON.
–Whizzer has Indomitable. Speed Demon doesn’t. ADVANTAGE: WHIZZER
–Speed Demon has the Speed Cyclone Uplift Trait, arguably one of the ten best Traits Wizkids has ever made. Whizzer has no Traits. MASSIVE ADVANTAGE: SPEED DEMON
Whizzer here gets a lil’ closer to his non-Prime brother in a format where keywords don’t matter (Speed Demon’s are waaaay better), but otherwise, save the 10 Points and go with Speed Demon.
FINAL TALLY: Speed Demon wins, 2-1.
And that is why Whizzer is in this category. He was great when the ROC was just starting to roll out, but–especially with almost every team running some sort of Prime secondary figure–Whizzer is just too expensive at the moment, especially since we know how good Speed Demon is now.
“No, I’ve not seen the Earthen cinema classic ‘Basic Instinct.’ Why do you ask?”
–SLOSH052 Highfather: Actually, I think we discussed him in Part 1! But he’s kind of in the same boat as Copycat for me; if you’re playing a Highfather team, you’re hoping to face one specific kind of team the whole tournament (any Build that revolves around a big bruiser–the more points, the better) that you can basically screw over before the game begins. If you run into a balanced team or really any team with a solid secondary attacker, you’re probably gonna lose. That’s why I think Highfather and Copycat are losing strategies; it’s not that you’ll lose every game, but you have almost no shot to actually win the tournament (or even make a Top 4). And if you’re not playing to win, you’re playing to lose–Ricky Bobby taught us this!
“Bizarro am Meta this season!”
–SLOSH039X Bizarro: Unfortunately, no, Bizarro is not Meta right now. And no, that’s not me saying the reverse of what I actually mean. Bizarro’s still got his un-ignorable Stop Click-y goodness Trait, but without access to Resources, Relics or Entities, he’s a bit more inconsistent in terms of the stats on his dial, and he can’t heal as easily. There’s also been an increase in the number of Meta-Worthy figures who can do damage to him twice in one turn (Speed Demon, Proxima Midnight, etc.).
Now, when Resources, Entities and everything else returns in the second half season, Bizarro will once again be Meta, but until then, he just isn’t going to be a consistent enough performer to structure a team around.
(Having said that, you WILL occasionally see 25 Point Bizarro included in some Builds as a Taxi/Tertiary Attacker. I never loved Bizarro at 25 Points simply because with only 1 Orrazib Token on his card, Bizarro can’t take advantage of his best power–that Traited, un-ignorable Stop Click! But at 25 Points, he’s kinda like a pull on a slot machine–if you roll him onto one of his best clicks, you can do some serious damage for very little Build cost.)
Modern Age Figures That Have So Far Been Ignored in the ROC:
—DP053A Speed Demon: So far, ROC results indicate that strong ranged-base pieces are at the center of the Meta right now. But Hypersonic Speed came back in a big way this year (more on that later), and as of yet seems really untapped! And of all the great speedsters WizKids released this year, Speed Demon is pound for pound the best of the lot! He’s placed in ROC Top 8’s before, and even in this format, I don’t see why he can’t be dominant again. As always, it’s his awesome Trait (SPEED CYCLONE UPLIFT: When Speed Demon moves, after actions resolve, choose an opposing character and roll a d6. If the result is less than the number of distinct squares that Speed Demon moved into or through that are adjacent to that character during the move, you may place that character within line of fire of its square and up to the result away in squares and deal that character half of the result in damage.) that lets him potentially deal damage twice in one turn (or up to three times a turn down dial!). The fact that his Trait can go off without having to make an attack roll is just awesome, and it’s a great way to deal with potentially problematic figs like Despotellis who have Defense Values that are really tough to reach.
Also, at 110 Points, he can be used as either a Primary Attacker or a Secondary Attacker, depending on which way you want to go with your build.
–007B Captain Marvel: So, this was kind of an omission from Part One, since he has shown up on multiple ROC teams, but we’ll talk about him here. Captain Marvel Prime is stupidly, ridiculously good. He was #1 on my GotG Top Ten Review, and he’s only gonna grow in popularity. His usefulness knows almost no bounds; he offers taxi services, Running Shot, 6 Range, Energy Explosion, Pen/Psy and Incapacitate, and if he hits with any of those attacks, the hit character CANNOT ATTACK during the next turn. He also has an 18 Defense with uncounterable Defend and Super Senses, and he adds +1 to the Defense of any non-Kree. Whew!! That’s a ton of stuff for only 82 Points!
His only drawback is his RELATIVELY short Range of 6 and his lack of Indomitable. That’s it. Try teaming him with AVX007 Black Panther and some other supporting folks to grant him Willpower to unleash his full potential!
–DP064 Electro: Zombie Chase Electro! Yay! In addition to being fun to play, Zombie Electro here has the potential to deal boatloads of damage. His attack isn’t necessarily consistently high enough to to be a Primary Attacker, but he’s damn dangerous as a secondary attacker. Try teaming him with Meta staples Super-Skrull and Headpool to get the most out of him. Either one will gives Virus tokens to any opposing character they hit, and once that happens, Electro can zap them from any square on the map as long as they’re within his Range–line of fire is no longer required! Also, Zombie Super-Skrull, Zombie Electro and Headpool is 298 Points, so they all fit together!
“I thought I was clear before, but, to reiterate… Y’all mother$@#%&!$ forgot about Dre!”
–IIM040 Shaman: Okay, I’ve been pitching this guy as a Secondary Attacker/Support piece for over a year now, but he is still REALLY good. And his “No Flights” ability can really screw over some Builds, especially on certain maps. We’ll have a Build featuring this guy, Iron Pharaoh and some NEW blood a little bit later!
“Oh man, look at those lines! Maybe coming to San Diego in character was a bad idea!”
–CATWS Captain America and Black Widow: Get this Duo some TK and Perplex and let them go to work. They have Traited Stealth and can see and move through Hindering themselves. Duo attack plus Precision Strike is nice. Sidestep + Improved Movement: Ignores Characters is also awesome! The best part about these two is that they only cost you 130 Points, which is really low for everything they offer. With the right supporting pieces, they can be straight deadly!
And What to Expect From The Flash:
Well, I don’t want to step on our Flash Top Ten Reviews coming later this month, but this is a really solid set, and there’s more than a few figures you’re going to have to know if you have hopes of competing in the ROC!
–FL031 Turtle: I love this figure! His Trait is so flavorful, and I love that his name is Turtle and that he, y’know, helps your team “turtle.” He gives you a Stealthy Outwitter for 50 Points, but the best reason to play him is his Trait (Slowness as a Way of Life: Turtle can use plasticity. when another character moves at least 5 squares and actions resolve, give them an action token. if you can’t, deal them 1 penetrating damage.), which pairs absolutely PERFECTLY with that Iron Pharaoh/Shaman team I mentioned earlier:
Team Name: Slowness as a Way of Death!
IIM051 Iron Pharaoh — 110 Points
IIM040 Shaman — 92
DP020 Weasel — 27
FI001 Thule Society Priest — 21
FL031 Turtle — 50
=300 (Exactly! Yay!)
How to Play: This works like any other Pharaoh team. If you win Map Roll, you want to choose Wundagore Mountain (from AvX) or any other map that is a bear to cross. Hole up in your Starting Area, send out your Falcon, stop anyone else from flying with Shaman and destroy any who would oppose you. And with Turtle’s Trait, the faster they try and get to you, the longer it will actually take.
You’ll have 2 Outwits (IP, Turtle), 1 Perplex (Shaman), Enhancement (Weasel) and the possibility of a Prob Control (Thule Society Priest on his last click). Weasel will also pump up Iron Pharaoh’s Attack by 1 and let him reroll if Iron Pharaoh misses by 1! When the enemy closes in, Shaman makes a decent Secondary Attacker. Alternatively, his Defense Special (GLACIAL WALL: Shaman can use Barrier and Energy Shield/Deflection. When he uses Barrier, the blocking terrain markers can’t be targeted with an attack by characters marked with one or more action tokens.) lets him pump out an improved Barrier. Thule Society Priest can also be used as a tie-up/annoyance piece, especially since he can copy Mystics from Shaman and deal an unavoidable damage to whichever opposing figure has to spend an action killing him.
Now, Flash has also seen the release of Jack Hawksmoor, an Authority character who has a Trait that deals 1 Penetrating Damage to any character still in a Starting Area during Turn 3 or later. To me, though, this is hardly a deterrent to playing a Pharaoh team. Moving Pharaoh (especially with Shaman as a Taxi) and the rest of the team just outside their own starting area in the first couple turns is child’s play, and sometimes it leads to even better positioning for “turtling” (depending on the Map). At the end of the day, all Jack Hawksmoor is really going to stop is Blind Al.
So there ya go! The Slowest Team Ever Devised!! And its main flaw–it’s not a Themed Team–doesn’t matter in the current ROC format because Themed Team rules are not in effect!
–Finally, keep an eye out for FL007 S.T.A.R. Labs Technician (possibly the best pure all around support piece in the game right now!); FL202 Flash (once he gets going, there’s almost no safe place on the map for your opponent!); FL053B Zoom (the Prime; he’s a beast who can use Blades/Claws/Fangs AND either Flurry OR Exploit Weakness WHILE HE’S USING HYPERSONIC SPEED! Yup! Another piece who can attack twice in a turn. AND he’s a Black Lantern!); and FL050 Flash (aka Kingdom Come Flash; once he gets some Speed Force tokens going, he can absolutely END even some of the hardiest figures IN ONE TURN!).
Kingdom Come Flash’s KO rate when using his “Who Would Dare Be A Criminal in this City?” special Attack Power.
For more specifics on exactly why you need to be ready for these pieces and more, check out our Flash Top Ten Review coming later this month!
Until then, stay safe, and watch where you draw those lines of fire!