Road to Nationals - Chesterfield

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 19:18:02 Europe/London

UK Heroclix National Qualifiers (And Finals!)
 
Hi there! For those that don’t know me, my name is Felix and I’ve been playing Heroclix for a long time. My first ever figure was a Veteran Ultimates Ghost Rider that a friend gave to me and that was enough to get me started and I’ve never really stopped.

Last year we had a really big resurgence in big organised Heroclix in the UK. Starting with the ROC we also had UK nationals for the first time in ages (with qualifiers for both) and a few other events like Clix for Cancer. I think these are a great opportunity to meet and play against lots of different people, see some interesting teams and generally have fun playing Heroclix so I went to as many as I could.

This year the first big event we have are the UK nationals, once again with a series of qualifying events and I decided once again that I was going to go to as many as I could and hopefully play in the nationals again. And to hopefully inspire some of you to attend at least one (and maybe give you some advice that helps you win!)I also decided to write down how I did each time.
 
Qualifier 1: Justice League Trinity War Sealed at Games Galore in Chesterfield
 
This was the first event on the calendar and hopefully a good omen for me as I was lucky enough to qualify there last year. With a sealed qualifier there isn’t too much preparation you can do but you should at least take a look at the set list. Every set has trends in terms of characters and powers and if you can identify them you can work out the sorts of figures you should be looking for in your packs. You can also identify any key figures (Especially common and uncommon ones) that are especially powerful within that set. Particularly you should be focusing on the common and uncommon slots as these figures are going to turn up more often. (And if you don’t want to do this yourself check out HCrealms which has a bunch of sealed primer articles doing just this!)

Using Fear Itself as an example, this set was focused on tough close combat figures with relatively few powerful ranged attackers. Furthermore the Book of Skulls made Attack Values really high so a Damage Reducers and powers like Super-Senses were better than High Defence numbers. Key characters might be Doctor Strange for his ranged attacks or Heimdall for his movement blocking.

So what do I think about Trinity War?

-The set has loads of Tent pole figures. Starting with Bizarro at common and Ultraman at Uncommon. Your team had better be prepared to deal with a character like that. 
-The Crime Syndicate theme means there is loads of Probability control available. This is a key power in sealed games and most people with have the possibility to include it.
-Some keywords are strongly represented so it’s quite likely some people will be able to make theme teams. 
-There are a subset of Atlantis themed characters that can perform much better on certain maps. This can make the roll for first player more important and you need to prepare to fight on a flooded map.
-Almost all of the big characters have a split dial so opening one will give you a couple of options on how to build your team, another reason to look out for them. 
-While there are some powerhouse characters at every rarity there are a few duds as well, Dr Sivana does not match up well to Ultraman!

So if I want to do well I want a team that can handle an expensive character, quite possibly with some probability control backup. This means I want to either pack a bigger expensive character, some outwit or some probability control myself. There is also a chance that my packs will give me a bunch of figures that offer none of that and I’m in trouble. If this is the case then the best plan you can have is to gamble on dice. Look for random powers like Supersenses or Blades and characters with high Damage but low Attack scores and hope to roll well!
 
Figures I was looking out for:
Common: Vibe, Atomica, Bizarro
Uncommon: I, Vampire, Ultraman, Owlman, Ocean Master, Lex Luthor
Rare: Freddy Freeman, Hawkman, The Grid, Johnny Quick, Sinestro
SR: Superman, Batman, Martian Manhunter,
 
Lex in particular gets a special mention because he stands out in this set. Pulse Wave is the perfect weapon to deal with all those expensive characters, Outwit is another great weapon to have, Leadership can remove his own action tokens and his Subterfuge token makes it really hard for an opponent to land the first attack. He’s probably the best figure outside of the Super-Rares to open.
So I was ready. I had some dice, maps and action tokens all packed up. I was hoping to have some interesting boosters to build a cool team and then dazzle my opponents with brilliant play and win that qualification. As you will see it didn’t quite turn out that way….though there was a happy ending anyway.
 
My Team:
So I arrived in the store, chatted with a couple of friends, discussed the sorts of figures we wanted to open and marvelled at the huge prize hoard. Then the moment of truth. My figure are below and one team kind of stuck out. See if you can spot it:
 
Nick Necro (Cool – I wanted one of these for myself)
Vandal Savage
Lex Luthor - 200 points
Aquaman
Stargirl
Mera
Atomica
Doctor Light
Vibe
Bizarro – 100 points
Sloth relic
 
So yes, there was Lex. After deciding he was the best figure to open I couldn’t really not play with him. And in Bizarro I had the perfect sparring partner. He can take the hits aimed at Lex while giving me a theme team and those lovely rerolls and a really solid backup attacker as well. So not interesting boosters but they were really good ones. (I was talking to some of the other players there and they have done the same as me and also decided that Lex +Bizarro would be a good team to open).

The plan for the team was really simple. Move up the battlefield using the untargetable Lex to screen Bizarro. Try to set up a Pulse wave on their most dangerous figure and work from there. Be prepared to sacrifice Bizarro if needed. Lex was all that mattered.
 
The Games:
Sealed games are often quite simple. Sometimes one team just overpowers another. Other times a crucial die roll can decide the game. Most of my games ended up doing one of these. Rather than describe every turn in detail I’m just going to give a quick description and highlight the key points. In particular I’ll mention a key mistake that I made in each game.
 
Round 1: Richard with Firestorm, Green Arrow and Wrath Relic.
His team was outgunned and we both knew it. He waited while I moved into attack position. He had a chance to catch Lex in Firestorm’s Precision Energy Explosion (targeting Bizarro) but missed. Lex was able to move out of Firestorm’s LOF to Pulse Wave Green Arrow and Bizarro finished him off. Firestorm went for the shot on Lex but missed again. One more Pulse Wave and Richard conceded.
 
Key Mistake: Actually this game it was a question or Risk. Lex could have used his outwit on Firestorm before attacking Green Arrow. That would have left Firestorm pretty useless for the next turn. I chose to keep the outwit in case I missed Green Arrow to get rid of Ranged Combat Expert. Firestorm was still the bigger threat though and I should have removed his Outwit first.
 
Round 2: Rob with Owlman (Full points) Zatana (backwards), The Trench, Lust Relic
I moved forwards while Rob shifted his team around. Trench moved in as tie up and was crushed by Bizarro. I then made the choice to try and push my advantage and try to dominate the game, moving Lex to attack position. Owlman based him and I had an opening. Lex outwitted his Combat Reflexes and Bizarro tried to quake him off the elevation we were standing on. Even with a theme re-roll he missed and Owlman was able to start swinging at Lex. I tried retreating to regroup but Rob used his Telekinesis well to chase me down. With Bizarro defeated I had to send Lex into the fight. Once Zatana hit her outwit to match Owlman’s it wasn’t too long before Lex was KOd.
 
Key Mistake(s): Once I defeated the Trench I should have withdrawn and forced Rob to come to me. It would have given me a better opportunity to isolate one of this characters. I also positioned a retreated Bizarro in a position where Rob could just get into range to finish him off. These were both symptomatic of the same issue. I knew my team was powerful and was too confident while not respecting Rob’s team as much as I should. Overall Rob played better than me and totally deserved to win.
 
Round 3: Brett with Ultraman (Short Dial), Superwoman (Short Dial), Atomica
We both moved cautiously forwards, Lex hiding in an office. The Crime Syndicate tried to sneak around the walls but Lex was wise to that and shot down a wall (which helpfully lets him keep his Subterfuge going) and Bizarro cracked Ultraman with a heavy object. The game then had a slightly odd turn as Lex kept making his Leadership roll and just sat back watching the action as Bizarro finished off Ultraman and Atomica. Superwoman finally finished him off but that left her up against Lex and his Pulse Wave was enough to swing the odds.
 
Key Mistake: When Lex destroyed the wall to let me start attacking Ultraman I had planned to outwit him, forgetting that the debris tokens would protect him with his Hiding from the Sun trait. I was lucky that he missed his Impervious roll when Bizarro attacked him anyway.
 
Round 4: Alberto with Batman (Full points), Green Arrow
Alberto has positioned a diagonal line of objects to give Batman somewhere to hide in and moved into it. I hid behind some blocking but had left an opening for Batman. He shuffled into range and took a shot at Bizarro. Unfortunately for Alberto Batman rolled a critical miss and picked up his second action token. The positioning of his object curtain also stopped Green Arrow from any kind of follow up. He outwitted Bizarro’s charge and hoped for the best. That turned out to be Lex catching them both with Pulse Wave, bringing charge back and Bizarro smashing Green arrow onto his last click. He was finished off next turn and while Batman was able to take him down he had no answer to Lex’s Pulse wave. Especially after his early miss.
 
Key Mistake: When I advanced into position I had my figures the wrong way around. I wanted Bizarro in charge range but I should have protected him with Lex. I was concerned that Batman would be able to hit Lex with a Pulse wave, forgetting that Bizarro’s Mastermind trait would still be active and that making that attack would have left Batman in the open and an easy target, as well as making Lex’s positioning easier next turn.
 
So after 4 rounds we had a top 4, ready to fight it out for the qualifying place. These were:
  1. Andrew: I,Vampire ,Pride
  2. Me: Lex and Bizarro
  3. Byron: Superman and Signalman
  4. Rob: Owlman, Zatana, The Trench and Lust Relic.
 
Just a couple of notes on those top 4 teams. All of them had 11+ Attack scores. 3 of them had one of the set’s heavy hitters. They all had a bit of outwit and most of them packed some Probability Control. The real exception there was Rob who compensated with plenty of support powers and precision strike. All of which backed up my previous opinions on the set.
 
The semi-finals were set with Andy having a rematch with Rob and me taking on Byron.
 
Semi-Final: Byron with Superman and Signalman.
This game was a bit of an anti-climax. I knew I was going to the Nationals final. Byron wasn’t. He was happy with his prizes in the top 4 and so conceded to me. Thanks Byron!
I can’t say I was unhappy as it would have been a tough game for both of us. Lex can control the engagement pretty well but I still need to roll that 8+ to get the crucial first hit, and I think the game is decided on that roll. So instead of giving you another chance to read about one of my mistakes you get to hear about the other Semi-Final:
I didn’t watch the whole game but it followed the pattern of the previous one. There Rob had managed to take down I, Vampire but it had cost him Zatana and The Trench. Pride had then picked off Owlman with hit and run attacks. This game was following the same pattern but with one crucial difference: Owlman had actually managed to pick up the Lust Relic! This turned things around. Pride had to take him out to win but was forced into a stand-up fight. Shapechange kept her going for a little while but eventually Owlman managed to finish her off.
 
Final: Me vs Rob
So I got to match up against the team that had beaten me. Rob picked a map heavy with hindering terrain and moved up, failing to collect Lust this time. I then made a fortunate move. Bizarro moved up as far as he could holding his object and Lex moved next to him. This helpfully (And unintentionally) put me in a perfect position to Pulse Wave Owlman. Rob moved his Trench to block the single target Pulse Wave and waited to see. Lex passed his leadership and I chose to remove the action token from Bizarro. This would leave him available for a Theme reroll and then to move into a defensive position. Lex then went for the attack hitting both Owlman and Trench for 1 damage, outwitting Zatana’ s Telekinesis to limit counter attacks and Bizarro flew into block LOF. Although this attack wasn’t crippling it crucially took away Owlman’s stealth making him vulnerable to Lex’s outwit and Rob knew it. He fought back as best he could and spent his turn missing every attack he tried on a vulnerable Bizarro. Once he KOd The Trench to free up both himself and Lex the game was up. Owlman was finished off the next turn and Zatana shortly afterwards.
 
Key Mistakes: None! Well none that I remember. It’s got to happen sometime right? Having played against the team once already I had a much better idea of what I needed to do.

 
End of the Day:
So I qualified for the finals! My good fortune in Chesterfield continued! I may have been highlighting the mistakes I spotted but the rest of my playing was pretty solid. And at least I spotted those mistakes that I was making so I can avoid them for later (And that definitely paid off in the final match).
But for me the best thing was getting to meet some new people and play some clix in a great relaxed atmosphere. The huge pile of prizes maybe helped and everybody that stayed to the end of the Swiss got to go home with something (Teen Titans Boosters, Super Boosters, Convention Exclusives). So even if you don’t think you’re going to win or you’re not going to the nationals itself it is still well worth turning up and playing!
Special mention to Alberto and his Brother. Alberto was running the event and but for his critical miss on Batman could have been here instead of me. He Brother provided genuine homemade Italian food for all the players. It was also nice to see the Clix players in Chesterfield growing with a whole bunch of people I hadn’t met before.

Next stop for me will be Birmingham and some Modern Age Constructed!
 
The Final Word:
I was lucky all day. I opened a great team (And as a bonus got the SR Prime I wanted!). Outside of the round I lost I missed one attack all day, and that was during the mopping up stage of a game. Equally, outside of that second round each opponent would miss at least one crucial attack on my team each game. In the final Rob missed every attack he tried. When things are going that well for you winning feels pretty easy. Even after the event, my 2 packs of Teen Titans had a Chase and a Prime so it wasn’t even as if my good fortune had finished. Sometimes everything you touch turns to gold (kryptonite) and for me it was one of those days. Here’s hoping the same happens in the finals!
 
Posted in Road to Nationals By

Felix Hughes

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Andrew Wood

posted on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 21:09:35 Europe/London
Awesome write-up buddy, was a great event!

Ian King

posted on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 20:51:55 Europe/London
Nice write-up thanks for this! Just the right level of detail. I'm almost tempted to try a tournament myself now rather than just the usual, casual play. Any chance you could loan me that luck? My critical miss streak seems to grow weekly!

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