Road to Nationals - Birmingham

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 10:18:00 Europe/London

UK Nationals Qualifier Part 2

 So this is the second tale of my trips around the UK, taking part in various qualifying tournaments leading up to the Nationals finals itself. The observant of you might have noticed a slight delay between my last article and this one. Well I must confess I had a bit of trouble writing this section, for reasons that will hopefully become clear!

 Qualifier 2: Modern Age Constructed at Wayland’s Forge in Birmingham

 So my I planned my trip to me second qualifying event. This would be my first trip to the store in Birmingham that could be found inside an old Custard Factory. I have to get a special mention here to the organiser: Anthony Chilton – who was able to provide me some excellent directions from the train station including a whole bunch of pictures he’d taken and replied to any questions I had.

So I packed up a few teams so I could decide on the day and headed off. Now here is where we get to the big heroclix quandary: My team was one that I’d played once a couple of days before (Though it did use some figures I really liked and had been playing with a lot). It also turned out to be quite good. More importantly than that I really enjoyed playing my games with it. So much so that I decided that it was going to be the team I took to the Nationals Final. So now I had to decide if I wanted to write about it here or save it up as a nice surprise at the end of May.

In the end I decided I’m going to keep it under my hat for a little while. This of course will make any game reports quite hard to write! I do have the notes I took so I will see about adding some more details later but for now I just have to say thanks to Neil, Chris, Darren, Scott and Rhys for some entertaining games. Thanks all for taking things in a good spirit. Congratulations to Darren for winning the qualifying slot.

 So now what?

This was the problem I had. It’s kind of hard to write about the events of games when you can’t tell anybody what was in your team! I can still list a few of my mistakes. I stood next to a Gluttony for way too long risking my resource. I missed a square of blocking terrain (to be fair it did blend into the map quite well!) that stopped my taking some early shots on my opponent’s biggest attacker. Twice my opponent was able to set up an unexpected shot on one of my key characters that I really should have positioned better to avoid. All good lessons to learn!

But that isn’t especially interesting either. So instead I thought I’d spend a little bit of time talking about some of the teams I had come up with to play at either the Nationals itself or at one of the qualifiers. The most important thing to note here is that everybody is going to build teams in a certain way. I definitely have my own style of team that I like to play and you’re going to see some of that in evidence here. So you have some idea as to what I might be aiming for I’m going to give you a list of the sorts of things I consider when trying to build a competitive team:
  1. I want the team to have characters I like. Either because I of their comic appearance or because I like the way they play in the game. (Ideally both!) Otherwise I’m not that interested. You’ll probably never see me playing with Batman for example.
  2. I prefer to prefer a more defensive style of game over an aggressive one. If I have the choice between having a guaranteed first attack or being able to absorb that from my opponent I will tend to choose the second
  3. I also tend to prefer to grind my way to victory. I’d rather first of a pulse wave dealing 1 damage to all opposing figures than 3 damage to one.
  4. I favour consistency over power. As with the above example I’d rather have 11 Attack and 3 Damage than 10 Attack and 4 Damage. This also means I love various powers that deal damage without needing to make rolls. This also means I get really annoyed by opposing characters with powers that let people avoid damage like Super Senses.
  5. I prefer teams with two (or ideally more!) attackers. I’ve played too many games where a lone attacker misses a crucial attack or is somehow neutralised by my opponent with something like barrier. Having another attacker gives me a bit more flexibility.


Of course every rule is made to be broken as we will now see: 

Team 1:
Zombie Doctor Doom
Greed with Omega Drive
Ion possessing Greed
Green Power Battery with Sniper Rifle, Nurse and Bulldozer
This team is basically combining two annoying features. Mystical Zombies (Doom is a Wild Card of course) and Greed with the Omega Drive and Outwit from an entity being able to knock out any key power in range. It actually played pretty well, mostly due to the power of Doom. Greed kind of wandered around and got killed! But it asks difficult questions of some opponents.

I actually think this team would be better with an Orange Power Battery. You can afford a little more in the way of constructs (Nurse, Decoy maybe). And without Pulse Wave dealing with the Mystic Doom will be much harder. You can also then potentially give Greed Ophidian to steal powers, though I would worry that he’s a lot more fragile in that case and loses the outwit easily. Alternatively you could find another character with the Mystics team ability to use instead of Gluttony. I like the idea of Envy or maybe Sloth (+his relic) personally though there are probably some other options out there.

I still like this team a lot, though it does suffer from really only having one good attacker. For all the interesting options Greed provides he isn’t the most offensive figure. And without probability control you are a little bit at the mercy of the dice, especially against high defence opponents. On the other hand Doom will make Gluttony’s life miserable! I also don’t own the Orange Battery I think this team really needs to be effective.


Team 2:

Flash Phantom Stranger (125 point starting line)
John Constantine
Tim Hunter
Phoenix Force with 4 fragments, attaching one to the Phantom Stranger

This team includes my favourite recent character (The Phantom Stranger) along with my favourite resource. The plan behind the team is quite simple. Phantom Stranger can carry his two buddies around. Tim can copy the powers from either him or Constantine (giving a minimum of four uses of Probability Control and maybe five!). Then when you have an opportunity you can launch the Phantom Stranger for an opening Pulse Wave with all those rerolls and some perplex or outwit to help you out. Once you can start spinning round the Phoenix Force (and leaving three fragments on it is definitely my favourite plan: once you lose Running shot you pick up Mastermind, Outwit and Precision Strike to finish off wounded enemies) the Phantom Stranger becomes increasingly hard to deal with. And if your opponent does go after your cheap support they have to deal with the Mystics Damage.

I’ve actually played this team more than the others I’ll talk about here. It’s been a lot of fun to play but definitely has issues. Other than the Phantom Stranger your other characters are really fragile and prone to being KOd by one attack. Even the Stranger himself only has 6 clicks of life and while they are quite well defended he’s certainly not invincible. The biggest culprit of this fragility has actually been John Constantine. He looks excellent on paper but once an enemy closes with him he’s in big trouble and one push leaves him much reduced. I intend to find a replacement for him that will inevitable bring a bit less support but will hopefully last a big longer and bring a bit more offence. The number one choice is Brother Voodoo. This leaves enough to assign him the Phoenix Force and add a couple of Bystanders to take advantage of the Mastermind I’ll hopefully reach. White Witch would also be an interesting option to slow down your opponent a bit.


Team 3:
Firstly a quick aside: My surprise favourite figure of last year was Iron Man 038 from the Invincible Iron Man set. That’s the one with the Personal Cloaking Device Trait that protects him from all sorts of nastiness (if you count being shot at as nasty….). In fact I liked him so much that I ran a pair of them as my team in last years’ UK Nationals:


UK Nationals 2014 team:

Iron Man 038 x2
Bethany Cabe
2 Bystanders
Phoenix Force with all the fragments assigned to both Iron Men
Now obviously I didn’t win. But this team did end up in 10th place. The thing was that most of the games were pretty one-sided one way or another. Some I won pretty easily and some I lost really badly. The thing is – the teams that I lost to seem to have fallen out of fashion somewhat. So the time might be right for an updated version.
Iron Man 038 x2
Pepper Potts
Green Lantern Power Battery with Crossbow, Net, Stop Sign, Bulldozer
5 points left so probably an ID card

 This team is intended to difficult to engage, trading move and attack options for super stealth and loads of ways to avoid getting tangled up in close combat. Willpower is one of the biggest things this version of Iron Man lacks, giving up a lot of tempo to your opponent. This team will hopefully try to solve that, dancing around opponents while chipping away at them. Pepper can provide some Support to help the attrition game and on the off chance my opponent tries to finish her off her trait lets Iron Man bring her back to life. And don’t forget even if one of the Iron Men does get KOd you might still get the Ancestral Spirit trait to come back for another few attacks! Not to mention any merge tricks with an Iron Man/War Machine duo you might have.

But much as I like this idea there are some obvious problems with this team. The main one is that your damage is really low! You are basically chipping away with 3 damage shots and hopefully a Crossbow construct here and there. If you end up trying to take on a TW Superman you could be in for a bad day! That said if you can pace your game correctly then hopefully your opponent won’t be dealing too much damage back to you and you might be able to get away with it, hunting down support figures for the win. Close combat teams will also be bad news if they can get to grips with you.

You can try to address some of these issues. I’ve included Pepper Potts but you can easily switch her out. I’ve thought about trying to use IM3 Tony Stark for the combined Enhancement/Outwit (you have to drop the Crossbow). You could try to squeeze in Splitlip, again for the cheap Enhancement while retaining theme bonuses. In this case you might consider the Book of Skulls for your resource to give out some Running Shot, though you have to be aware who picks up Willpower. Iron Man is also quite happy being possessed. I have tried him with Black Hand and that works really well. I’m sure that other entities would also fit in nicely. Most of them can boost his damage and add either some kind of movement power or some Willpower (in the form of Quintessence usually). But overall I think that he is still a puzzle waiting to be solved. I’m sure there’s a great team that uses him. I’m just not sure I’ve found it yet.

Team 4:

This theme of puzzles yet to be solved brings me to another figure that seems full of potential but that I’ve not been able to find a good home for: Jenny Sparks. On paper she looks excellent. She’s got great stats to go with her Pulse Wave and a trait that lets you get rid of all those annoying special powers for a turn at least. These are all the good points. On the other hand while she does have quite a long dial she isn’t especially hard to hurt. Especially as her lack of Willpower means she’s probably going to be hurting herself some turns. Now you can fix these issues with entities and resources but that starts taking up quite a lot of points. Still I wanted to come up with something so I decided to try and push her as an aggressive piece and alpha strike my way to victory. That meant I wanted a bit of support and a backup attacker to finish off wounded foes:


Jenny Sparks
Johnny Quick (Trinity War Main Set)
Star Labs Researcher
Book of Skulls with 8 Hammers

The plan for this team is pretty simple. Move out your team a little and hand out some hammers. Then use your combination of Telekinesis and two long range attackers to take out the most dangerous figures on the other team. Between Jenny’s Pulse Wave and Johnny’s juice you should be able to knock out most dangerous figures pretty quickly. There’s even 10 points left in this team so you might be able to adjust the figures a little. I think you want the probability control to protect Jenny from a critical miss but you could use a figure + Adara to provide that. The only important element is that you need your Telekinesis on a separate figure so you can fire out Jenny and still have the Probability Control in position.

Of course no team is perfect and the weakness in this one is pretty clear. This team is based on all-out offence. If your opponent is able to get into position to attack you the best you can do is hope they miss or rely on the vagaries of Super Senses! Positioning to avoid this while maximising your own chance to attack will be the key to success with this team.
I have to be honest here. This is a team I haven’t had a chance to play. I don’t even own all the figures! But this was a result of some brainstorming I did to try and come up with a team I thought that could make the best use of Jenny. I can’t even be sure that these figures are the best options. Another way to build the same general shape of team might be Jenny Sparks, Splitlip+Book of Skulls, JLTW Fast Forces Atomica and M10 Dark Phoenix at 100 points. The basic plan remains the same. Just the selection of figures is a little different. Ultimately though I found that Jenny Sparks would get one great attack in any given game and then get beaten up by the remains of my opponent’s team. So my advice: If you are happy with the Alpha Strike plan and feel a bit lucky I definitely think she can work. Just not for me!
The Last Words:

These are (with the exception of the Jenny Sparks teams) some of the things I have been trying with the aim of coming up with a nationals teams. All of these teams can definitely win a few games. (If you were going to ask me to choose the best I think it’s the first team. Zombie Doctor Doom has been incredible in every game I’ve played. It’s a pretty easy team to play and can manage plenty of different opponents. But based on my own preferences I think I’d choose the Phantom Stranger team and find a replacement for John Constantine). This doesn’t even include some of the figures I’ve played against. Just because we’ve had a few new sets since last year in no way invalidates some of those older figures.

Unless you were relying on Moleman I actually think that you could play most of the teams I saw in last year’s nationals and still do pretty well. In particular Fantomex and Team Bases can still be really hard for some opponents to deal with.
On top of that we’ve just had a brand new set. I personally think that there aren’t too many super-competitive figures in Avengers Assemble (though there are definitely some really cool ones!) so the impact isn’t going to be as high as some sets but there are a few gems in there. Juston Seyfert seems to be the standout figure but I’m also intrigued by Prime Starbrand and Arcade. And I’m pretty sure that somebody out there will manage to come up with something cunning using at least one of these new figures or even just the ID cards.
So although I hope these ideas give you at least a little bit of insight into the sort of teams I’ve been looking at I sincerely hope that you’ve come up with something even more amazing of your own, and I look forwards to playing against it at the Nationals!
Posted in Road to Nationals By

Felix Hughes

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Neil Ruppenthal

posted on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 21:38:02 Europe/London
Felix, your team was a nightmare to play against, but it was good fun to be beaten so mercilessly. So thanks.

Andrew Wood

posted on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 14:20:24 Europe/London
The teams you played against seem very familiar, I'm sure I've played against most of them with you using them!

Great write-up again, looking forward to the Nationals one!

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