Road to Nationals - Finals

Saturday, 12 September 2015 10:18:00 Europe/London

UK Heroclix Nationals 2015

 So after a bunch of qualifying events and a few practice games it was time for the UK Nationals, held again at the Game Expo in Birmingham. This time I was better prepared. I knew where things were, I had some cool teams and I was looking forwards to playing some fun games. Being already qualified meant I could relax for at least a couple of days and just enjoy playing (though I was also really looking forwards to the finals themselves). My target for the weekend was simple: Get into the top 8 of the Nationals and impress/confuse people with my choice of team. Now given how late this is you may already know the result of this but I’ll make at least some attempt at suspense!

I have one other confession – my notes for this event were in the same place as those for the last qualifier –that is to say misplaced during a house move. As a result I’m missing a few names. Apologies if one of these is you.

The Nationals Weekend games

Just a quick update on the structure of the event. The finals themselves would be held on Sunday. Friday and Saturday would be two large events, the top 8 of each would qualify for the finals themselves (32 people cutting down to a top 8). Friday would be sealed with Avengers Assemble, Saturday and the finals themselves would be Modern Age. In the case of somebody like me who was already qualified doing well in one of these events the spot would pass down to the next person on the list (so 9th for instance).

 For those that weren’t interested in qualifying there was also the chance to buy various convention exclusives and to take part in Battle Royales to win even more, so even if you don’t like hard core Heroclix tournaments there were plenty of chances to get something cool.

 Friday – Nationals Sealed Qualifier – Avengers Assemble

 Okay – so let’s be honest here. Sealed games aren’t the most interesting to read about. They are kind of fun when the set is new but Avenger’s Assemble is already history now the Nick Fury is around. And there aren’t that many useful things you can learn about building teams other than opening a Chase is a pretty good start! So to keep things moving at a reasonable pace I’m going to go through this section pretty quickly.

If you are interested just remember – Avengers Assemble is full of guys with 10 Attack, 17 Defence and 3 Damage so anybody that beats this trend is a good start!

 My packs were as follows: Master Pandemonium, Jarvis, D-Man, Falcon, Living Lightning, Hazmat, Justice, Son of the Serpent, Scarlet Spider, Aleph, Mockingbird ID card

My team was Master Pandemonium, Hazmat, Falcon, Mockingbird ID card.

Basically I didn’t have any really powerful attackers at all so I decided to go with the sort of figures I like. Mystics and Poison are two of my favourite things. Falcon got the nod over Living Lightning because his Attack doesn’t drop like a rock after one damage and his defences overall were better, along with the close combat expert.

The plan in every game was the same. My first turn would be spent with Master Pandemonium making his demonic arms and then sending them zooming forwards to tie up my opponent and force them to deal with it while my other characters just relaxed and waited for some victims.

 Round 1:

Vs Tino with Black Swan, Black Widow, Triathlon

Tino very helpfully failed all his rolls to break away with Black Widow’s Sidestep. This meant she got steadily poisoned to death by expendable arms. Even worse my threat range on Falcon was slightly longer than his team so he was forced to move up, got hit hard by the close combat expert backed up by the Master’s Probability Control and that was it.

Round 2:

Mystery Opponent with Hood (Full points) and Spider-Woman.

Carbon Copy here. Demonic Arms jumped all over Spider-Woman to avoid too much mystics feedback while Hood sidestepped inexorably towards me hiding behind a wall. I was hoping to be able to force him to start pushing to the good clicks but my opponent didn’t like this plan so eventually the demonic arms jumped all over him as well. One even managed a Critical Hit once The Hood had reached his Infinity-Powered click (taking him exactly from one stop click to the next!) Hazmat just sealed the deal.

Round 3:

Darren with Abyss, Red Wolf, Justice

You’ll never guess what my opening plan was! While the demonic arms were harassing Justice the rest of Darren’s team moved forwards. Hazmat got to Sidestep in to start poisoning while Red Wolf kept sending in Lobo (though he did forget on one key turn). Abyss did get to hit me with her massive poison but I’d nibbled away the rest of the team. There was one horrible moment where a final click Hazmat was nearly Mind Controlled to take on Master Pandemonium (and herself with Mystics Damage) but happily missed. That left Abyss in range of a Pulse Wave and that was that.

Round 4:

Anthony with Star Brand (Normal), Hellcat and Jarvis.

Demonic Arms. Blah Blah Blah. We ended up in a closely packed scrap. Obviously here Hazmat was great and Master Pandemonium even managed to land a Running Shot Psychic Blast on Starbrand without any arms! Anthony’s clicks were being slowly nibbled away so he ended up just Pulse Waving everybody (including his guys) to avoid Mystics damage. When a game reaches this stage you know that it’s not likely to end well. And for him it didn’t

Round 5:

Ed with Chase Hulk at 300 points

There were 3 people undefeated at this point. Ed was the one I was hoping to avoid as I was pretty sure Hulk would smash me. Turns out I was right though the game was a lot closer than I expected. Hulk missing his first attack helped for one thing and I was able to chip through his dial finally getting to his stop click. And then through all the tokens. I had one attack from a Demonic Arm that would have actually got him but he chose just that time to miss and with that the opportunity was lost, Hulk ran off and managed to finally regenerate.

So congratulations to Ed who got joint first place with Andrew (Running a 5 person teams of various kids packing lots of and lots of Shape Change, taking down King Thor in the final round). I ended up around 6th which seemed like a good result from my boosters (though Master Pandemonium was loads of fun).

And with that Friday was over.

Saturday: Nationals Constructed Qualifier - 300 point Modern

This is much more like it. I actually really like competitive constructed games. You can hear a lot about opponents out to win at all costs and teams that aren’t fun to play against but in my experience that’s never really been true. Pretty much every Heroclix player I’ve met in an event has been fine. And sure – there are some teams you’d rather not have to deal with – but that can happen in any format (like a 300 point Hulk!). Right now there are plenty of different ways to build a team and do well.

For this event I’d decided to use a team based around my favourite figure released this year (And in fact a team I’ve already written about on this site). The Phantom Stranger from the Flash set. For me he’s the perfect combination of elements. I like the character a lot (Though ideally pre Nu-52), I like the sculpt and I really like the dial. It’s fully of powers and combinations I like using. I love the full point dial but at 300 points I really wanted another attacker and that meant playing him slightly cheaper. The team was:

 Mystical Theme

Flash Phantom Stranger (125)
Brother Voodoo (79)
Tim Hunter (58)
Photographer (3)
Phoenix Force (Full assigned to Phantom Stranger and Brother Voodoo) (33)
In every game I assigned Magick to Brother Voodoo, Cyclops to Phantom Stranger and picked Colossus at the start of each turn but one. Here the Force give Running Shot and +1 Damage which is just what those two characters need.
 

Round 1:

Mystery Opponent with Brainiac’s Skull Ship, Harlequin (50 points), Yellow Power Battery with Constructs

 This was going to be a tricky game. My opponent’s plan was pretty simple. Get the Yellow Battery bonus for the Skull Ship making it really hard to deal with, hoover up some cities and then beat up my guys. The game started with the ship moving around collecting cities. I managed to get an early Pulse Wave from the Phantom Stranger to knock a few clicks off it and a few more were taken from Mystics damage when he hit back. All okay so far.

Unfortunately this convinced my opponent that he should be spending more time in travel mode with a 19 Defence. The Phantom Stranger had lost his Pulse Wave which meant actually hitting the Skullship was rather difficult so my plan changed. I managed to KO Harley Quinn so I was ahead on points and now did my best to keep attacking the Skullship while keeping my team alive. Brother Voodoo’s contribution to his was occasionally hitting with Mind Control to send the Skull Ship as far away as possible but damage was hard to come by. There was one potentially bad moment where the ship had reached a click on the tentacle dial that let it make multiple attacks. Luckily for me it needed Line of Fire for those and Tim Hunter was copying Brother Voodoo’s stealth so I dodged what would have been a winning attack. In the end I’d managed to power up Tim so was getting ready to go after the ship again when time was called and that Harley KO gave me the win.

 

Round 2:

Nathan with Death’s Head (possessed by Ophidian), Juston Seyfert, Atomica (Fast Force) Orange Power Battery with some constructs, Bystander

I liked this team purely for having Death’s Head on it. (I own his original comic run from years ago). Basically a hard hitting tent pole with Juston giving Death’s Head the Mobility he was missing. There was no way I was going to get the first attack on this team so I just moved up as defensively as I could. Death’s Head came steaming in but Nathan wasn’t happy that he could get in a good Pulse Wave position so started making normal attacks instead, taking some Mystics damage in return but hitting me reasonably hard. Thankfully I had a plan for this.

The Phantom Stranger picked up my whole team and we were able to redeploy right next to Juston, leaving Death’s Head and Atomica isolated. KOing Juston and the Bystander also powered up my Phoenix Force. Atomica was next, being burnt down by the Poison effect of the shards leaving Death’s Head alone fighting some Phoenix Powered guy in a hat (With friends). Turns out Hypersonic Speed and +2 to all Combat Values is pretty good!

 

Round 3:

Another Mystery Opponent. Using Highfather (Possessed by Parallax I think), Hope Summers (Possessed by Proselyte), 2 Blind Al’s and a Yellow Power Battery

So this was the Highfather combo, where he takes damage as quickly as possible to let Hope Summers copy his power to change into Takion. This gets you a Hypersonic Pulse Waver for 75 points while also blocking your opponent’s most expensive figure from fighting back. It’s a really nice combo but thankfully I had the tools to deal with it.

I moved up first, with the Stranger under the pact filling the role of taxi. On my opponent’s turn Blind Al dinked Hope and Highfather and he ran around picking up some action tokens. Time for my master plan. I picked Telekinesis from the Emma Frost Shard and the Stranger sent Brother Voodoo forwards. He was then able to use the running shot and Energy Explosion to KO one Blind Al and soften up the other. Voodoo’s free Mind Control then sent the remaining Blind Al wandering out of the starting area and to inevitable doom.

This chain of events crippled my opponent’s combo, leaving him with two figures he’d already damaged and me untouched. Highfather needed two more damage to reach his transformation power and that would take 4 turns. Making things worse the Phoenix Force was now handing me Outwit so at my next opportunity I flew over next to Hope and made sure she wasn’t going to turn into Takion. Voodooo’s next trick was breaking the Pact by Mind Controlling Hope letting the Phantom Stranger get back to work. To add insult to injury Hope Summers Plasticity powered break away failed leaving her to get finished off.

Highfather did eventually make the transformation but being stuck on phasing meant there was no way he was able to reach me. KOing Hope has return Running Shot to my team and Takion was outgunned. It was a perfect example of one clever team (And I really liked the concept of it) running into an unexpected team that had the perfect tools to counter it.

 

Round 4:

Oscar with Jenny Sparks (Possessed by Ophidian), Engineer (90 points, Possessed by Ion), Super-Fan (Oscar’s MVP), Orange Power Battery with a Wall, Sniper Rifle and something else.

So this team could potentially take away my useful powers and spend lots of time hiding behind a barriers. Engineer’s short dial meant Ion was granting the team Willpower. It also happened that my ability to do arithmetic failed somewhat this game.

We both moved very cagily at first. Oscar was handing out constructs and waiting behind his barriers for me to get close enough to attack. I was equally moving carefully trying to avoid a Pulse Wave from Jenny knocking out the Phantom Stranger. Eventually I spotted an opening. Brother Voodoo helped out by the Phoenix Force (again) was able to shoot down just the right square of the barrier hiding The Engineer letting the Phantom Stranger swoop in with a single target Pulse Wave that knocked her off the map.

This obviously forced Oscar’s hand. He had to use Jenny to attack back and began. The move had put my ahead but had also cost my any Running Shot until I could KO the Super-Fan (or ideally Jenny). I could have retreated and forced him to come to me without his Willpower and with double outwit to block his Pulse Wave but that’s not fun. I managed to get the Super-Fan and landed a big hit on Jenny. Unfortunately my bad positioning meant his Power Battery was able to support her back to almost top dial. From there she was able to KO Brother Voodoo. This left me in a quandary. I’d gone to the effort of getting Running Shot back only to lose it again. The +2 to all combat values was very nice but Jenny’s Pulse Wave meant she was still really dangerous. It was a bit of a stand-off.

This was the source of my arithmetic issues. I thought I was ahead on points when in fact I was slightly behind. The only option I had would be to move up and base Jenny, soak up the Pulse Wave and then hopefully hit back enough to cripple her. About the time I realised this time was called. Oops. I think that if I’d take the coward’s way out early on, running back once The Engineer was defeated I could have won the game but that’s hardly the way Super-Heroes fight.

 

Round 5:

Howard with Deadman, Resurrection Man, Grasshopper, Red Power Battery with a Wall and some other less important constructs.

The plan for Howard’s team was pretty simple. With Grasshopper jumping around and hiding behind his wall it’s rather hard to KO Deadman and Resurrection Man. While you are trying to work out how to deal with them all Deadman and Resurrection Man are playing aggressively trying to do as much damage as they can while you try to repeatedly KO Grasshopper.

Well unless you have a team like mine. I’d seen this sort of team before and had a plan in mind to deal with it. It started with me going first, getting a nice map and steadily moving my team into the centre of the map. Howard handed out some constructs (including the Wall to Grasshopper who ran off to his favourite corner) and then fell into my cunning trap.

He decided he was going to attack somebody (Tim Hunter in this case being shot by Deadman). This gave me a chance to use the Phantom Stranger’s special Probability Control to remove an action token. When Grasshopper waited one more turn to Maximum Jump I had an opportunity. (Howard thought Grasshopper was safe for this turn – he was planning on jumping away next). Brother Voodoo used the Phoenix Force again to running shot up and take out a barrier. This then let him Mind Control Grasshopper to jump down into the perfect position for the now free to act Phantom Stranger to land a Pulse Wave and actually KO him. With any jumping antics dealt with it was then a matter of organising my attacks to get both Deadman and Resurrection Man off the map at the same time before they were able to do too much damage. Howard got close to taking down Brother Voodoo before I managed this but he managed to survive repeated poisoning.

 

The Final Results:

Well my team did better than I expected, finishing in 4th place overall. I put this down to a number of factors. Overall I think that opposing teams matched up in my favour most of the time. This was helped by the fact that other than Brother Voodoo my figures were not exactly common in the competitive teams out there so I don’t think anybody really knew exactly what they were up against while I knew most of the opposing figures very well indeed. That kind of information gap definitely gives you an advantage, knowing how hard you need to hit somebody and what risks you can take. The Phoenix Force was also key in handing out Running Shot early. I could have achieved the same result with the Book of Skulls but using that would either have prevented me being a theme team (and Map Choice was very useful) or severely curtailed my tempo, forcing me to spend the first turns equipping rather than moving directly into a threatening position. Again I knew the Phoenix Force dial well so was able to play around the different powers it would grant me to good advantage. I was also playing pretty well on Saturday, spotting what I needed to do to win in most of the games. (Even if I was a little late in doing so against Oscar!)

 

Updating the Team:

Now while I really liked this team Brother Voodoo’s retirement means I won’t be able to play it in Modern Age events any more (And don’t forget the photographer as well). That means a change or two is required. I want to keep the mystical theme so I’m looking for a character around 80 points. I came up with two options. The first of these is Felix Faust. If I’d remember that I owned one I would actually have played him instead of Brother Voodoo in the event. (Please note that I hadn’t worked out all his evilness prior to Worlds at all – I would have done it because it would have given me a team of entirely DC characters!) Now he’s been hit by some much-needed errata but would still give you a good option. He won’t be crippling opposing teams quite as often but he’ll still manage it now and again. The Perplex is also a nice power to have access to with Tim Hunter’s potential double tap. The second choice is back to Marvel with Yondu from the Guardians of the Galaxy comic set. He gives me a much more aggressive option, letting my attack characters in range no matter how well hidden with some pretty solid stats (And don’t forget the +1 Damage from the opening clicks on the Phoenix Force). I’m not actually the biggest fan of Yondu but I suspect he may be the best choice.

There are some other interesting options out there. Amethyst from Legion of Superheroes has a really interesting power mix, though she doesn’t benefit as much from the Phoenix Force. I also like the idea of White Witch for making my opponent’s lives miserable though doing so means I would need to find a replacement for Tim Hunter. This was something I was considering anyway. I really like Tim and he does (if given time) provide the possibility of a really dangerous attacker but he is also guilty of being a bit of a gimmick. Now I do love running these cute figures in teams but I will admit that it isn’t always the best use of my points. Happily there is a pretty good replacement out there already in the form of the Scarlet Witch from Age of Ultron. She’s just a little bit cheaper than Tim, a much better attacker, and bring the always useful Perplex along with the possibility of unleashing the beast. Her, White Witch, Phantom Stranger and the Phoenix Force is 300 on the nose and could be quite good. For a more aggressive version replace White Witch with Yondu and an 8 point Bystander. Both seem solid enough to me.

 But that was the end of the qualifying events. Next up was Sunday itself and finals. A top 32 with a lot of people I recognised playing out to get in to the top 8. Soon it would be time to unleash my secret weapon!

If you want to read how Felix gets on in the Finals stay tuned for his next article coming next week. 

Posted in Road to Nationals By

Felix Hughes

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