UK Nationals - Review

Thursday, 5 June 2014 08:00:00 Europe/London

Greetings to all Blue Rat readers! Today is Monday 2nd June, the day after the Heroclix UK National Championship Finals and I've been asked, after some mild bribery, to type up a report of my experiences. I'm going to start with a disclaimer that some of my memories are blurred and I admit that occasionally the numbers and clicks of damage as I remember them don't always stand up to close scrutiny, so I apologise in advance to those of you hoping to recreate key moments in this epic tale of heroism, bravery and one Blue Rat's dangerous obsession with barrier. I'm Alex Crow and as of yesterday I am the UK National Champion. If I turn up at your event wearing a Sinestro-corp T-shirt and a smug grin then know that both are justified. But enough of the introductions, you know how the story ends, so on with how it started! 

Round 1
Ed Bentley
Future theme: 3 Science Police, Gates, Franklin Richards, Power Plant

For my first match of the tournament I sat down across from Ed, a friendly player i had met in the Realms Open Championships (ROC) in April. He however didn't recognise me and politely introduced himself. We chatted about the ROC with Ed asking if i had managed to make it (i had placed fourth at the event, certainly a memorable achievement for me!). We rolled for initiative and he won the roll (unsurprising really with +5 initiative), choosing the Apokolips Firepits map from SLoSH. On his first turn Ed used Gates' 'teleport disks' power to carry his entire team within eight squares of my starting area in the trench. I ran Lydea to the bottom of his formation, basing a police officer and Franklin with the intention of quaking with a hammer next turn. I followed on by moving White Witch carrying Splitlip up onto the elevation, out of the line of fire of Ed's team. I gave an action to my Super Fan to drop Nerkodd's hammer on Splitlip who picked it up for free (not having been given an action he didn't trigger the Science Police's tactical deployment). On hnis turn, Ed succeeded in breaking away with the police and sidestepped to the back of his formation, opening up the police officer that had previously been behind that one to shoot Lydea. I failed my shape change roll and got crit-hit for four damage including Franklin's enhancement. Ed then attacked with the aforementioned Franklin to put Lydea on her stop click, then passed the turn to me.

At the start of turn I dropped Angrir's hammer on Lydea and free-action quaked Franklin into the wall of the trench for extra damage. I spun the book, action-ed Splitlip to drop Nul'shammer on White Witch. Lydea then used 'space warp' and phased 10 squares away (outside of the science police aura) into the cluster of hindering terrain near (but more than 5 squares away from) his starting area. She free-regenerated from the warp and rolled a four, healing for two. I love stop clicks! For my last action Brother Voodoo moved up and White Witch cleared. Ed surprised me next by using Gates to carry his entire team back to base Lydea once more. I was fully expecting him to move on the (in my opinion) more vulnerable group of Witch, Splitlip, Brother Voodoo. He positioned all three Science Police in a row basing Lydea - something he later admitted was a clear mistake (their sidestep could have put them into close combat next turn and avoided my obvious next move). At the start of my turn, i assigned Lydea the book and dropped a random hammer on her. the resulting quake knocked one police officer off a wall, killing him, took another off his 'tactical deployment' and healed Lydea for a further three clicks (from Angrir's hammer's steal energy). This was the beginning of the end for Ed. I perplexed down the damage of the only figure of his that could do the two damage needed to hurt Lydea through the hammer's toughness and had the Witch make a running shot to finish off the last policeman with tactical deployment, accepting the feedback as a reasonable cost. Ed's team had had its teeth pulled but he manfully shrugged it off and attempted to chip away at Lydea again using empower. I don't remember if he succeeded but i finished off the rest of his team without loss on my side, securing my first victory.

Round 2
Ralph Redfern
200pt New Mutants teambase, Wolfsbane w/ Utility Belt

Ralph, another ROC veteran, definitely remembered me and we shared a chuckle over his destruction of my ROC sealed team with his Takion. He was playing a New Mutants team that i had seen and played before - i expected him to spend his first few turns solo'ing Magik and someone else (Sunspot being my favorite) then to use Magik's double-speed carry to lift them both into combat while simultaneously clicking Wolfsbane off her activation-click. He won the roll to start (something that would become a theme throughout the day) and chose the new Oan map to play on. I started by taking his handcuffs from the belt with Lydea and continued by carefully counting out squares. I placed my three objects very tactically - one in front of lydea and the remaining two in the corners of the central blocking terrain. As expected, Ralph spawned a Magik and ended his turn. I moved Lydea into the first of my placed objects, picking up the heavy that i had laid in front of her on the way. I then action-ed the super fan to drop Angrir's hammer on her, moved White Witch up six squares carrying Splitlip again.

On Ralph's turn he spawned Sunspot and teleported all three single-base figs to base Splitlip and the White Witch. On my turn i agonised and confessed to Ralph that i had set up an audacious plan of the type that i really shouldn't attempt in a major tournament and now that it was crunch-time i was in two minds whether to play safe and abandon my reckless ideas. Ralph exclaimed that the thought of making a risky move was almost making me vibrate with excitement! I agreed with his assessment and carried out my planned alpha-strike, assigning the book to Lydea and using its perplex on her speed. I declared a charge with Lydea and with her 'Wrapped in Shadow' ability she was placed in the object five squares in front of her before charging seven squares to hit the team base with a heavy object, far from the safety-net of Brother Voodoo's probability control or the backup of the rest of my team. Fortunately i hit and began the epic battle of a 200 point team base versus the 79 point evil clone! White Witch had similarly succeeded in quaking after Nul's hammer fell on her at the start of my turn, knocking Magik back into a bush and chipping away at Sunspot. I teleported Brother Voodoo onto a high vantage-point where he could see the unfolding battle below him and had White Witch punch Sunspot again, putting him on his 11 atk, running shot, pulse wave click. Brother Voodoo then used his free mind-control to have Sunspot pulsewave Magik (she had energy shield and was sat in a bush - the lure of friendly Mystics feedback was overridden by the desire to not roll against 20 defense).

On Ralph's turn he used blade/claws/fangs on Splitlip with Wolfsbane and rolled a six. Dead dwarf. The New Mutants teambase had two tokens and had to clear (as did Lydea). Magik and Sunspot tried to shoot back against Brother Voodoo but both missed. Over the next few turns i had Ralph's Sunspot repeatedly pulse wave Magik while Lydea chased the team base around the map and the White Witch fired shots at all comers. When the dust settled, i emerged victorious with only Splitlip ko'd and significantly more than the usual 300-ish points for a victory!
After such an awesome clash of titans, Ralph and I joined Tino Cazzato and Chris Dunn in a quick bite to eat before the next round started, making it back to the tournament area with easily three whole minutes before the next round started!

Round 3
Matt Hardy
Legion of Superheroes theme: Tellus, Phantom Girl (w/ Suit of Sorrows Utility Belt), Cosmic Boy, Skadi's Warbot (with flight and Legion keyword from Cosmic Boy), Captured Warbot, Legion Lost ata.

Matt very kindly massaged my ego before our match by telling me that he had hoped to not play me in the tournament. He won the initiative roll (of course) and chose to play in Deadpool's 'Shopping Mall' map, also choosing mystics for the Legion Lost. I used Lydea to steal the Suit of Sorrows from his Utility Belt, significantly reducing her threat (in my opinion). Matt seemed a little stunned that i could do that but after reading Lydea's card recovered and positioned his team. I moved my team to the entrance of the store  that i'd started in, dropped Angrir's hammer on Lydea with an action from Splitlip before having him taxied up with White Witch. Matt followed by running Tellus around with the aim of having Cosmic Boy and the Warbot shoot through walls at me and used Phantom Girl to disrupt some of my character's connection to the book, after having been tk'd by Cosmic Boy. She tried to poke at one of the characters but missed. My return volley was either shape-changed or super-sensed away but after a few turns of dancing around, Phantom Girl and Tellus were dead while Lydea based the two pogs with poison showing on the book. Not too much later i was again victorious without losing a character. Matt was clearly disappointed but shook my hand and we wished each other luck for the next match. On to round 4!

Round 4
Chris Dunn
Iron Pharaoh, CW Scarlet Witch, White Witch, Skadi's Warbot, Power Plant

It was as inevitable as a rising tide. Eventually i had to play Chris Dunn: owner and operator of Blue Rat games, possessor of a Newcastle accent, scoundrel, bounty hunter, wanted in over a dozen star systems for inappropriate manipulation of a Venusian Duchess. Okay, maybe only some of those things are true. Maybe. But it was certainly true that Chris and i had played a number of times and to my memory my record was 50/50 at best. Chris is also an enormous fan of a team that never has to leave his starting area and if he can add in barrier to the equation then all the better! We had playtested the previous night when Chris was using two Astral Dr Strange's instead of the Warbot but i was informed that our testing session had unnerved him to such a significant degree that he had changed his team at the last minute to have the extra firepower of the warbot! Chris won the initiative roll and chose his favorite Fire Pits of Apokolips map from SLoSH so his starting area was on low terrain. I had also confided in Chris the previous night that whenever I play him I ignore the winning strategy of 'kill an astral strange, avoid the slow-moving falcon for 30 mins' and always give in to my impulses to make the game more fun and actually try and take the fight to his starting area which usually results in my losing. 

True to form I used Lydea to take his Impact Beam ring and positioned my objects to allow Lydea to charge into his starting area, seeking a decisive victory with penetrating knock back damage from Lydea when the Pharaoh hit the edge of the map. Sadly Chris realised what i had planned and used the Warbot to shoot out the object that Lydea was standing in (without starting in hindering she cant trigger her shadow-step power). Frustrated, instead of killing the Warbot i tried to position Lydea at the bottom of the map away from the range of the Iron Pharaoh's falcon. This almost proved to be a fatal mistake - i had forgotten that one of the rings that had been placed on the Pharaoh gave +1 range and the Iron Pharaoh could see Lydea from where he was. Chris outwitted Lydea's shape change and hit her for 5 damage to leave her on her stop click, sitting on two action tokens. I began to sweat as I realised that I was one successful attack away from losing a place in the final to my own mistake and lack of impulse control. I tried to have the White Witch kill the warbot that I should have taken out turns ago and failed. I moved Brother Voodoo up the field and cleared Lydea, dreading what came next. Chris loaded up Iron Pharaoh with modifiers from his pit crew and declared an attack on Lydea, forgetting to outwit her shape change! I rolled. A hush fell over the room, the air seemed to thicken and hang heavy around us. Somewhere in the distance i heard a pin drop as the small cube slowly bounced end over end across the table. Agonisingly slowly it clattered to a halt. Showing six. Chris's furious scream of 'ROC dice!!' exploded out as he shook his fist at the green cube showing 'ROC 2014' (at this point i will pause in my narrative to explain for the uninitiated - if you, dear reader, are unfamiliar with the custom-made green dice given out at this year's ROC you will be similarly unaware of the gypsy curse laid upon them that confers improved luck to the damned souls that choose to wield them. Chris himself used a pair until they turned upon him).

Suddenly the pall had lifted and the game was open again; Lydea had no tokens whereas the Iron Pharaoh had two and must clear next turn (losing his Power Plant rings). The Warbot was still out in the open and i could still enact what should have been my original plan of 'kill the bot, run, profit'. Chris passed the turn, deflated. Lydea teleported away and regenerated off her stop click. In yet another foolish move I had White Witch move closer to the 'bot before shooting, however she hit, Chris failed his super sense roll and Brother Voodoo teleported away to begin the exodus. A judge announced that only minutes were left and after clearing the Pharaoh Chris realised he had one chance for victory: I had left White Witch within range of the Pharaoh's falcon. He gave the Pharaoh the Electro Blast ring, loaded up as much damage as he could, used his White Witch to prevent any stat modifiers (like my Witch's energy shield) and hit her. By a stroke of luck, I had dropped a hammer on her in a previous turn that gave toughness, soaking the one damage that would have killed her. Time was called and Chris shook my hand, regretting mistakes made.

Round 5 - the finals
Richard Tinsley
Hellfire Club team base

The last match had come right down to the wire but I had squeezed through by the skin of my teeth. I had made it to the finals! My opponent was Rich Tinsley, a man I'd had the fortune to play against a number of times both at Zoneout in Doncaster and Patriot Games in Sheffield as well as at the first tournament in Patriot Games Leeds. I had one last gulp of cough mixture left from the bottle that had been calming my persistent cough all day but before i could drink it, I dissolved into a fit of wracking coughs prompting Rich to comment that neither of us were at the peak of health. Indeed he looked a little worn down. As i drank my cough-suppressant we rolled for initiative and for the last time I lost. Rich chose to play on the Deadpool 'Submarine' map, and used his objects to create a 2x2 square of hindering terrain just outside his starting area. I was inwardly pleased - this was not the first time i had played a Hellfire Club team base. In fact I had played it at length with the team i was currently using (when i had initially designed my team before the ROC it was with the aim of beating Shuma-gorath and Hellfire Club teams), and I knew that short of staggering misplays on my part or brilliant tactics by Rich, the match up was in my favour. On his first turn Richard moved the teambase into the pre-made hindering square and spawned a Black King. For my part I meticulously announced White Witch's 'mystical energy' power (with the aim of avoiding the missplays i mentioned earlier) and moved my team about two thirds of the way up the map, into a room, dropping Skadi's hammer on Lydea and placing her in hindering terrain. Richard passed and I again dropped more hammers, used White Witch and cleared.

Richard passed once more. I dropped my fourth and fifth hammers, used White Witch and also passed. Perhaps realising what I was doing, Rich suddenly used phasing/teleport to move his team base into the hindering terrain inside my room and ran Black King up to them. My turn started, I used White Witch and dropped my sixth and seventh hammers, achieving power cosmic for all my figures and the optimum +3 attack on the relevant parties. Brother Voodoo teleported to base the team and the Black King and used mind control with 13 attack on the King's 16 defense. 'I succeed on anything but a double one', I confidently announced, only to promptly roll the aforementioned double one. Rich burst into laughter and I, deflated, used probability control to achieve 'not double one'. Rich chanced using his team base's probability control but I was again successful. I announced that the Black King was going for a walk and rolled to break away, succeeding. Internally i knew that was the penultimate nail in the coffin for the Hellfire Club. Next, Lydea charged out of her hindering terrain to use exploit weakness on the base, having had her damage perplexed up from the Book of the Skull and carrying a heavy object. I only needed a five to hit and got it, dealing six penetrating damage to the base without mastermind fodder adjacent. After the action resolved i had Lydea use 'wrapped in shadows' to step back into the hindering terrain that she had started in, and out of combat with the base. Finally, Brother Voodoo produced a free smoke cloud stretching into the map's corridor to stop the Black King from rejoining the team base.

Richard tried to attack out but was prevented from shooting out of combat with Brother Voodoo, who he missed. Over the next few turns, Brother Voodoo repeatedly sent the Black King away while preventing him from being able to base the team. Lydea repeatedly charged and exploited the teambase with a succession of perplexed damage values, objects and stat boosts from the book. Rich tried one last gambit and gave up on attacking my 18 defense prime, instead running out of the hindering terrain and being pursued by the Black King. After Brother Voodoo made the Black King run in the opposite direction for the final time, the White Which made a running shot on an un-stealthed Hellfire club for four damage after Splitlip's enhancement. Realising the match could only go one way, Rich shook my hand to end my last game of the weekend. I had made it, I was the Heroclix UK national champion!

So there it is. My tale of the day, from my perspective. Far less interesting but slightly more humorous is the tale of how i made it home to Leeds on the train with all my prize support and purchases from the weekend! But i'll leave that for another time. Next stop, Essen, for the European championships. See you there!

Posted in Team Talk By

Alex Crow

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elliott weights

posted on Tuesday, 8 July 2014 14:27:19 Europe/London
A very deserving champion. I was so close to playing you in the final!

John Barber

posted on Thursday, 5 June 2014 13:38:18 Europe/London
The best thing here is every person you played finished top 8,

Samual Grieve

posted on Thursday, 5 June 2014 12:53:36 Europe/London
Congratulations Alex, a proper gent from the first time I met you at the ROC and a deserving champion.

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