Weekend Wars

I selected my first team very carefully. What I knew from prior email with Tony was that he’d managed to dig out his Nightcrawler fig (from Clobberin’ Time). This is a formidable figure in every way – first, it still goes for around $50 on Ebay, and second, a 14 Movement with HyperSonic Speed, a 10 Attack, and an 18 Defense with Super Senses is nothing to sneer at. Under my House Rules, where HyperSonic Speed characters can trade off movement points for multiple close combat attacks, this kind of fig can be absolutely deadly. All I could count on was that since Tony hadn’t played clix in years, he wouldn’t be up on his Feat Cards, and most likely wouldn’t add an Armor Piercing to Nightcrawler, making him truly lethal (Armor Piercing is the default option add to any HyperSonic Speed fig under my rules; nobody every plays HSS around here with out it, if they have the build points to include it).

So I’d focused on building a team with high enough attack values to hit the lousy little elf, at least one click of Outwit with which to get rid of that rotten power Super Senses, and a decent range so I could do all this from across the board, if necessary. Factor into this that I also wanted the usual spread of Absolutely Vital Powers – along with Outwit, that would be Perplex, Probability Control, some Incapacitate, and something to get past resistant defenses (like Psychic Blast or Exploit Weakness).

I’m more hobbled than the average HeroClix player in that I generally refuse to simply cobble together a team in which the only important features are the points and powers on the dial. I generally don’t enjoy running such teams; I like to play teams that have a central theme reflecting something integral to the character – either something more or less in continuity (an Avengers team, a Defenders team, a JLA team, etc) or something maybe with a weirder, cross dimensional team (I have a Legion of Hell team in mind to play someday that would feature such worthies as Hellboy, both Ghost Riders, Etrigan the Demon, the Patsy Walker LE, Arcane… you know, folks like that).

After giving it a lot of thought and going back and forth on it, I finally settled on a group I haven’t played very much in the past – HYDRA (in HeroClix, the HYDRA Team Ability covers AIM, as well as a few Nazi figures (Red Skull, Baron Blood, Baron Strucker). Few HYDRA figs are all that powerful, but there are a lot of them, and they cover a decent range of powers. Eventually, for my team I picked the following –

Madame Hydra – LE of the very cheap Viper figure from an early set. Unlike her REV, this LE has a 10 Range and a 2 Damage, with RCE. At 39 points Madame Hydra is a few points cheaper than the Vet Viper and does a lot more damage at a much greater range. As the HYDRA TA adds +1 to any Missile Attack value for every adjacent team member, I figured I could pretty easily put a couple of cheap HYDRA minions on either side of her and get her mediocre 9 Attack Value up to a respectable 11. She was my shooter.

Baron Strucker – a Unique from the latest set, Sinister. My Swiss Army knife character, whose dial includes Leadership, Perplex, Outwit, Super Strength, Blade/Claws/Fangs, Stealth, and Mastermind, among others. At 74 points he was a little pricey for a HYDRA team member, especially with an Inspiring Command Feat Card, which basically allowed any of his team members to move two turns in a row without taking push damage, if they began or ended their movements in a square adjacent to him... but he turned out to be well worth it,

One of the advantages, in my quirky mind, of running HYDRA was that I could justify adding the following figure to my line up --

The Scientist Supreme – an LE of a standard AIM Medic, the Scientist Supreme has slightly better stats and a few more powers – Incapacitate and Energy Shield/Deflection -- than the REV. The Incapacitate is largely wasted, as I’d never do anything with a Medic besides use it to heal a damaged figure. But the Energy Shield/Deflection is sweet; anything that makes a Medic harder to kill is very welcome. At 23 points, this fig is a steal. Normally I won’t run a medic, because I strongly feel superhero teams shouldn’t have them (you never see the Avengers, the X-Men, or the Suicide Squad running into combat with a bone-setter trotting at their heels in the comics, after all) but a largely non-powered team can justify including one, I think.

A Veteran Dreadnaught – a big clunky robot used by various criminal organizations in the Marvel Universe that is programmed to destroy you. Not all that powerful as defined by HeroClix, which may be fair, given the extensive list of heroes who have managed to defeat dozens of them in pitched battle. (The LE of this piece, the Silver Dreadnaught, is considerably better in combat, and virtually impossible to find in the secondary market… I’d love to have one, and have never seen hide nor hair of one for sale or trade anywhere.) But even the Vet has some Toughness, a decent range, a 9 Attack Value, Incapacitate, and that invaluable HYDRA TA, and I mostly put him in the team so he could be hauled around by –

M.O.D.O.K. – the Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. Probably the ugliest single HeroClix figure ever made, and if not my favorite, well, at least in the top five. In this team, MODOK was my heavy hitter, with the Outwit I needed to get rid of aggravating defensive powers (like Super Senses), a flight stand that would allow him to range attack even when adjacent to an opponent (important under my House Rules, where only an adjacent Outwitter gets to negate a power on an opponent’s dial automatically; if you try to Outwit Super Senses with a ranged attack, well, even if you hit, the character with Super Senses has a chance to dodge the Outwit, which is both comic book accurate and annoyingly ironic), Psychic Blast to cut through resistant defenses, a big 4 Damage Value, an opening attack of 11, which would go up to 12 as long as he carried the Dreadnaught around with him and positioned it correctly, and some Energy Shield/Deflection to offer a little protection from the ranged hostility of an unsympathetic world. At 144 points, he soaked up a lot of our previously agreed on 400 point build total, and I added a Damage Shield card to him, to, which drove up the total (but would be worth it, as Damage Shield is the perfect antidote to HyperSonic Speedsters with Armor Piercing zipping around hammering you fifteen times a turn – with Damage Shield doing a click of damage back for every successful close combat attack, Nightcrawler would get awful sick awful quick of punching a live wire).

I then threw in a Vet AIM Agent and a Vet HYDRA Operative, mostly just to pump up ranged attack values for their betters.

I’d considered Arnim Zola, as I badly wanted some Probability Control, but he cost too much and gave me too little back. Similarly, the Jessica Drew LE was eventually ruled out; she’s a doughty scrapper, but her powers mostly work in close combat, and with an attack value of 9 she’d never lay a glove on Nightcrawler, and the HYDRA TA does nothing for close combat attack. In a 400 point build, I just couldn’t afford the luxuries.

Still, I thought I was pretty well prepared for any 400 point X-Men team I might encounter, built from figs circa the Clobberin’ Time expansion. Not that I looked forward to handling a mind controlling Professor X or an eyebeam blastin’ Cyclops, but I figured I could give Tony a good fight, at the very least, and with only a modicum of luck, at the very least, I could turn that annoying Nightcrawler fig into a twitchy blue smear fairly early on. And at the very least, I wouldn’t have to deal with Domino, a fig from Mutant Mayhem possessing Stealth, Probability Control, AND Super Senses, which Super Drama Teen invariably includes in all her X-Men forces. She’s REALLY aggravating (the fig, not the Teen).

Then Tony put his team on the board, and, well… in addition to Nightcrawler, I found I also had to deal with the Leonard Samson LE (who keeps Perplex for rather longer than his REV version does, and who is generally a first rate asskicker), Moondragon (a Mind Controlling, Psionic Blasting TK piece with a 10 Range, another of my favorite HeroClix figs, and one I find very dangerous), the Veteran Bullseye (10 Range, 11 Attack, 1 damage with RCE, potentially lethal against a mostly unarmored HYDRA force) and a frickin’ Paramedic… not that I could complain, given that I was running a Medic as well.

So instead of just having Nightcrawler to sweat, suddenly I was worried about the entire force.

What didn’t help me was that I was playing on a new and unfamiliar map, an indoor one with a great deal of Blocking, Hindering, and Water terrain. In the teams I normally build this wouldn’t bother me, because I usually go heavy on mobility powers (I just like them) and between Leap/Climb, Charge, Flight, and a generous distribution of Swing-Lines, my forces can usually get around pretty well. Not so this HYDRA force, pretty much all of them except M.O.D.O.K. had to work their tedious, slogging way around any kind of obstacle. Given that I wound up coming in from a side of the map where I could only enter the central section (where all the action was) by going through an enclosed garden with a big water hazard surrounded by decorative partitions, I started out pretty much mired down in a confining maze of hindering terrain… in fact, to get M.O.D.O.K. some much needed healing after Leonard Samson whacked him with a power generator, I had to have Baron Strucker literally throw the Scientist Supreme across the damn koi pond at him. (Another perk of running a team as ruthless as HYDRA, though, was that I didn't hesitate for a moment to implement the plan once I thought of it; if M.O.D.O.K. needed repairs in the middle of a pitched battle, Baron Strucker wouldn't have hesitated to do whatever was necessary to get the tech over there.)

So, poor mobility was one factor I hadn’t taken into consideration – something Tony didn’t have troubling him, with his HyperSonic Speed and Flight figs. I also got really bad dice rolls for most of the game – I think I had the Scientist Supreme try four turns total to get a 6 on 2D6 in order to heal M.O.D.O.K. before I finally got a decent result. Tony didn’t suffer the same luck; after I’d knocked Nightcrawler down twice, Tony had his Paramedic heal the aggravating mutie back up to his first slot both times. I finally got so sick of it I had Madame Hydra climb up on top of a shed and blow the goddam Paramedics’ brains out the back of her head from across the board. (My AIM Agent had knocked her down several clicks early in the game, but under my House Rules, Medics can use their Support ability to heal themselves, so she just gave herself a shot of morphine and was right back in the game.)

Baron Strucker came in handy early on; in the tight quarters already described, it was relatively easy for me to keep his various minions close enough to him to take advantage of his Inspiring Command Feat Card. Once I healed him up, M.O.D.O.K. came back nicely and managed to blast Doc Samson into a drooling braindead heap, helped out a little bit by judicious Incapacitation shots from his sidekick Dreadnaught. Later on, Baron Strucker managed to take out Bullseye and do some damage to Nightcrawler before he himself was knocked out.

M.O.D.O.K. also emerged triumphant in psionic battle with Moondragon – a fairly humiliating defeat for the so called Goddess of the Mind, but we all need a little humility sometimes.

In the end, I came out of the battle bloody and battered, but unbowed. That would not be the result of Sunday’s rematch, however.

For Sunday, I decided to just indulge myself a little. Instead of carefully weighing up the pros and cons of various different interestingly themed teams, I went for a quick fun group instead, and wound up putting out the LE Ultimates Natasha Romanov, the Veteran Hercules, the Veteran Archangel, the Veteran Iceman, and the Veteran Ghost Rider (Mutant Mayhem version). To those pathetic few out there in the know, that spells The Champions – Marvel’s failed 1970s “Superteam for the Common Man”, a guilty pleasure for the deranged few of us who have any idea what the hell I’m talking about.

I tossed in a Sgt. Tork pog from the most recent set, as he makes a credible Ivan (the Black Widow’s Russian chauffeur and sidekick), and I was set. With my homemade Champions TA (allowing any Champion who started a turn adjacent to a teammate to ignore the effects of other characters and hindering terrain on his or her movement), an Inspiring Command on Natasha, a Divebomb on the Angel, and an Unstoppable on Hercules, I was ready to rock.

Tony rolled out an X-Men force consisting of the new Cyclops, Storm and Colossus figs from the DANGER ROOM starter set, the Free Comic Book Day Wolverine, a Veteran Rogue from the original Infinity Challenge set, and of course, Nightcrawler, with the inevitable Armor Piercing on him. (I forget what all everyone else had on them, although I’m sure there were a few more Feat Cards out there... wait... Wolverine had Automatic Regeneration.)

I’d put out some 3-D objects, and then dealt each of us four object tokens, face down, so I had no idea what I was passing out, except Tony got one Collateral Damage token and so did I. As it turns out, Tony got a Teleport Pad. (I got a Fuel Tank, which didn't end up coming into the fight.)

Now, by WizKids rules, the Teleport Pad object token is pretty limited… in fact, I can’t see how they’re worth a goddam, actually. They’ll teleport you up to six spaces away, but they give you an action token when they do it. Since you get an action token any time you move, and you can’t have two action tokens in the same turn, this means a figure would have to move onto the pad on one turn and then teleport six spaces on a subsequent turn. This hardly seems worthwhile, when most figs can move six spaces anyway. I guess it could be useful to move past Blocking Terrain, but other than that, it seems pointless.

So I made a House Rule. You could use a Teleport Pad to move up to six spaces for no action token (although if you moved up to the object and passed through it, of course you’d get an action token for the movement). For an additional action token, you could use the teleport pad to teleport anywhere on the board. This would mean that if you were moving when you went through the pad, and you used it for the latter purpose, you’d end up pushing yourself and taking a click of damage… and I foolishly thought that would be enough of a limitation. Brother, did I need an education... and as Hank Pym had once done to Wonder Man in a long ago issue of Avengers, Tony proceeded to give me one.

Tony used that teleport pad to utterly dismantle my squad. He sent Colossus, Wolverine, and Cyclops through that thing, and between the three of them, they rendered the Angel, the Black Widow, and Iceman down into useless gruel in one turn. This left Ghost Rider and Hercules to carry a great deal of freight. They did their best; and helped out a little bit by Ivan doing some crack shooting, they managed to take out Cyclops, and put a major hurt on Rogue, Nightcrawler, and Storm before they went down… but honestly. That Teleport Pad was the death of me.

It couldn’t have been a Worthington Industries teleporter pad, though; if it had been, it would have had a 2/3s chance of sending anyone who used it to Antartica, or Mars, or something.

Maybe that’s the ticket. Instead of making the teleporter cost an action token, I should set up a little table for it, as follows:

Roll d6 for Teleporter result

1 teleport pad blows up, user takes 3 clicks of damage
2 User travels to square of choice, may continue to move
3 opponent places user in square of choice, user's turn ends
4 user teleports to random square on map
5 teleporter turns user inside out, automatic KO
6 teleporter undoes all damage done to user, heal to your first slot

Anyway, the second game was just sad… for me, not for Tony. There were some fun moments, such as when Ghost Rider rode his flaming motorcycle up some stairs to the top of the building where Nightcrawler was hiding, with Hercules riding pillion, and blew Nightcrawler off the roof into the parking lot… and Ivan shooting a shocked Scott Summers in the head was a giggle… but for the most part, that teleporter pad was my complete undoing.

Gotta fix those rules.

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