Felix Hughes, affectionately known as the “Mad Scientist of UK Heroclix”, is the reigning UK National Champion and for some time has been posting in-depth strategy and team building articles on Facebook. He wrote an article earlier this week about building teams for larger games, this time he focuses on the Clix For Cancer format.
So I’ve been writing a few articles about team building but this time I’m going to be writing one about a very specific event – Clix For Cancer (part of Gaming Vs Cancer). For those that don’t know this is a charity gaming event, raising money to support Cancer Research. It started out as a purely Heroclix event and that has remained a big part of the event and that’s what I’m going to talk about (in case you thought I was suddenly going to claim any expertise at Magic!).
So why talk about this event? Well for one thing it’s a good cause and it’s been a lot of fun over the past few years. But the most important is that there are some special rules in effect for the games. These are there to encourage a more relaxed and casual environment to play in; the objective of course being to raise money for charity rather than to win necessarily (though winning is nice). But some of these rules affect how your teams are built and others (the really interesting ones) can potentially have a really big impact on the game, and that in turn can lead to some opportunities in team building. So what are these rules?
It’s a Big Game:
This is the main difference between the Clix For Cancer event and most Heroclix tournaments. You have 600 points available to spend but still only 45 minutes in which to play your games. I’ve written a whole article about how to approach building a team for a big game so I suggest you read that but in short the time limit should be of prime concern when it comes to building your team, at least if you want to do well. That means building a team with mobile, hard-hitting attackers that can score KOs quickly. Taking a complex team that aims to grind down the opposing team over a war of attrition might be satisfying to play but is likely to run into problems with time if your opponent refuses to fall for your schemes. Much better in this scenario to take the initiative and be the aggressor.
It’s Modern Age with some tweaks (No Team Bases, Resources or ID Cards):
Modern Age is something that should be at least familiar to players looking to attend a big Heroclix Event. And actually makes things a little bit easier. If you are willing to do a bit of searching you can find plenty of information on Modern Age teams that you can use as a bit of inspiration if you choose. Powerful Heroclix figures are generally going to be the same no matter how many points you are playing with, for instance I’d be quite surprised if a certain Nick Fury didn’t make a few appearances at the event. Really the only impact is that as a larger game there are more figures that can be effective but the tweaks have a really big impact on some of the teams that you might see doing well in a Modern Age event. So lets’s take a look at those:
Banning Team Bases entirely is actually the least important of these changes. There are after all only two currently legal in Modern Age (The Trinity of Sin and Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends), both of these are much more effective in a larger game as they can be used at full power which is important both for the Team Base itself and especially so for any Solo Adventures. So while they are both more balanced than some of the older Team Bases it’s safer to leave them out.
The other two bans have a much higher impact and can be connected. But firstly I’m going to talk a little bit about those Resources that don’t make use of ID cards and why this is important. So here I’m really talking about Pandora’s Box, The Rock of Eternity and The Supreme Intelligence.
These resources are interesting in that none of them really let you build around them, or at least not in a reliable way. Instead they serve best to supplement other figures and provide that extra little element that might be missing from their dial. Being able to add Sidestep and Willpower to Iceman, Healing to Proteus or Energy Shield/Deflection and Combat Reflexes to Solaris all make those figures that much more powerful. You can of course still use those figures without the appropriate resource but they won’t have the same impact on the game. Probably the biggest loss here is the ability to provide Willpower to characters that might otherwise lack it, followed by even limited Move and Attack with Sidestep but all of these resources have applications that we will have to do without.
Then we have the loss of ID cards. While going without a resource makes certain strategies less effective the removal of ID cards invalidates some strategies altogether. The Quinjet would already have missed the Resource dial but now Ultron Drones become much less dangerous without the ability to call in heavy hitters as do teams based around TW Lex Luthor. Now these have been replaced in some way for the GvsC ID cards but the fact remains that you no longer have to worry quite as much about some unexpected surprises, like Nick Fury popping out of nowhere or a King Thor blasting you with a Pulse Wave. This will actually have quite a big impact. The extra actions available in a large game make ID cards much more effective than they would have been in a smaller game and teams will have fewer options to fill in their leftover points which might in turn cause a few changes in character selection.
You get GvsC ID cards!
Now this is the biggest change – a special rule that applies to the event allowing you to use raffle tickets (This is for charity after all!) to add some extra powers to key characters on your team during the game in a similar way to the Inspiration effect of a normal ID card. The key differences is that you don’t get any new characters on your team for a turn and those powers only get given to one character. You also get a selection of them. Depending on your chosen affiliation at the start of the game you can gain access to a variety of these GvsC IDs. I’m going to talk about each of the different options below and some of the cool things it can let you do but before that there are some key points to remember.
Firstly, whatever affiliation you choose you will have access to the three key support powers of Probability Control, Perplex and Outwit. When it comes to judging how useful they are to your team that’s pretty much the order I would rank them. Most teams should have access to Probability Control anyway but adding a second chance to land a key attack is well worth the use of a Raffle ticket. Perplex as always lets you tweak your combat values to land surprise attacks from an extra square away, deal extra damage or just really focus on that key attack. The key thing to remember is that the power you gain only lasts for one round and then there is the issue of that 7th ID card.
All the teams also have access to a GvsC ID that stops the chosen character from interacting with another character who has been assigned an ID. That means if you decide to add Outwit to one of your characters then your opponent can protect one of their own before you get a chance to use it. The same applies to any of these abilities in fact. So how should you play around this? Well the first point will be to try to avoid giving Probability Control to your main attacker for instance especially if your opponent has one obvious target. Instead use one of your other characters for that role. The same obviously applies to Perplex and when it comes to Outwit you are more likely to be using this to knock out opposing Probability Control than a Defence Power as your opponent can just protect that character you really want to hit. The best situation will be if your opponent has two good targets – they can only protect one of them after all!
And the final point: None of these powers are ignored by Pulse Wave. This means that unlike in most games, depending on the situation, you might be able to protect yourself from a devastating opening attack with a well-timed ID Card. But now let’s look at each set of IDs and see what tricks they might have to offer:
Captain America – Leadership, Empower
Thor – Energy Explosion, Quake
Iron Man – Force Blast, Perplex
Hulk – Battle Fury, Colossal Stamina
Hank Pym – Tiny Size or Giant Size, Outwit
Doctor Strange – Probabilty Control, Defend
She Hulk – GvsCID Immunity (Can’t target or be targeted by a Character assigned a GvsCID)
The Marvel Heroes (actually we can just call them the Avengers really) are really focused on Close Combat. Thor gives you a bit of energy explosion (great when combined with Penetrating/Psychic Blast for instance) and Iron Man Force Blast (goes well with Pulse Wave) but most of the rest of their abilities are focused on working together up close. There’s a great defensive option with Doctor Strange, especially when combined with powers like Combat Reflexes, and adding an Empower from Captain America just where you need it can be great. Hank Pym is very flexible, letting you carry early on and then extending that close combat reach when you need it or just improving your Lines of Fire for Outwit. Don’t forget you could use this on a Giant or Colossal figure to actually hide behind something and definitely don’t ignore Hulk. Battle Fury is a great counter to Shape Change when you need it but the real advantage is in being able to let your otherwise pushed characters keep taking actions, whether that’s another attack or a retreat to a medic.
Overall I’d be looking to use this affiliation if I was playing a primarily close combat focused team that was looking to close in and duke it out. Plenty of Avengers teams fall into this category but something like a Spider-Man Family team could make good use of tricks as could an X-Men team that already wants to stick relatively close together to use their team ability and so will be in a better position to take advantage of some of the tricks.
Kang – Probability Control, Phasing/Teleport
Doctor Doom – Outwit, Toughness
Loki – Perplex, Mind Control
Ultron – Willpower, Regeneration
Red Skull – Leadership, Enhancement
Thanos- Power Cosmic
Deadpool – GvsCID Immunity (Can’t target or be targeted by a Character assigned a GvsCID)
While the Marvel Heroes give you options for working as a team the Villains are much more focused on themselves (with a notable exception of the Red Skull providing a nice little ranged boost). Probably the biggest thing to note is that the Marvel Villains gives you access to Willpower, both directly from Ultron but also from Thanos and his Power Cosmic. This makes this a great option to use some of those expensive villains from AVAS like the Red Skull or The Hood that would normally take pushing damage. And because you only need it every few turns it’s not even going to cost you that many tickets! Adding outwit Protection or Regeneration on demand are also great ways to keep a key expensive character in the game. Otherwise you have a couple of handy tricks like Phasing/Teleport to escape to safety or Mind Control for some shenanigans along with the support powers.
As already noted I’d be looking at expensive characters that normally have to do without Willpower so that I can help them out. The Hood is one but UXM Iceman or SMWW Titano are a couple of other examples (and Titano would love that regeneration on demand). Don’t ignore the possibility of a strong ranged team and just using the Red Skull to add a key enhancement when needed.
Superman – Super-Strength, Invincible
Batman – Stealth, Outwit
Wonder Woman – Support, Defend
Flash – Transporter, Probability Control
Martian Manhunter – Shape Change, Mind Control
Green Lantern – Barrier, Perplex
Ambush Bug – GvsCID Immunity (Can’t target or be targeted by a Character assigned a GvsCID)
The DC Heroes (It’s the Justice League!) give you some really powerful options. If I had to pick the most powerful affiliation in terms of raw power this is it, with the Trinity especially coming out well. Superman can add big damage to close combat characters like Artemis or Speed Demon while Invincible (That also works against Pulse Wave) is a great defensive option. Stealth and Outwit from Batman is a classic combination giving a nice mix of offence and defence and the same is true of Wonder Woman with her Support and Defend, letting you potentially heal up a key character or helping to protect weaker teammates. Flash offers some limited Move and Attack combined with Probability Control which can really help the slower characters out there while Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter are a bit more specialised but don’t ignore the potential of surprise Mind Control.
Overall, like the Justice League, this a quite a powerful set of stand alone combinations. You can certainly build a team around the idea of using one or two of them but there is slightly less synergy perhaps than the others. I think that I’d be picking the DC Heroes if I didn’t have any other plan and just wanted strong abilities – which is never a bad way to play Heroclix!
Lex Luthor – Mastermind, Outwit
Joker – Perplex, Poison
Darkseid – Improved Targeting – Hindering, Elevated, Characters, Phasing/Teleport
Captain Cold – Barrier, Incapacitate
Circe – Probability Control, Mind Control
Deathstroke – Toughness, Blades/Claws/Fangs
Batmite – GvsCID Immunity (Can’t target or be targeted by a Character assigned a GvsCID)
The DC Villains on the other hand require a little bit more finesse than the heroes, as is often the case. After all how else is Lex Luthor supposed to deal with Superman? Well in this case by having a bunch of expendable allies to sacrifice to protect himself. Mastermind is a pretty incredible defensive option. Especially when you can use it to laugh off Pulse Waves (though beware Precision Strike) and if any of those minions manage to survive Deathstroke can teach them how to use a Blade or Captain Cold freezes them in place with Incapacitate. You also have access to a couple of other dirty tricks with Joker’s Poison (don’t forget: this doesn’t target so your opponent won’t be able to use a GvsCID card to shield themselves) and Darkseid letting you ignore most terrain for shooting. While the Justice League rely on brute force the DC villains need to apply a little more thought.
For me the biggest draw here is Lex with his Mastermind, combined with a few handy powers that let even cheap characters threaten larger ones. So I’d be looking at building a team around some number of more expensive characters combined with a bunch of cheaper minions to both absorb damage and take a wild swing or two.
So which one am I using?
Well before I can answer that I need to tell you a little bit about the team I’m using: I’m going to follow some of my own advice and take advantage of the points to make a team of characters that would normally be too expensive to use together but that work really well.
WF Supergirl (200)
SMWW Steppenwolf (135)
SMWW Brutaal (100)
SMWW Parademon x 2 (90)
TW GF Parademon (45)
SMWW Brimstone (20)
Kryptonian ATA (2)
???? (Whatever is left)
So an Apokalips Theme Team to take advantage of Steppenwolf and Supergirl with their action clearing and using Brutaal to hopefully pick up a nice little Attack boost. The Parademons can carry most of the team forwards on the first turn and then start attacking from turn two and just keep going…. or at least this is the plan right now. I might still adjust this team a little, I keep trying to work out the correct number of Parademons and Brimstones and whether or not I want to replace some of the Parademons with the Bystander version for more cannon fodder. Of course with a team like this I would have to choose the DC Villains affiliation, this is after all an event for charity and while it would be nice to do well I’d much rather have a bit of fun.
But that’s assuming I don’t do my usual trick and just change my team at the last minute! For instance I very much enjoyed playing with the following 500 point team:
WF Toymaster (30)
CW Night Nurse (20)
SMWW Brimstone (150)
SMWW Solaris (150)
SMWW Superman/Batman Robot (150)
This is another team that is only really possible in a big game but I loved playing with it and with an extra 100 points I could add something else cool (Warwheel perhaps?). With a team like this you pretty much just run towards your opponent and then see what happens but you’ve got long dials with Stop clicks and some cool attack options. (In the actual games of course the stars were Brimstone and Solaris. The Superman/Batman Robot just kind of chilled out and taxied people around for most of the game so he might get replaced with another Solaris for instance). In this case I’d go for the Marvel Villains. Regeneration combined with Stop Clicks sounds like fun to me!
But the overall point is this: Whatever team I play it’s going to be one that I expect to enjoy playing. Either because it has characters I like or figures I like and ideally both. The same will go for my GvsC ID card affiliation choice. There’s a Wizkids Regional the day before for the cut-throat games if that’s what you enjoy (and I shall be there for sure) but for Sunday it’s all about the fun and the good cause. See you there.