Previously the Avengers and the X-Men squared off on the beach of Utopia, the mutant homeland. The X-Men won the day, but Hope Summers ran away from both teams rather than have either one choose her destiny. Both teams were able to track her signal to five different locations, so this time the tournament has the Avengers and X-Men split themselves into five small teams each, fighting in each location as they search for Hope.
Five teams have to be built for slightly shorter battles. There are some limitations; Beast and Wolverine aren’t allowed on the X-Men’s side as they are filthy splitters. Hope isn’t allowed on either side as she’s on the run. The five teams have to share a team keyword, such as X-Factor or New Mutants. Each team was to belong to a different group and each character couldn’t be duplicated as everyone’s around the world searching at the same time.
The X-Men team would be the easiest to make as most mutants have been an X-Man at some point. Then there’s the recently-released Wolverine & The X-Men set which brought a lot of X-Force and New Mutants characters. A few people share the X-Factor keyword, so the remaining team was a difficult choice. Sadly there aren’t many Generation X characters, so I picked Excalibur, as I could just about make the team.
My teams were as follows:
Excalibur: Longshot to provide probability control and thrown knives. Shadowcat to ferry people around and support them. Warlock to turn into a dune buggy, ram people and be an all-round weird Swiss Army Knife of a character.
New Mutants: Magik from the Phoenix Five who appear later in the series, as a flying death beast. Magma who is like a borderline-psychotic lava Firestar. Shatterstar who is basically a man with crazy massive swords and that’s a good substitute for character.
X-Factor: This was possibly the hardest team to build. 300 points was a ton back in the day, but two massive overhauls later and 300 points is barely anything. I had Layla Miller to resurrect people and use the near-essential Outwit & Probability Control powers. I wanted to use Polaris as her Telekinesis power allowed fast placement of people around the map. Originally I wanted to use Strong Guy as a tank to move into place, but that was heavily veto’d by the X-Men’s captain so I picked three Multiple Men as their replacement. One is the original, the others his ‘dupes’.
X-Force: I wanted to use my limited edition Cable from the last game as he hunts Avengers and damn it, he was my prize. He could phase through things and do two attacks in one go. Spiral is a whirling dervish of blades who can teleport. Then I needed enough points to fill the rest and I decided Wolfsbane would make for something sharp to throw at the enemy, especially if I could make her carry a Phoenix Shard.
X-Men: Cyclops was a must, as the Avengers Vs X-Men version is one of the best I’ve seen. Emma Frost is a great support piece, and with 75 points left after that, I took Professor X. This makes a team filled with Mind Control, Probability Control, Leadership and not a great deal of mobility.
Next, on to the tournament!
Fifteen people arrived for this session, still in the hall in Littlehampton; six Avengers, nine X-Men. This made things a bit difficult. One person would sit out for a round (initially a late player) and then two X-Men would fight in a training exercise which wouldn’t count as part of the points for the round.
I was thinking about using my weaker team, X-Factor with all the Multiple Men. At the last minute I panicked and switched to X-Force. Cable, Spiral & Wolfsbane.
My enemy was my flatmate Lee, making his Heroclix tournament debut after a while of playing the game in the flat with a few friends. He brought along the Avengers Movie version of Thor, and the horse-faced Thor wannabe, Beta-Ray Bill.
It was odd facing off against my flatmate, but frankly we’re about evenly as non-tactical as each other and as this was his first fight it was probably a good warm-up.
Thor should have easily knocked Wolfsbane into a paste, he was even immune to the poison the Phoenix Shard gave her. When her health was on the rocks she was able to regenerate, using up her action but keeping Chris Hemsworth in place long enough for Spiral and Cable to surround her. The ensuing cutting and shooting left only a fine paste and a hammer. A total victory for me, and a great start. Lee had some terrible luck with his dice rolls, and spent too much time with Thor locked against my weakest character.
For this battle we had two maps which could have represented Dr Doom’s hometown. My fight would be on an outside map with a hut in the middle and some elevated terrain making it difficult for non-fliers. I decided for the mobility of the Excalibur team.
My enemy was Elliott, bringing his ‘comedy team’ of Great Lakes Avengers. These guys are losers in the Marvel Universe, with only Squirrel Girl as their breakout hit. The team he had built were: Big Bertha, Flatman, Mr Immortal and… Deadpool?
Things went wrong pretty early. I sent Warlock ahead to grab a Phoenix Shard on top of a building and he failed. Kitty Pryde carried Longshot into an alleyway and then hid in a bin. The GLA were tentative at first, and I drew my forces together in the alleyway. Mr Immortal tied up Warlock, making his ability to turn into a dune buggy and ram people fairly useless. He did have the ability to pick whatever attack power he wanted, however, so some poison helped put Mr Immortal down… kind of. When Mr Immortal dies, he starts to regenerate off the table, eventually coming back to life in the same place. That’s really irritating. Flatman outwitted Longshot’s luck powers while Big Bertha slammed into him. Shadowcat pinned Deadpool and attacked him a couple of times. This Deadpool had a trait which made him roll a d6 when he was attacked and on a six he actually healed damage instead of taking it. He made the six on both attacks and took nothing. Deadpool killed her pretty quickly after that.
|Never go down a dark alleyway in Dr Doom's home town.|
Warlock managed to kill Flatman and when Mr Immortal came back to life he ran away so that I couldn’t score the easy points he would give me. Big Bertha jumped down from the nearby building and pummeled Warlock into the ground. An almost-complete loss.
An indoor map this time, Wundagore looking suspiciously like Asgard. I was assured they just bought their decor in the same place. I decided that my fairly slow-moving X-Factor team might work here.
My enemy was Elliott again, thanks to random draws. If last time was a comedy team, this one was deadly serious. Asgardians, again. Kid Loki, Thor and a character we X-Men had received warnings about via email… emails I didn’t bother to read… The Absorbing Man. Oh, I should have read those warnings.
Layla Miller took the Phoenix Cyclops Shard and hid behind a wall. The original Multiple Man failed to collect the Phoenix Namor Shard and was pretty much exposed. Absorbing Man grabbed a heavy object and well, absorbed it, adding to his attack and damage stats. The little Multiple Men ran into action and Polaris threw the original at Absorbing Man, as I had no idea quite how bad he was and wanted to see his power in action. Absorbing Man hit Multiple Man so hard he flew backwards and spawned five more duplicates instantly. His power in the comics is that kinetic energy makes him duplicate, so the game does the same kind of thing. Elliott and I sourced some more Multiple Man figures from the rest of the tournament-goers. My friends Alex and Jacob provided three before the game. Fellow X-Man Ed lent me three more.
|All of the Madri!|
After all that, the original Multiple Man was near death and absorbed his duplicates back into his body to heal himself back up, swapping place with another Multiple Man further away. Polaris was the surprise big-damage-dealer out of the group, attacking Thor and damaging herself. Take two and she teamed up with a Multiple Man duplicate to knock the God of Thunder down. Absorbing Man took a ride on Kid Loki’s weird monster thing and finished off Polaris alarmingly quickly, followed by Layla. With two remaining Multiple Men facing off against Kid Loki and the Absorbing Man, I had very little left to do. Absorbing Man was really easy to hit, but each time you hit, his player would roll a dice and ONLY if the result matched the damage dealt would it go through. This meant a one in six chance of Absorbing Man taking damage each time he was hit. Elliott tried goading me into popping another five Multiple Men to try and flurry Absorbing Man to death, but each one he would kill would be 25 more points for the enemy. Instead I had the remaining duplicate run all the way around to the original and get absorbed to deny him the maximum points he could have scored. Then with his last breath, the one true Multiple Man knocked out Kid Loki. My best victory; beating up a child.
With two teams left I decided to break out the New Mutants. The map was actually Krakoa… The Island That Walks Like a Man! We were using it as the Savage Land though. Lots of hedges and a hill which I labelled Jerk Mountain, immediately claimed by the Avengers just to prove that they were the kings of Jerk Mountain.
My enemy was Ash, who has only ever played in the last tournament and this one. I had a great game against him last time which was a proper brawl. He was borrowing a team for this round. An Asgardian team. After five minutes of ranting bitterly about Absorbing Man in the kitchen area and getting another coffee, I saw the team I was going to face… Absorbing Man, Kid Loki, Thor. It was Elliott’s team. God damn.
When we laid objects down I put both of my Phoenix Shards near Jerk Mountain and sent Shatterstar after one. I left Magik and Magma behind in the hope of using Magik’s Running Shot power to run and gun against someone. The other Avengers stormed Jerk Mountain, sensing it as their natural home, and I sent Magik away from the mountain but near enough to shoot Thor as she went. The blast was good, but I rashly moved Magma away from her before realising that her powers lessen penetrating damage done to her and allies. Thor retorted with penetrating damage all on Magik because even Ash noticed that power. Absorbing Man started next to a heavy object again. He absorbed it… again. He took a ride on Kid Loki’s monster steed… again. Shatterstar missed his Phoenix Shard pickup and spent the rest of the game slashing wildly at Absorbing Man, rarely missing but the dice roll to see if damage went through never worked. Magma was carted into the fracas by Magik, surviving just long enough to poison Kid Loki and fail to poison Absorbing Man as that was a dealing of damage which was diced against and missed. Gah! Absorbing Man easily KO’d Magma in one hit and in a panic I knocked Thor out with Magik. Shatterstar’s constant attempts at damaging Absorbing Man had caused maybe about eight or ten successful hits to miss, and he was weakened enough from all the effort that he was downed in a single hit. Magik tried to fly away from Absorbing Man but after one actual successful hit, managed to knock him back into a wall (which didn’t damage him) and he punched her one last time, taking a damage which he couldn’t avoid and KO’ing my last figure. With one health left, the relentless ‘no’ machine of the Absorbing Man had been the one cause of my demise again. I was fuming. I ranted in the kitchen about biting off the head of the miniature if I fought it again. It’s great that this was Ash’s first victory in a tournament, but I still hate that stupid Absorbing Man and his stupid face.
GAME FIVE - A SPACESHIP CRASH SITE
The X-Men had been victorious, despite my hideous track record of one victory to three losses. I had my X-Men team left and being in the lower tier of combatants, I wasn’t in space but instead the wreckage of a crashed spaceship.
My enemy was Lee again, who hadn’t won any more battles since we last fought. He’d lost in the second battle by being the only person to lose a piece in what sounded like a quite drawn out fight. This time, to match my vanilla X-Men team he was using a vanilla Avengers team; Luke Cage, Scarlet Witch and Wolverine. To allow a second Avengers team, he’d fitted them with an Alternate Team Ability, a card which costs points for each character which gives them a new power. They couldn’t be targeted with Outwit, which cancels out powers, unless you’d targeted them with an attack first. All of my characters had Outwit at some point in their dial… this was going to be rough.
I started by having Cyclops and Emma Frost running to cover so that they could pick up Phoenix Shards. They both failed, but I knew with Cyclops here he could shoot through the wall at the enemy if he had to. Professor X kept close so that he could grant the attack-avoiding Shape Change power to the others. The Avengers came close, but not enough. I had Emma and Cyclops move up, shooting and missing Scarlet Witch. Professor X grabbed a Cyclops Phoenix Shard so he could fly and be better at ranged combat. Oh yes, just like in the two-issue X-Men/Starjammers comic… BALD PHOENIX!
Cyclops was okay, but he only managed to damage Luke Cage once, which was boosted by having Emma Frost and her Enhancement power to hand. Emma was great though, mind controlling Wolverine into gutting Scarlet Witch. See, it was okay, he was just working with his old team again. Stupid Wolverine.
The fracas got closer, with Professor X stupidly exposed as I’d used him to tie down Scarlet Witch before she died. Wolverine tried to hack him apart and missed. Professor X didn’t take this lying down, mind controlling Wolverine into slashing Luke Cage’s impenetrable skin. Unfortunately the feral killing machine broke from the mental control, killed Cyclops, then Emma Frost. Professor X tried to boost his own damage and fight Wolverine but that was never going to be a good idea. He had enough defence powers which allowed rerolls and rolls to miss, but it wasn’t going to help in the long run.
Time was called, leaving Wolverine and Professor X on the table, I’d lost thanks to the amount of points killed on my side. Long story short for this one; Wolverine killed EVERYTHING.
The X-Men won the day. That’s the good news. It was pretty decisive, which is good because I was nothing but a hindrance.
Out of fifteen people, I came twelfth. That was about right. The first game went amazingly for me and the last was so close if not for Wolverine winning it back so heavily.
I’d show you the prizes, but sadly they were delayed, so we don’t have them this month and they will be given out to us in time for the next match. For entering the contest, the Avengers were all given a Black Panther miniature and the X-Men were given a Danger (the sentient Danger Room who is just a little bit evil). As the winners, the highest-scoring X-Men were given a choice between Black Panther and Lei-Kung The Thunderer. Personally, as the lowest-scoring X-Man, I will be happy with my Black Panther as I can make an Illuminati team with him.
Everyone will also get a Colossus Phoenix Shard which will be useful really soon…
The next match will be a battle on the moon in about a month. Six hundred points in one team who have to be used for each battle. This means the team selection will be very important, and we’ll start using the Phoenix Shards we’ve been winning since the first tournament. The X-Men are half-way there, but a couple of victories for the Avengers could change it all.