In an effort to talk a little more about competitive play, and leading to ROCtober and the next Wizkids Open in November, I want to talk about the current state of the Meta Game and what you can expect to see at these events.
Let’s roll the clock back a year and take a look at what the Meta was at ROCtober 2015. We see entities and power batteries galore. Pieces like Nighthawk Prime, Banshee, Kyle Raynor, Despotellis, and of course Nick Fury ruled the event. A year ago, a search on eBay for entities like Parallax, Ophidian, Ion (really any of them) ran anywhere around $150 a pop. Complete batteries ran from $50 onward. If you wanted to compete in a ROC tournament, you had to drop some serious change in order to even have a shot. Aside from the occasional oddities, these figures and possessors ruled the Meta, and it was tough to deal with them. Granted, I had just gotten back into the game around this time, but I was gearing up to start playing at my local LGS, so it was a wonderful learning experience to watch some of the matches and read up on these monstrous pieces.
In June, Batteries, Entities, and a bunch of sets rotated out of modern, leaving pro players to look to newer resources (with arguably less power) to build their teams from. From the ashes, the Quinjet became the rightful terror it has been. Resources once thought decent to bad like Pandora’s Box and the Avengers Round Table started to show presence. Back at World’s, Quinjets were all over the place, and Proteus had a strong showing, along with pieces like SR Iceman, and rightfully so. ID cards have become the new face of competitive play, and virtually every single team has at least one on the sideline.
Looking at today’s Meta, it seems like every two weeks, we have a completely new team that’s winning events. What that tells us is that the game is in a relatively healthy state for players to break into the competitive scene. For most of the summer, Quinjets were the way to go, and virtually every top 8 had a Quinjet at the number one spot. However, last month, we started to see Mxyzptlk/Frogman teams on the rise, and they kept the number one spot for a few events in different cities. As of late, Devil Dinosaur seems to be a strong contender. Krang is still around and still incredibly strong, but the build has evolved a little bit with the help of the Morph Hank Pym’s and his ant tokens.
Let’s take a look at some of the teams that have recently won events or placed well and how we can either counteract these teams or figure out why they’re so good. Granted, we’re going to take a rather quick approach to these teams.
- Quinjet, full points, + Resource dial at 5 points
- Ultron Drone X2 (typically Ultron-18.2 & Ultron-6)
- The Atom Colossal (Retaliator dial)
- FF Atomica
- FF H.E.N.R.Y.
- 8 ID cards
One of the most fearsome pieces in today’s game is the Quinjet. With its unique interactions with ID cards, and the ability to reduce penetrating damage, this thing lives for a long time, and has proven difficult to take down. The amount of damage you get to dish out with ID call-ins is insane, and the amount of points people can capitalize on are slim when most everything on your team is 30 points or under. Recently, an Avengers variant has been seen in some ROC’s and it’s doing pretty great things.
How do you deal with this? Luckily, most Quinjet teams are Ultron builds, so they play a crucial role in what the team can do. A common from Avengers Assemble is pretty much engineered to handle these guys in the form of Living Lightning. This guy is an absolute monster to Ultron Drones as his damage is penetrating and all damage assigned to robots is increased by 2, and he has traited Energy Explosion with triple bolts. Living Lightning shows us that the key to breaking a Quinjet team is to kill its ability to effectively call in whatever it wants. Once the drones are down, the player is forced to either use the Quinjet for call-ins (still completely viable) or use it on offense. Either way, this is probably your best option for dealing with this team.
- Juston Seyfert
- Baxter Stockman
- Ultron-6 Drone
- Pandora’s Box with Sloth and Wrath Relics
- 2 ID Cards
This has been the staple Krang build for some time, however, there has recently been a change to the line-up. We’re now seeing people play the Morphing Ant-Man rather than the Ultron drone and Pandora’s Box. The reason people are playing Krang is because he’s probably the best tentpole piece in the game right now. With his ability to get +2 to all his combat values as well as any attack power makes him insanely tough to deal with. The robot keyword took him from great to perfect as Juston Seyfert synergizes with him so incredibly well. It’s almost always a bad day when you see the mighty Turtles villain across the board.
How do you deal with this? Krang is a tough nut to crack because he’s so inherently hard to hit while being so overwhelmingly aggressive. As with many great teams, taking out his support is usually the best answer. A quick alpha strike on Juston will force Krang to give up so much of his movement and attack potential, cancelling out the free attack he gets. KO’ing Baxter ensures the player has a tough decision on whether to buff him or not and take damage that he most likely won’t get back. This is a bit harder to do with the Ant-Man build because the Krang player can clog doorways and force you into his area to fight. However, one huge tool against Krang is Nighthawk Prime. Completely shutting off combat value increases is big and he’s done a wonderful job of denying Krang’s status of unchecked aggression. If you’re really afraid of Krang, perhaps Primehawk is your guy. A special note though; we’ve seen Krang in almost every top 8, but he hasn’t won in a while. He’s consistently losing to the other teams on this list.
- Mr. Mxyzptlk (Mix-yiz-spit-lick)
- FF Jean Grey
- Ultron Drone X2
- FF Atomica
- The Atom Colossal X2 (Retaliator Dial)
- Avengers Round Table with 5 ID cards
I covered this team in my first Meta Talk article and it’s seen quite the wins in the past month. Mxyzptlk is an awesome piece to keep enemy teams locked down, and the damage output from the call-ins is really big. Inspiration choice is key here, but it’s pretty tough to beat your opponent when you can’t take any actions for every 2 out of 3 turns (or more if he goes Colossal and uses stamina), while taking pushing damage regardless of Willpower (thanks to Pulse Wave).
How do you deal with this? Having never played this team, my advice would be to either Nuke Mxyzptlk with Precision Strike, or go for guerrilla warfare with the back-line. Mxyzptlk’s lock down thrives on teams that group together. A pushed Quicksilver with TK might be a great option because of his ample range to get the job done. Eclipso grants Precision Strike, so you can add that for just 25 points. Whatever you do, do NOT group your force against him. Ultron drones are going to be the real source of his damage, so KO’ing them is usually a great bet. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to deal with his D6 swapping, but if he rolls high enough, that can work in your favor. Eclipso is probably the best universal tool you can bring to deal with him. Of course, Nick Fury is always a great option to simply turn off his Pulse Wave power.
- Koriand’r LE X2 + Red Hood and the Outlaws ATA
- Brainiac Possession
- Proteus Possession
- Pandora’s Box with Solth, Wrath, Lust, and Greed Relics
This team is a bit of a blast from the past as it’s the only near-identical build as some of the 2015 teams. Koriand’r is still showing a lot of potential as the amazing Red Hood and the Outlaws ATA is one of the best in the game. With her insane mobility and inherent Move and Attack, she’s a big threat. Outsiders team ability ensures that pieces like Krang don’t get their buffs and negates the effects of other sin relics out there. With the ATA in place, the team becomes untargetable from ranged, sans Pulse Wave.
How do you deal with this? Like Krang, Koriand’r is tough to deal with. Ranged is right out the door as it won’t help you here (unless you have a really great ranged piece). Hypersonic might be a great way to handle her as you can match her speed values and we can already see that Plasticity isn’t high on the list for most of these teams. It might be more beneficial to burn down one Koriand’r and start concentrating fire on the other since the only healing on the team is through Sloth. As long as you can get her to click 6, she starts to limp in power (she’s still very good, just not top click good and this runs passed her Running Shot + Pulse Wave clicks). Mary Marvel would be one of my top choices against her. You have high defense, can hit for a LOT of damage, you have Prob when they don’t (sans theme team prob), and you have a one-time heal to full click.
- Devil Dinosaur
- Ant-Man at 50 Points (AOU 003)
- Ultron Drone X2 (Typically Ultron 18.2 & Ultron-6)
- Brimstone Colossal X2 (Retaliator Dial)
- The Atom Colossal (Retailiator Dial)
- Avengers Round Table with 6 ID cards
Devil has seen some big play the last month with several wins and other top 8 placements in the same events! His token generation is huge and when combined with the ants, the field becomes incredibly difficult for your opponents to navigate while he throws ID characters out to either buff the tokens, or straight up KO your pieces. With three retaliators, it’s going to be quite painful when you have no choice but to take down one of his bystanders. Kennie Pena took the idea of running Devil and completely pushed him to the point of insanity.
How do you deal with this? Pieces that are good at doing lots of small damage are going to be great against Devil and his bystander army. Likewise, characters that ignore other characters for movement will be at a huge advantage. Of course, you still have to deal with Devil’s three stop clicks, but Fury can take of that. Once he’s off those token generator clicks, he becomes a little more easy to deal with. ID characters are wonderful for dealing with the bystander armies because the odds of one retaliator KO’ing a full-strength piece are pretty low. Riptide is a prime choice for taking out tokens as he can just pulse wave them all to death, and is a relatively low trade in points. Plus, he does it without consuming an action token, letting your force get through to KO Devil, or at least knock him off out of his token generation. Vermin would be great too, although I probably wouldn’t ever play him in a competitive game.
What’s the take-away from all this?
Based on the teams listed, there’s one HUGE common denominator in all these teams; Ultron Drones. Based on that, I really believe if you can fit the 80 points on your team build, it’s worth it to run Living Lightning. While that may be tough, the sheer destruction he can cause to Ultron drones (and retaliators) is huge and very much worth it. Nighthawk prime seems to be a great answer as well since his nerfs to enemy teams is so powerful. I decided to throw together a quick and dirty team build that takes some of these counter-plays into consideration. Let’s take a look:
300 Point ROC-Level Counter Team
- WF Superman 002 (Possessed by SMWW Eclipso 055)
- AVAS Living Lightning 015
- NFAoS Nighthawk Prime 059b
- SMWW The Atom 001P (Retaliator Dial)
- Pandora’s Box with Sloth, Envy, and Lust Relics
This might not be the best team out there, but let’s break down the choices I made here. Hypersonic seems to be a great tool against a lot of these teams, and Superman is one of the best options out there. Eclipso grants him hard defense or Precision Strike against Mxyzptlk teams, while his shifting focus will allow him to turtle himself up against retaliation the next turn. Again, Living Lightning will make short work of drones, and Nighthawk Prime will shut off Krang and Koriand’r bonuses. The Atom is simply the best 15 points in the game right now, so we can’t leave him out. When you need more damage, swap out Superman for the Uncommon with Super Strength and you’ve got a great source of offense.
Is this the best team in the world? Heavens no, but it’s a potential start. It’s looking over what’s prevalent in the Meta and making an attempt at defusing those teams. There’s simply no way in 300 points you can plan against everything, so a counter team probably isn’t the best you can run.
I hope this article helps you think about the Meta a little bit more. Hopefully this small deconstruct of the top teams out there right now will inspire you to think of an idea no one else has. Remember, two months ago, Mxyzptlk was a footnote and Devil Dinosaur had yet to release and looked rather silly. Here they are winning ROC’s. You could have the next big team without even knowing it! I urge you; get together with some friends and test stuff out. If you’re planning on attending ROCtober, or the Wizkids Open in November, don’t be afraid to be different. Until next week!