If you’ve been following me on Reddit or talked to me in person, you probably know that I’ve been looking forward to attending my first large-scale tournament in the form of the WizKids Open coming up this February. Today I want to talk about my initial team and how it came crumbling down.
In case you aren’t familiar, the WizKids Open is 300 points, modern, and anything that’s legal is fair game, sans some maps that WizKids decided to ban. These happen in the Fall, Winter, and Spring, and lead up to Worlds in the summer, which is when we see rotation happen and pieces fall out of modern. It’s fairly cutthroat because everything is available to the players and can be intimidating. Still, I’ve heard they’re super fun and I owe it to myself to try and compete.
I knew that with the WKO, I needed to build a team that I thought was fun, interesting, and a fresh take on the meta. I didn’t want to ‘net-deck’ (copying a build online, usually a winning one, and simply playing that), and I wanted to stay away from the Quinjet, even though I’ve had a lot of practice with it, since I don’t own some of the necessary ID cards like Nightwing. The Quinjet is also going to be making a huge presence, and I don’t want to play mirror matches. So, I went to the drawing board on what I could play for this event.
Enter The Joker.
I really like this piece, and I talked about it a lot during my review of Joker’s Wild. Although I talked a lot about the laughing Joker (060), this guy ended up becoming my focal point for his outlandish offense and hard-to-kill nature. I like that his damage power gives people two action tokens when he hits with any attack, meaning he can lock the Quinjet or Krang down, and force people without Indomitable to take more damage from his already impressive damage output. His immunity to Precision Strike with Mastermind makes him a beast if you don’t have Outwit, and his STOP click is pure chaos with a whopping 12 attack, Mastermind that can’t be countered or ignored, and 4 damage with Ranged Combat Expert. Traited poison makes him a ruthless killing machine against pogs and folks without damage reducers (and even those with reducers if they’re under 140 points). The Joker had everything I wanted in a click. I looked into options on how I could make him really shine, and after being inspired by a friends build, I developed my team.
300 Point Modern WizKids Open Build
- JW 059 The Joker Possessed by Brainiac | 140 Points + 25 Points = 165 Points
- JW 066 Bizarro Green Arrow | 50 Points
- JW 060 The Joker with 3 Escape Tokens | 30 Points (10 points per token)
- SFSM 029 Overdrive | 35 Points
- Pandora’s Box with Sloth and Lust Relics | 12 Points + 4 Points + 4 Points = 20 Points
- Build Total: 300 points
Brainiac gives The Joker Impervious so that if they Outwit his Mastermind, he has something to fall back on, or grants him Outwit so that he can counter powers of his own. He can also take Pen/Psy to make his damage stick, and can up his damage to a 4 so that his Ranged Combat Expert can swing for 6 on his first shot. Later in the dial, he gets access to Pulse Wave and the amazing World Running Like Clockwork damage power that alleviates action tokens from himself. His last two clicks offer Regen so that The Joker can’t die unless your opponent is able to KO every one of his Mastermind targets and get through his 18 defense.
Bizarrow Green Arrow was the perfect safety net to protect The Joker: he offers the total elimination of ranged attacks so folks like Nick Fury who see through Stealth still can’t touch my main piece. If a team wants to Pulse Wave me, they either choose to not have Bizarro Green Arrow in the radius, which lets him take the attack and still use his Bizarro Ranged Combat Expert as he’s not in the radius of ignore effects, or they have to target him as well and make the damage drop down to 1. He’s also a grand Mastermind target since he has Invulnerability and two STOP clicks of his own.
The Joker (060) provided another amazing Mastermind target that could soak the big hits like Krang as he just can’t die unless a lot of time is put into it. His vast array of powers insures that he has some meaning and can do something throughout the game. From medium ranged harasser to Flurry, to Plasticity/Poison, there’s always something The Joker can do, if you can roll correctly. He also self-heals, so he’s literally the perfect Mastermind target.
Overdrive is a piece I’ve talked about a lot here because he’s just so sensational for his point cost of 35. He’s also a very cheap and safe way to cart the entire team around and avoid Joker’s lack of Running Shot. With the ability to jump into another vehicle as soon as the first one is destroyed, he’s a rather difficult taxi to KO.
For a resource, I went with Pandora’s Box because it offers everything that the team needs. With Lust on my main Joker, he gets Sidestep which helps him tremendously, and Plasticity insures that Hypersonic pieces won’t come in and ruin his day. Combat Reflexes means he has a 19 defense to deal with and since he has Stealth, only snipers that ignore hindering will be able to take shots. Sloth grants either of my Mastermind pieces the ability to slowly regenerate; I used it on Bizarro Green Arrow in every test game due to his lack of acting on turns and his STOP clicks. The last portion of Pandora’s Box which was super helpful was being able to grant The Joker Running Shot or Probability Control which takes care of his biggest weakness of no move and attack powers.
I was super pumped with my team and started testing with my friend who is also attending the event.
We did quite the testing, and after wrecking house on a Devil Dinosaur/Penguin/Round Table team, it was evident that the build had teeth. Things were looking good as I tested it against other random teams to see how it did. Then we moved along to other tests in terms of high-level meta teams. That’s when things got ugly.
The first match was against the all-powerful Doctor Strange/Faust Mystics team. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can read about it here as it took 4th place in the ROC World Cup in October. Of course, against a team like this, you have to take it with a certain grain of salt; the D20 rolls will completely determine how you play the game and your teams ability to adapt on the fly will prove if you’re victorious or not. Unfortunately, there was just too much chaos for a team with a single attacker to do any good. As soon as my team would get close enough to hit either of the opposing pieces, they could easily escape my range effectively making me start all over. What was really terrible was the fact that since Strange is 150 points, my Joker couldn’t poison him making it borderline impossible to get Strange off that dreaded first click. I think I played this team 2 times and when Faust Mystic locked my Charged Up bystander on game 2, I knew I had a problem.
The second match was against team undying, a build that took the win here in San Diego last Fall. It consists of Doop, Mystique, Resurrection Man, and Pandora’s Box. The goal of this team is to build up your force and activate Pandora’s Box making your pieces gods while your opponent can’t do anything to you unless they have Pulse Wave for Mystique or lots of attacks to KO Doop in a single turn. As expected, there was virtually nothing I could do to defeat this team. I got close in a turn as Doop was on his second click and my HAHAHA Joker rolled to Flurry and I had the potential to hit him 3 more times, but my attack rolls were horrible (I need a 9 twice) and I lost my only opportunity. What was really bad was that he rolled Invincible on Resurrection Man meaning I couldn’t penetrating Poison him, and I could never keep up with Mystique to shut her down via double Poison. The match ended in a draw.
Finally, I took on the team I dreaded, but thought I could defeat with proper planning: The Gatekeeper known as Krang. This was the instrument of my demise as I realized just how fragile the team was. Krang is absolutely devastating, and the swing of offense he has is incredible. My opponent made the wise decision of Pulse Waving me onto click two, where The Joker loses his special damage power, and drops to a mundane 10 attack, and then took the time to dismantle Overdrive in the span of two turns. I had no chance to get to his back line and destroy his support as any good anti-Krang strategy relies on. Because I could never get into range to hit Krang first, he methodically nuked every piece I had and picked my team apart one by one.
When you lose to Krang, you know that you have a problem. There’s a reason he’s called The Gatekeeper; he’s seen in virtually 100% of competitive events, but he never wins them. More than any other team, you have to plan for how you defeat Krang and how you avoid his incredibly raw power. I thought I had an answer, but it turned out Joker was just too slow to dish that answer.
In theory, I knew my team could handle a Quinjet (or at least hope to) since The Joker gives two action tokens to a hit target and any ID force hates getting action tokens. That’s why Iceman was so good against it last year at worlds and took second place, losing to Patrick in the final round (yes, with a Quinjet).
Once I lost to Krang, I got pretty frustrated. I thought my team was solid and had a really good shot at being competitive; this is my first big event so my goal is to compete. Winning would be grand, but I don’t know if I’m at that level. Regardless, with a 0 and 3 record against three big competitive builds and the inability to inflict a single click of damage to The Gatekeeper’s team, I had no choice but to scrap the build. Believe me, we sat for a good hour trying to hash it out and figure out what could work and what the weaknesses were. We both came to the conclusion that there just simply wasn’t enough offense on the force and it could get horribly out-actioned. Furthermore, if The Joker was knocked onto click 2, I had no way to heal him back to click 1 to regain steam. He was stuck in mediocreville and there wasn’t anything I could do. Much of his power diminished in the form of assigning action tokens. If I wanted to get back to an 11 attack, I’d have to give up Mastermind which means that any melee attack has the potential to knock him into his last click. Now, his last STOP click is amazing, but you never want to live there because you and your opponent know that just one damage will knock you completely out, and therein lied the real issue with my team.
The grand problem, more apparent than any other, was that if The Joker was KO’d, I was completely screwed with no reliable back-up damage. I had no ID cards, no Ultron Drones to help the damage spread. When The Joker is double tokened, my opponent could 100% count on the fact that I wasn’t doing anything on the following turn. It was easy to plan against and once you found out how your team got around the Mastermind and Bizarro Green Arrow, it was open season and on a train to easy-win town. Sure, both Jokers and Bizarro Green Arrow are hard to kill, but Overdrive isn’t (relatively), and he’s a huge part of my team. I saw against the Mystical team how much the comp falls apart without a reliable source of mobility. There were too many eggs, hell, ALL of my eggs, in one incredibly small basket, and I had to be honest with myself that the team wasn’t going to perform well.
That afternoon, we sat and discussed a different team I was toying with, and after some great conversations about how to counter different teams and what pieces could change, we came up with a pretty neat team build. Because I know people who read this will be at the same venue, I’m going to wait to post that team until after the tournament. I hope you all understand that!
I will do my best to keep a log of what happens at the WKO and give a detailed report of how my team did and what I played against, but I have no promises. I did this for my last big event at my LGS and it was pretty tough in my comfortable environment. I don’t know how well I’ll be able to record things and remember what happens when tensions are high and I’m nervous as hell. No guarantees, but I will 100% report on what team I ended up playing and how I did. That I can promise!
I hope you enjoyed this look into my thought process on the upcoming Winter WKO. Did this help you figure out what your team will be or help to eliminate some choices? If so, I would love to hear about them, as I’m sure others would too. List ’em in the comments below and we’ll have a nice little discussion that people can extract information from and this can sort of be a primer into how to think in terms of building a high-competitive team.
See you guys next week!