I’m playing X-Men, but not always…

About me: https://acrossthebifrost.com/author/mike.deluca

Hello and welcome back to my blog that takes me way too long to update. In this article I’ll be talking about Nashcon 2021! First off, I would like to give a tremendous thank you to Nate Jarrard and Gronco for organizing this event. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time since the dark days of covid began.

The List

Creating this was a joint effort between Sploosh, Mark Gerow, and myself. It is as follows:

Iron Fist
Field Dressing
All You’ve Got
Advanced R&D
Bitter Rivals
Heroes for Hire
First Class

Mutant Madman


If you were following Nashcon results, you might have noticed that I played unaffiliated every game, but you’ll also notice that Storm and some X-Men are here. Why was I playing X-Men at all? Other than wanting to make them work, the answer is that an X-Men gunline at 17-19 threat can be pretty good under the right circumstances. In situations where I have priority with an odd number extract (ie. Montesi, Cubes, Spiders) and the secure is not a C shape, I’ll play X-Men. The typical squads are as follows:

17 points has two squads:

  • Gunline – Storm, Domino, Cable, Medusa, Okoye
  • Scenario/Control – Storm, Domino, Beast, Medusa, Enchantress

18 points is Storm, Domino, Cable, Beast/Iron Fist, Medusa
19 points is Storm, Domino, Cable, Medusa, Enchantress

In the Dojo

In our test games (around 50+ games), all the losses had a couple things in common – Spider-Infected and C shape secures (Fisk, Terrigen, Sword, Meteors). All of these problems are rooted in Storm. Storm’s ideal game is when she can grab an extract and sit on a back secure, only coming forward for lightning bolts or throws when needed. 

On Spider-Infected while Storm is holding a spider, my opponent will move her forward with the crisis and then murder her. On C secures, she is forced to stand in the midline to be relevant. She’s too fragile for that and to top it off you get almost no value out of her cover since everyone is dogpiled into the center.

Realizing that I cannot play Storm, I started to think about unaffiliated. I’d be losing the leadership, which isn’t great on C secures, and the X-Men tactic cards are situational. First Class is best when you have a secure and extract that both need interacting. To Me, My X-Men is fine, but not exceptional and was weeded out for other cards that fix bad matchups. Children of the Atom is just not good. Why am I playing affiliated at all?

I did a lot of the test games into Criminal Syndicate. I gave them priority and played Mayor Fisk at 16 points (this is probably their best scenario). If you cannot displace their models effectively, you will lose. I’ve always been playing Enchantress in this matchup as she can control an entire flank on her own, but the other side would usually fail. One game I decided to play Medusa on the other flank because she can displace size 3. This turned out to be insanely good. At 16 I started running Medusa, Enchantress, Iron Fist, Domino, and Okoye. Medusa and Iron Fist go one side, Enchantress and Okoye to the other. Domino usually grabs extracts and kills weak models like Okoye. Adding to this, the combination of Okoye Bodyguard, Heroes for Hire, and sometimes Sacrifice made it difficult for my opponent to deal with Medusa and Enchantress. Then to top it off, you can play All You’ve Got on Domino or Medusa to erase an entire flank.

Extrapolating this idea to other threat values, the list became really strong at optimizing Medusa and Enchantress at lower threats that my opponents are often not prepared for. At 14 it plays Enchantress, Domino, Iron Fist, Nebula, and Okoye. At 15 it is Enchantress, Medusa, Iron Fist/Domino, Nebula, and Okoye. Nebula is an all star on Sword. She gives you the five activations you need to go last with Enchantress and she punches way above her weight in a 14 threat game.

The last piece of this list that I haven’t talked about is Lockjaw. Originally I was thinking about playing Jean as a counter to Black Order. With her you can stop Thanos from pulling in your models and you can out attrition them with Medusa and Domino. Adding to the endless counter tech arms race, we found out that the newest Black Order list was going to be playing Panic Grips with Time Gem Thanos. Thanos grabs one of your citizens and walks away forcing you to come into them. My initial theory was to play Storm, Domino, Jean, Enchantress, and Medusa. Storm grabs the citizen on your side that Thanos doesn’t. Domino walks to R4 of Thanos and grenades him. Jean moves to R2 of Medusa. Jean R&D’s one power to Medusa and Enchantress. Medusa Royal Decrees off of Jean then X-Men jumps off of Domino. This puts her into R3 of an incinerated Thanos. Medusa then pushes Thanos toward Enchantress who then walks up and steals his citizen and runs away. This ended up being very dicey. If Medusa has a bad game you will lose. Here’s a visual of what’s going on:

We found the better idea is to play Lockjaw. After Thanos steals your citizen, Lockjaw teleports Medusa and Enchantress forward. Enchantress gains a power from R&D, walks to Thanos, steals his citizen, and walks away. Medusa then Royal Decrees Enchantress farther back. To top it off, outside of Panic Grips, Lockjaw is good against Black Order because he can always activate after Thanos and undo whatever displacement Thanos did with his teleports.

Tactics and Crisis Selection

A couple notable tactics cards that made the cut outside of the obvious are Disarm and Sacrifice. Sacrifice is very good into Black Order and also in many other matchups. Put it on the table more and you’ll find it’s a very good card. Disarm is brought when playing on any map that is going to have two separate flanks. Typically what happens is you’ll start a round with priority because your opponent dazed one or more of your models. This becomes your swing turn, but both flanks need to be addressed simultaneously. Disarm allows you to neuter the side that you don’t address first. For example, Medusa is dazed and wakes up with a ton of power. You activate her, play Bitter Rivals, destroy that flank, then disarm the other flank closing your opponent out of the game.

Crisis-wise with X-Men you typically want to pick extracts with priority because you can play an odd numbered extract (like Cubes and Montesi), grab the middle, then walk back forcing your opponent to walk into your gun line. Senators is there for the games when your opponent gives you extracts when they have priority. It allows you to kill the senator carrier pretty easily due to the slow move and -1 defense and dodge dice. It also allows you to play 14 threat while having extracts in a pinch.

For the secures we have Demons, Mutant Madman, and Sword. Sword is here because we are uber teched for it (Enchantress, Iron Fist, Domino, Nebula, and Okoye) and many lists are not. Demons and Mutant Madman are great picks when we don’t have priority. X-Men can use First Class on Mutant Madman to gain a strong tempo advantage on round one and it is also equal scoring at 2-2. Demons is low scoring and plays to the gunline strategy. Demons is also great into Web Warriors and Criminals.

The Games

Round 1

My first round opponent was Tony Hicks. He was playing a mostly normal Criminal Syndicate and Cabal dual roster. He won priority and opted to take Extracts. Since I don’t have priority and he is playing Syndicate, I’m looking to play Sword, or Demons as a backup. Sword is great when you don’t have priority. You activate last to take control of the consoles and push one of their models back towards deployment. Additionally, Syndicate hates “pay to flip” because the secure portion of Kingpin’s leadership is dead. Demons is a backup because it is low scoring and punishes Syndicate for standing on the portals. I didn’t discard Sword and chose it. He chose Skrulls and 14 threat. My squad was Enchantress, Iron Fist, Domino, Okoye, Nebula. His squad was Sin, Crossbones, Viper, Zemo, Bob. I was a little worried I’d get out attrition-ed because games on Sword can go 5-6 rounds if the extract is low scoring. I was fortunate enough that Okoye got the Skrull round 1 and I was able to protect her while scoring Sword each round for a 20-0 round four win.

Round 2

Second round was Todd from Turn Zero Gaming. Todd was playing X-Men. He won priority and took Extracts. I’m still looking to play Sword here for the same reason as before, but my backup this time is Mutant Madman. I’m not interested in playing Demons into another X-Men player because it will become a dice off with Storm cover on both sides. He was also playing Modok, so I favored his odds in a dice off. Sword was discarded so I played Mutant Madman. He chose Research Station and 16 threat. Since we’re on Research Station, I wanted to play Medusa and Enchantress together because they can control the researcher extremely well. I also did not want to play the 9 point X-Men core due to Beast being weak to energy attacks and he’s threatening Cable, Cyclops, Storm, Enchantress, and Okoye. I fielded Medusa, Enchantress, Iron Fist, Domino, and Okoye. He fielded Storm, Cyclops, Domino, Medusa, and Okoye. It was a very close game with my Enchantress and Domino getting spiked early and his Cyclops getting spiked by my Okoye. Luckily, Iron Fist and Medusa were able to close it out in the end for a 17-13 win. Todd played very well and this game could have gone either way.

Round 3

Third round was against Andy Murray. Andy was playing a Defenders and Web Warriors dual roster. I won priority and took secures so I could force a “pay-to-flip”. Web Warriors and Defenders both have shaky power economy early. Web Warriors need power for their superpowers and Defenders want to send models through Strange’s portal. I discarded Sword and played Mutant Madman. He played Research Station. I chose 16 threat because it’s the lower of the two. I wanted to minimize the threat Defenders could send through the portal and at 16, Web Warriors have to play their 10 point core (Black Cat was not legal for the event) and either double 3s or a 4 and 2. I was happy with either, especially because his only 2 threat was Wong. I played my same squad at 16 as before with Medusa, Enchantress, Iron Fist, Domino, and Okoye. He fielded Miles, Gwen, Venom, Daredevil, and Wong. Medusa and Enchantress with bodyguard support from Iron Fist and Okoye controlled the game and pushed the researcher into the evac for an 18-12 win. Andy played well, but I think he had some holes in his list that I was able to take advantage of.

Round 4

Fourth round was against my dojo partner, Sploosh. We are of course running the exact same list. Sploosh won priority and took extracts. I opted to play Sword since I didn’t have priority. He picked 17 threat. Against our experience, he played Storm, Beast, Domino, Medusa, and Enchantress. To throw a curve ball, I played Medusa, Enchantress, Domino, Iron Fist, and Lockjaw. The game was insanely close and came down to a Sword 50/50 that I was fortunate enough to get for a 16-14 win.

Round 5

Fifth round was against the inbred online meta himself, Fingerguns. I was pretty excited to finally test the list against Black Order. I won priority and played Demons because I feel pretty comfortable out-aggroing Black Order with Lockjaw protecting my models from being tractor beamed in by Thanos. He played Alien Ship and I chose 19 threat. I played Medusa, Enchantress, Domino, Iron Fist, Lockjaw, and Okoye. He played Mind Gem Thanos, Reality Gem Corvus, Proxima, and Enchantress. We both had some spikes, but I had some awful luck this game. His Enchantress was able to grab the Kree Core bottom of round 1 and my All You’ve Got turn with Medusa produced 0 damage. By the end of the game every model was dead except for Domino, Lockjaw, and Thanos. I ran out of time to catch up on VPs and lost 14-13. I was extremely happy with my list and if he doesn’t find the Kree Core immediately or Medusa does literally anything on her All You’ve Got turn I think I win that game.

Top 8

This round was against Eric Foreman and his Criminal Syndicate. I won priority and played Sword and he played Legacy Virus. I chose 14 threat because Criminal Syndicate hates both Sword and 14 threat. He played Kingpin, Modok, Taskmaster, and Okoye. I played my usual 14 of Enchantress, Domino, Iron Fist, Okoye, Nebula. His Modok was Siren’s Called and Sword pushed to the deployment every round for a 16-8 win.

Top 4

My final round was the pioneer of Sam Spam, Sooner. I won priority and took extracts to try and avoid playing on Research Station. I was hoping he’d discard Sword but he didn’t and played it. I played Montesi because I had priority. I chose 17 because I didn’t want to play low with him having Enchantress and going last. In hindsight I should have played 14 because he can’t play Enchantress while being affiliated with his list since he was missing two threat Widow. I played Cable, Medusa, Domino, Iron Fist, Okoye. He played Sam, War Machine, Iron Fist, Vision, and Enchantress. In my testing against Sam Spam, Cable was pretty good in being able to out range Iron Fist’s Martial Artist and having a big terrain throw. Unfortunately I hadn’t tested into Sam Avengers with Vision and learned this game is that Cable is awful into him. Vision can sit in phased form getting extra defense dice against plasma rifle while also being immune to Cable’s throws. I feel like I lost this game in turn zero to a Sooner victory of 17-6.

Current state of X-Men

Closing out I’d like to talk a little bit about Xavier’s private school kids. As many other MCP players, the X-Men hold a special place in my heart. I love all their movement shenanigans and when their kit works it makes me feel like the smartest player at the table. Unfortunately I feel they are just too inconsistent in their current state. They want to be a mobile attrition team, similar to Midnight Sons, but they rely on 5 dice builders to connect which doesn’t always happen and they lack control to make up for it. To get my thoughts about them off my chest, here’s a list of issues I have right now:

  • Cyclops has an unusable leadership.
  • Cyclops feels like a three threat with 6/6 health.
  • Storm’s leadership is being outclassed by things like Bump in the Night. Bump can happen once for each character and does not limit you with holding extracts.
  • Storm’s Hurricane attack is functionally unusable. I mean for real, the attack ignores cover but it is only range two anyways?
  • Wolverine has no consistency and his charge is overcosted. In what world would I ever play Wolverine instead of Rogue?
  • Cable whiffing Plasma Rifle attacks is catastrophic.
  • Jean’s Matter Transmutation has too many restrictions on it regarding the following: range 2, 3 power cost, target must be activated, pushes instead of advance.

Some consolation would be that Domino and Rogue are fantastic. Magik is good, but the X-Men don’t need another dicey 3 threat assassin. I’m excited to see Colossus, but unfortunately their leadership is very shaky right now and I don’t see them being competitive until something changes in the form of more great characters or an errata. A small reminder here is that these opinions are only relevant if you’re trying to win games at the highest level of competition. You can absolutely win games and have fun with X-Men. I still play them casually quite often.

Thank you for reading and I hope this was educational. I have since moved on to playing A-Force and loving it. Their depth of characters is insane. See ya next time!

Leave a Reply