Welcome back to my series of articles on X-Force. This article will focus on what to look at when building out your roster within the affiliation as a character breakdown and what each character provides. As we discussed in the previous article, I consider X-Force (as an affiliation) to be an aggressive or aggro team. A lot of the in affiliation characters are very “spikey”, dice-reliant, dice manipulation reliant, or can straight leave a bad taste in your mouth because they feel as if they are under performing for their threat value. (I’m looking at you Cable, Wolverine, Sabretooth, the list goes on…) But maybe, just maybe we look at these characters wrong.
Maybe we should look at them for what they provide, not just “Wolverine needs all these Tactics Cards to feel good”, “Sabretooth just dies”, or “Cable should have a six die builder”. When we combine these characters with support pieces, or a game-plan just maybe they will perform as we originally thought they would. This is what I would like to dive into in this article, lets discover that game plan as I provide core concepts of how to utilize these character’s strengths and weaknesses. As we talk about what to bring with the affiliation, and out of affiliation focusing on the characters. (again this will be a series, the next article we will discuss the out of affiliation characters to consider)
Let’s begin with our time-traveling leader, Cable AKA Nathan Summers. Do me a favor, forget everything you know about Cable on the table. Forget all the talk about him. Now lets look at the picture I have posted above focusing on the super powers first. Oh that’s cool he gets a range two place on himself he must be pretty good at moving between secures and not really affected by displacement as much. WOW! I get to spend power equal to the size for a throw? Talk about efficiency, am I right? Wait he gets to add two dice to the defensive roll of an ally within range three for only two power? AND he starts off with two power every round? But, you ask doesn’t his leadership get laughed at? I return with, but why? Wouldn’t everyone want a re-roll? Sure it could be better but still it really isn’t that shabby, and it can easily be that one hit you need to take someone out. Now finally lets look at his attacks, range 5! RANGE 5!!! He can literally hit almost anyone he needs to with his gun!
When playing X-Force the name of the game is target prioritization, Cable shoots, gets incinerate on big bad guy, now my friends get to go take them out! Then there’s his spender, WHEN he gets to use it to it’s maximum effectiveness, its great and it only gets better on the flip side. Let me heal and stagger some people! It’s great I tell you, typically this is a YOLO move or the stars align and you get a magical AOE (area of effect) off that is just pure bliss and makes you love this character.
So why does Cable get a bad wrap you ask? I’ll tell you, it’s because of his team and cast of characters he brings with him. Cable gets left having to do a lot of work when he shouldn’t be, let’s face it he’s truly a support character. I believe this is changing, with X-23 coming out my games with Cable have felt much better, he can actually do his role. His Super powers are all support, he should be bouncing between secures, firing his plasma gun and occasionally putting incinerate out. Well why is he 5 threat then, other 5 threats can be support and do way more! Again I point you to the previous paragraph. In this light does Cable really seem that bad? I implore you, the reader, the next time you play X-Force play cable as a support piece managing secures, bouncing back and forth, use his power to boost defense, flip points, and just maybe get that magical wild to get incinerate out where needed. (also hes fairly good at helping take down Juggernaut with that energy gun at range 5) Needless to say I love Cable and think he is completely underrated. Is he an all-star 5 threat? No not by any means, but he is solid, and he supports the team more so than him taking out models or making big plays.
Now to my point of why his cast of characters make him seem less than he is. If I have a character that should be supporting, managing secures, using his power for good! Then… why am I attacking and hoping Cable is Dazing characters? He most often ends up holding way more weight than he is truly capable of, this is why Cable is a “BAD” character in the game. We should be taking a close look at our in affiliation characters to carry the weight, as well our out of affiliation characters, those who can benefit from Cable’s support and actually carry the weight of the team, some examples include Domino, and X-23, for out of affiliation we can look to someone like Dr. Strange Sorcerer Supreme, Hood, or Moon Knight to name a few.
Next we have our beloved Domino. I really don’t need to say much here about this character. My opinions is she is an Auto-include in almost (key word almost) every game. There will be times where you just need to use someone else. However, Domino is just solid, rapid fire on her attack, or a grenade bounce ignoring cover! plus her super power to make her own luck? She has been the primary anchor for the team in all reality carrying all the weight, which is why they have had issues in my opinion. I really don’t need to go in depth here. Take Domino, she always gets work done. Mostly utilized for ticking damage, and the occasional spike, or supporting a side to get incinerates out. (In a later article we will talk in depth game-plans)
I’ll move onto Colossus. We have seen his card and to many he leaves us wanting more. Why couldn’t he have have had a character throw or a push on his builder, either of these two things would make me fall in love with him in this team. With how he is though he just ends up throwing wolverine, and then sitting there wishing someone would just hit him. He is easily displaced, he’s slow, and he just leaves you wanting more. Sadly At this moment we will be benching Colossus. If you have found luck with him please hit me up, I truly can not find where he fits an X-Force roster due to these reasons. When he first was revealed I ran many test games trying different approaches and literally all he did was throw wolverine and then wish someone would hit him. He is one of those characters that does not support the aggressive play style I am advocating, and this is why he gets the bench.
Ah Logan… sitting there, wishing you were X-23… Okay he’s not really that bad but man X-23 really makes him sad. That being said there is some stock in running both X-23 and Wolverine together. No, not because of the tactics card, but because he is aggressive. He is also the only member of the X-Force affiliation with some kind of character displacement.
Wolverine should be a strong consideration in my opinion as he actually plays a rather interesting objective game and can keep you from falling too far behind. For instance, round 1, wait until last activation, move up, no matter the cost Berserker Barrage to your opponent’s B point do some damage and throw the character off! Boom 1 VP for you and not your opponent, and then we are in the scrum ready for next round.
Sure he has weak mystic defense with a 2, but hes got 7 health. His effectiveness will come down to deployment strategy. Let’s leave Wolverine for last to deploy and put him right where we want him. Not across from someone like Wanda or Blade… Utilize Wolverine as an aggressive piece to deny your opponent points and of course damage. I don’t see a need to break down his card, it’s just get out there and use him in this way. Proper deployment, as aggressive as you can be with him, and deny your opponent VP.
Next, let’s talk about Deadpool. Good ol’ Wade Wilson. Short and sweet here I promise. Deadpool actually gets a bad wrap as well from some people that really is not deserved. I think typically in these cases he is not being played correctly. He is okay at running extracts, okay at going in after secures, but what he is great at is being really annoying!
I like to think of Deadpool as my harassment piece. I will sit there pop off bangs if I need some ticking damage. You could also rush him in and go staby stab with his builder. His front side, his focus in the game should be bang or stab, and using his “Merc with a Mouth” ability to really just be the harasser that he is. Once he flips however, all the power you’ve built up can be used for “Maximum Effort” at this point he becomes fairly mobile, can bounce between points or scoop up extracts, and put out some more damage with this attack. Then he just goes back to being a harasser, this is how I would recommend using him and typically he doesn’t go down unless I miss play. Also don’t forget his Unicorns and rainbows ability. Think about him on games that involve researcher, or sword he is a lot harder to displace which makes him awesome to have affiliated.
Alright moving on we get to Sabretooth. Off the top of my head, when someone asks me what I feel of Sabre, he is THE best affiliated 4 slot in the team. This is the affiliation Sabre calls home. I actually used to be incredibly down on him and team wolverine. Once I actually gave him a shot it was mind changing.
He can be aggressive, (I mean it is on his card) kind of a brawler, he does make money on his spender, and his builder can be useful as well. I typically run him on a lighter flank, or even sometimes jam him right up the middle. I’ve had games where I will just YOLO him right up the middle and dare my opponent “hit me.” He has an okay health pool and another X-Ceptional healing target. He’s eh on defenses but it’s average.
Where he really shines is running extract’s with that L move. He also can be extremely useful when your opponent hits him to counter attack and even take them out on their turn! ( Don’t forget he can utilize X-Force leadership on his counter attack) So I would classify him as another harasser, he isn’t putting out too much damage, and an objective runner, with his L move and okay defenses.
Finally, we get to X-23. If you have not “proxied” her yet or tried her out you are truly in for a treat. When she comes to the game officially she truly changes the team in my opinion. She is just pure aggression model, more so than Wolverine. She has her own little turn 1 plays that can deny VP, as well she is typically punching above her weight class.
A great example of how to use her would be very similar to Wolverine’s turn one I mentioned earlier. Move up, No matter the cost, use builder, then make an advance on to your opponents B, pay to flip or contest, robbing them of 1 VP in the first round, it really can go a long way. Then she gets even better when paired with her sister but lets look at her in this vacuum.
I have heard many people say she’s a glass cannon, or she will be taken down easily. Not really the case here, her re-roll helps her out so much and badger might be near to taunt. She is also incredibly mobile and loves to use her spender more than anything dancing around the mat. For instance, you can builder if you don’t have the power, get bleed onto your opponent, then spender, move away off the attack to safety but still in range to spender again if you have the power or to disengage if needed. She is incredibly fun and completely contributes to the game plan of aggro.
Her biggest downfall I have found is control. If your opponent can control her then she starts to fall. My best advice is don’t put her somewhere this can happen. Yes this cant always be avoided, but I suggest try your best. To sum her up, she is pure aggression use her for damage spikes, hunting 3 threat’s typically or even larger if it is set up properly as well, denial of VP for your opponent. I almost never scoop up extracts with her but use her to deny secures, if you are denying VP it’s still helping.
The point of going through all these characters this way is to show you in this light the characters of X-Force really are not all that bad and are a great springboard to building out your roster. There are a couple of different directions that you can go, but when looking at our in affiliation characters, as I have stated before, we look for aggro or VP denial. Which each of these characters really tend to that thought.
I would recommend as a base with current releases going with: Cable, Domino, Deadpool, Wolverine or Sabretooth. This is a great start because of what it is bringing and then you look to the out of affiliation to double down on this aggression and VP denial. Once 23 comes out though this changes. I would at that point recommend Cable, Domino, X-23, Deadpool as your base. You can start to run a little wider as another affiliated three comes out or stick to the narrow plan.
From talking to multiple people, as well my own experiences I have found that there are typically 3 ways of building out X-Force. Melee being Cable, Wolverine, Sabre, X-23 for instance would be the base, go pure aggression melee models. Or you could go gun-line, something like Cable, Domino Deadpool, Winter Soldier, other three threats or four threats or even five threats that have a good ranged attack, and just melt your opponent before they even get to you. I have found my favorite to be the third method and that’s a good split of the two, something along the lines of Cable, Domino, X-23, Sabretooth, and then other melee characters or at ranged. The biggest key is what is your plan. Are you going to be jamming models and hoping the aggression is enough? or are you going to jam a few, with some supporting shots from behind. Both can work and really comes down to what you enjoy. Again, I would recommend the mix though as this tends to be the most effective.
I feel as if writing this, I have not really answered the question at hand just yet, but I am of the mindset that I need to build the basis for how I look at these characters and how I build my team. Our next article will be looking at the out of affiliation characters, then finally dive into what we are actually taking. Again though, I believe I need to establish this mindset of what these characters do before we start diving into specifics. I hope this article helps you understand a little bit more of why I am so in on X-Force, why I enjoy playing them and maybe some thoughts you had not considered when looking at your in affiliation characters. Maybe a light bulb of oh hmm I didn’t think of this character this way maybe I am using them wrong. Or maybe this article just told you what you already know. Regardless, this is part 1 of character coverage, and as I said the next article will cover out of affiliation and actually begin building a roster.
Be sure to check out other articles and content creation on Acrossthebifrostnexus.com
As well don’t forget to support the game stores out there!
Also if you haven’t, check out The Danger Room Podcast on your favorite podcast app or however you listen to them, we put out weekly content with a competitive focus with topics ranging from meta picks, to understanding competitive concepts, and pretty much anything under the sun that could be looked at in a competitive mindset! We also have a discord that you can join, chat and ask anything you like https://discord.gg/ZXnTbxQ468