As of late, I have taken a small break from my beloved Webslingers. I’ve decided to start trying other factions to get a feel on how they play so that when I return to the Web Warrior faction I am better able to fight my enemies. To start my saga of alternative lists, I have started with X-Men.
For those of you who have been keeping up with the TTS league, X-Men have been doing quite well for themselves. As of writing this article, they are 2 of the top 4 lists that are undefeated in the Central league and the faction has seen a renewed interest with the release of a whopping 6 new characters for an ever growing roster of mutants.
How I See Them Working
I view the heart and soul of X-Men as teamwork. I know what you’re thinking, “Of course it’s teamwork, that’s how the game is played, you spandex spangler!” I think that they, more than any other faction, require a group to work together and position properly in order to best utilize their skills. Both leaderships have a minimal effect range and when it works it works well.
From there, I see them as a hyper mobile force. Many of their characters (Rogue, Wolverine, X-23, Honey Badger, Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Cable, Gambit, anyone under Storm’s leadership) have some form of movement shenanigans. They either move your dudes or move themselves. They have some exceptionally hard-hitting characters in their roster between Rogue, Gambit, X-23, and the off-turns with Wolverine. Their hard hitting nature is further compounded by their access to Incinerate through Domino and Cable and pseudo-Incinerate through Honey Badger. The faction can also be quite beefy due to its access to 3 characters with healing factor and 2 characters with Damage Reduction.
In addition, the team has some amazing synergy with their Team Tactics Cards (TTC). To Me My X-Men furthers the groups mobile nature with a centralized Avengers Assemble, First Class makes for some amazing turn 1 plays (and makes Wolverine viably niche, more on that later), and Children of the Atom is a major Uno Reverse card. This doesn’t count in other TTC such as Jonathan the Unstoppable, Rogue’s ability to become another X-Manish for a turn, and Jean’s ability to take over someone’s brain for a turn. The group has some very decent to fantastic TTC.
However, they are not all roses. X-Men suffer from power economy. Their Super Powers are often expensive (for example, Wolverine has a 3 power super charge that only allows you access only to Adamantium Slash, Field Commander being 3 power for a short advance, Storm’s damage steroid, etc.) In addition, the economy of excellent super powers shorts their ability to perform meaningful spenders. It is a faction that feels like it skirts the line between a control faction with the sheer amount of moves, pushes, and throws they can carry and attrition with the amount of punishment they can dish out. It is a fine line to walk between both and it is often difficult to pull off with X-Men’s need for positioning.
Finally, some characters are just short of where they should be. Two of the greatest offenders of this are Wolverine and Cyclops. The two feel like they are .5 points below where they should be. If both of these characters were 3s they would be top tier candidates for any list, but they are 4 threat characters and are just not quite, in my opinion, up to the mantle of 4 threat. In theory, they can do a lot. Cyclops pushes, has the ability to take some power on a long range beam, can move people, and help support others with their spenders. In reality, his eye lasers are more like baby tears as he flails his arms around demanding his X-Men look at his quaffed hair. This is further compounded by some of their faction being unable to directly work with scenarios. Honey Badger can only do it through Jonathan the Unstoppable, but that takes up a TTC slot (which is a premium for X-Men), and Wolverine being unable to interact on his backside. Several of the X-Men feel lackluster at best and some have said that a couple of bottom tier (looking at you Mr. “best there is at what I do, and what I do is subpar”).
This isn’t to say X-Men can’t or don’t work. They do. They are a good faction now. This isn’t to say you won’t have your pop off moments with characters many think aren’t good (I once dealt 9 damage off 4 dice with Wolverine). What this is to say is that the group is difficult to work with and can be a high skill cap high reward faction in the correct hands and with the correct plans. If you plan on playing X-Men, plan on playing many games with them to get your vectors and tactics down.
– Cyclops: 4
– Domino: 3
– Gambit: 3
– Honey Badger: 2
– Hulk: 6
– Magik: 3
– Rogue: 4
– Storm: 3
– Wolverine: 4
– X-23: 3
– Bitter Rivals
– First Class
– Gamma Launch
– Jonathan the Unstoppable
– Journey Through Limbo
– No Matter the Cost
– To Me, My X-men!
– X-Ceptional Healing
– Fear Grips World as “Worthy” Terrorize Cities [D]: 18
– Research Station Attacked! [E]: 16
– Struggle for the Cube Continues [F]: 17
– Gamma Wave Sweeps Across Midwest [E]: 15
– Infinity Formula Goes Missing [B]: 17
– Riots Spark Over Extremis 3.0 [D]: 17
Unit Break Down
Storm and Cyclops
I play Storm and Cyclops very similarly in my lists: as back field objective holders. More often than not I go with Storm as the leader. She is cheaper, she gives the group more mobility, and she provides cover outside of R2. Scott gives more punch than storm and when he is full up on power can potentially move more people, but I find that Storm’s defensive tech built into her mobility based leadership outweighs Cyclops’. This is further compounded by Cyclops’ ability to take power from other individuals to fuel spenders, thus making their power economy harder to deal with in a faction that already has power economy issues. It is hard to justify him over Storm. I really wish he just had a counterpart to Steve Rogers and it just made your first spender cost 1 less to a minimum of 1. This would open Wolverine up so much under his leadership and would make some of the other X-Men go into turbo mode. But, to be honest, in lieu of him not being changed with the last update, he is on my list of characters to potentially take out and replace with someone like Cable who still plays well in the list and gives access to a different faction. What stops me, however, is that Cable is more expensive and my TTCs are already very hard to balance. I really don’t need solid cards like Pretty Sneaky, Sis and Cat and Mouse, further giving me headaches.
The Stab Squad – Wolverine, X-23, Honey Badger
I am going to break this part up into 2 parts: X-23 and Honey Badge and then Wolverine.
X-23 and Honey Badger are a wonderful duo. A 5 point character broken up over 2 characters, but without the downside of not being able to work alone. X-23 is what, in my mind, Wolverine should have been or something similar. She hits so hard and is everywhere. Her spender being only being 2 power, R3, and allowing her to move is major and gives her this feel of a mobile murder bot. She is defensible with a re-roll and healing factor and if you include Honey Badger she is even more mobile. Honey Badger is the first 2 for X-Men and, while she can’t interact with points, she is a heavy hitter for a 2 with healing factor and a psuedo-Incinerate for others. If you tag her and her big sister together on a target they are going to have a hard time dealing with the blender.
However, we then have Wolverine. I have specifically used Wolverine in the majority of my games for 2 reasons: to write this article and cause I like his character. He is so close to being good. Like, really close. But as he stands, he is a 3-3.5 in a 4 threat body. His attacks are good, his healing factor is good, but his lack of mystic defense and his backside’s inability to interact with points means he is lackluster for a 4. I really wish they just made it to where he had X-23’s rerolls and the ability to interact on his injured side and then I think he would be a real solid 4. But, we aren’t here for wishlists. He does one thing really really well. One could say he is the best at it or something. He holds cubes like a champ. Wolverine can hold up to 2 cubes a turn and, as long as he activates first, does not really see a downside to holding them when you consider his healing factor. This also gives Wolverine the power needed to do a super-charge or Berserker Barrage every turn, giving him the maneuverability he needs to stay aggressive. Wolverine also likes hammers, but it does put a damper on his ability to use exceptional healing. His uses are niche but when they work they work really really well.
Gambit and Rogue
Rogue and Gambit act as beaters in the list. Gambit, once fed on power, is capable of decimating a line with his spender and charge attack. Doubling on wilds on a D7 beam attack is amazing, but able to turn a hit into a wild is even better. In addition to this, Gambit is able to cause splash damage into a group like on Researchers or Gamma and it can change the balance of the game immensely. When a character only has 5 health, doing a splash of 1 within R2 is just stripping them of 20% of their HP by just standing there. He also benefits from pushes if you are forced to fight over a point, which his ability to change hits to wilds makes more consistent.
Rogue is my true love in the list though. At 4 she hits like a Mac Truck with no breaks. Adaptable damage on her builder which also sucks power, efficient size 4 terrain throws, and a size 4 character throw on a spender means she is hitting way above her threat value. The last game I played with her she dazed Dormammu predominantly by throwing stuff and people at him. She finished him off by sapping power and a slug to the face. It was glorious watching Rogue decimate the Dark Dimension’s master by slapping him with Juggernaut. She also has damage reduction built in and can drain power off a character with the possibility of just doing straight damage. Did I mention she has a charge? She has a charge. I am glad that AMG made it to where my childhood crush on the Southern Belle could continue on into my adulthood and potentially get me in trouble with my spouse over plastic. Thanks guys.
Coming from Web Warriors I wanted some mobility. Magic gives me that and something I sorely lacked in Spider-folk: Mystic Defense. Her high mystic defenses in addition to her great mobility are fantastic. She hits fairly hard too with a mystic attack with pierce and a spender that counts all skulls, both in your attack and your enemy’s defense. But, the real reason I love her here is her TTC, Journey Through Limbo. Being able to drag someone R3, friend or foe, where you need them is amazing. Giving them Incinerate is also fantastic if it’s a foe. She sets up plays like a champ and plays Portal while doing it. She is a triumph and I made a note she is a huge success. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction. She drags her enemies down below because they are dead. But there’s no use crying over every portal mystic, we just keep on fighting till we run out of cake. And then the points are won and you daze someone for X-Men who are still alive.
Some consider Domino one of the best 3s in the game. I would be inclined to agree with her due to her probability manipulation and her ability to hand out Incinerate cheaply. I hope you are noticing a theme here. I am going to talk about it soon.
But her ability to change skulls to crits and have a Hex aura is astounding for her offense and her defense. It cannot be understated how important it is to know the exact upper limit your opponent can achieve on both hitting and defending when it comes to planning out your next moves. Domino is a character that is hard to kill because she takes away explosive power from your enemy and makes her own downsides a bit better.
The one X-Man to not make the list is Hulk. I love Hulk and in X-Men he gains two things under Storm – Mobility and Defense. If your opponent is within R2 of Hulk they are within smacking range. If they aren’t Hulk gets cover and can get within smacking range pretty easily. I personally like to pair him, Rogue, and Storm together. It’s 13 points of 3:16. Hulk’s large base moves him quickly and saving points on Gamma Leaps means you are Hulk Smashing your enemies even harder more often. One of the things X-Men lacked was a true beast of a hitter and Hulk fills that void with gusto. He is hard to take down due to Puny Banner and Cover, he fights hard on smaller scenarios, which I have chosen with my B, E, and to a lesser extent, D maps. His bunny hops get him far enough up early on that you can get on a researcher, punch someone and potentially throw terrain at people to get some massive damage through early on or just throw someone off the point. I have found Hulk to have only failed me once so far when I field him and that was into Magneto who spiked him for 17 damage in one turn. Thanks Mutant Manifesto.
If you find that your dudes aren’t hitting hard enough, Incinerate is for you. Domino and Magik giving Incinerate and Honey Badger situationally reducing defense is huge. Storm, Domino, Magik, Honey Badger, X-23 is 14 points. You are able to give out a lot of defense reduction and X-23 now has pierce with a group that may have only 1 defense dice to begin with. It’s a Femme Fatale Fight Fest and I am here for it. I just find the readily available status in this list makes it hit much harder than you would expect and it’s taken a foe or two off guard when Rogue punches someone’s jaw off because of the stacking defense reduction.
X-Men feel so much better now than they did before. In fact, they feel so good now that I am considering making them one of my main factions. They have some kinks to work out, but the new additions have been, for the most part, stellar. Not Colossus though. I don’t know what they were thinking when they made metal Luke Cage but with more threat.
But, the rest of the faction, even those who don’t feel or play great on their own, seem to work well with the team work of the faction. I look forward to seeing who comes out next to make the faction better. Would be pretty cool if Iceman was down the pipe or Nightcrawler. I would also love to see an Archangel and Psylocke box that is dual affiliation with X-Force (Psylocke being a possible secondary leader would be fantastic. But, we will see what the future holds.
Till next time Webslingers.