With US Nationals fast approaching, I figured I’d take a stab at one of the more competitive builts in the Modern meta, to see if it actually has the potential to upset the meta. Let’s get everyone to…
Format: Casual Golden Age (Modern recommended)
The Team: The Iceman cometh.
The core combo for this is one that’s straightforward, but incredibly deadly: Iceman + Magic Missile. With a twist, this time; Hulk serves both as a backup win condition, and as a way to set up one big nasty turn. If both are active at the same time, you deal 2 damage per bolt energy spent from both Iceman and Hulk (for a total of 4 damage per bolt), and you can win, outright, with 5 bolts. That’s disgusting.
This team needs bolts, though, and lots of them. I decided to put in Mjolnir for its sidekick fixer global. I also decided that I needed to put in a 2-cost bolt die to help me get bolts more easily. I was debating between two options in this regard: Yellow Lantern Ring, which is a fantastic removal tool that can bypass most control cards when you’re lucky, and Chwinga, which acts as fantastic ramp and churn when used alongside Magic Missile (which I’m already using anyway!). I decided to use both, and see which would help me more.
I put in Shriek for blanking (and hey, if I miss her character face, that’s more bolts!) and Kree Captain is there for the global to help me get Iceman and Hulk. Atlas’ global is intended to add a bit of extra ramp (and the character’s not a bad backup win condition!), and Take Cover…I put in so that the team would not be completely competitively optimized. The global does help me buff Iceman’s defence so that he can be targeted more times with Magic Missile, but that spot should be left for Static Field, absolutely. No debate to be had about it. I’ll elaborate on why in the post-mortem.
With that said, on to the games!
I started off against a brand new player, essentially teaching him the game from scratch. I gave him a team built out of my spares for him to sink his teeth into (with a variety of win conditions and control pieces to introduce him to different gameplay styles). The point wasn’t to use my strategy optimally, but rather to show him how the game works. I did win in the end (hard not to with a strategy this nasty), but the real win is that he enjoyed the experience and managed to use his newfound knowledge to get better every game tonight, eventually winning his last game! Big kudos to him.
Next up, I got to play against Boom Boom + Ping with some Parasite shenanigans thrown in there. He brought me Clayface, and it helped me set up considerably faster. I had Chwinga, Yellow Lantern Ring and Iceman all purchased by T2, and from there, the damage kept pouring on. He eventually bought Shriek when he realized I had the faster team, but by that point it was too late; she never had the time to hit the field as he took 8 damage from Iceman, then 12. I won.
For game 3, time for some X-men shenanigans. Between Mimic, Dani Moonstar, Domino, and other nasty stuff, my opponent’s got some varied strategies built in. I wanted to try for Iceman and Hulk together this time, and I did. A missed roll on my end let me buy Hulk and before I could take serious damage, my opponent stared down at both Hulk and Iceman. When you deal 4 damage to your opponent per bolt spent, the game doesn’t last long. I only needed one turn to deal 20 damage to my opponent. Yes, seriously.
-That Iceman lends itself to a very lean strategy; when I didn’t go for Hulk, I would buy a total of 3 and 4 dice in the entire game and just load up on bolts and go for the win. So if I can be the aggressor, I generally won’t need Hulk.
-With that said, when Hulk and Iceman are on the field together, it’s an almost guaranteed win. Definitely a good backup plan to have if the game stalls (e.g. Shriek, Widow, Bishop show up on the other side). Wait for the Yellow Lantern Ring to show up with both set up, and when the Ring rolls, clear out the opposing control pieces and obliterate your opponent in one big turn.
-Pro-tip: Iceman does not have to attack to deal his ability’s damage. When you can, attack with a sidekick, turn it into a bolt with Mjolnir during the global step and ping away at Iceman.
-On the Chwinga vs Yellow Lantern Ring debate I had: I’m sort of leaning towards Chwinga. Cheap bolts, good one-sided ramp and churn, helps the team flow substantially better. But the Ring is very helpful, and I would probably put both due to the recommendation I’m making directly below.
-Kree Captain should be a good fit, but it’s not. I just didn’t roll enough fists to take advantage of it. Clayface would’ve been far more helpful, and I loved having access to it in Game 2. This gives me an advantage that on T1, I could buy both Chwinga and Yellow Lantern Ring and go for Iceman on T2, allowing me to set up an interesting strategy.
-In case you didn’t see it earlier: put Static Field instead of Take Cover (or replace Atlas by Kate Bishop and use Resurrection instead of Take Cover) if using this strategy competitively. You want that global as a counter against aggressive strategies like Fixit. Plus, it helps your strategy; if you’re forced to attack with Iceman to trigger his ability, you can pull him back and use him again next turn.
-Quick-fire comparison: do I like this better than the SR Mimic + Hulk combo from a while back? Yes, I do. Being able to win with just the cheaper character and bypass Hulk entirely is key to this team’s competitive viability.
So overall, could Iceman+Hulk be a serious competitive contender? Yes, it could. I originally thought the competitive meta would be a trifecta of Collector, Fixit and Dragons, but maybe this will sneak in some wins too. Looking forward to next week’s US Nationals to see what happens.