The subtitle on the Rare Dark Phoenix is “Destructive Force”. I started with her, combined her with the low cost, arguably underappreciated Basic Action Confront the Mighty and sprinkled in a certain old school (i.e. Golden/Silver Age) character who apparently always answered “No” to the most common question on ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ I found the result was a concoction worthy of the title of this article.
What Did You Play?
That’s an intriguing ability, but there are some limitations. First, it has to be dealt by an opposing character die. Second, she comes with her own counter in the form of her global.
Any opponent with a whit of sense and a bolt to spare is going to KO any of their character dice blocking or being blocked by Dark Phoenix. Which means if you’re going to rely on combat damage to trigger her ability, you’ll need to bring a support piece to shut down or at least penalize (i.e. tax) your opponent’s global usage.
Istrid Horn needs to be drawn (or Prepped) at the right time and rolled as a character. Plus if your opponent has a Dark Phoenix of their own, Istrid Horn only shuts down one copy of the global (per die, admittedly, but trying to use two Istrid Horn dice to shut down both copies of the global at the same time would be highly problematic.)
Eddie Guerrero doesn’t prevent players from KO’ing their high A blockers before the attack step.
Cards that tax opponent’s global usage can certainly make things difficult for an opponent, but “more difficult” isn’t “impossible.”
So it looked to me like their wasn’t any ideal solution to trigger Dark Phoenix’s ability – as far as combat damage was concerned.
Yes, there is an alternative. A select few (three, by my count) Basic Actions result in two opposing character dice dealing damage to each other, which satisfies the ‘from an opposing character die’ condition of Dark Phoenix’s ability.
Actions which result in two opposing character dice dealing damage to one another.
Confront the Mighty is generally regarded as a removal tool. By combining it with Dark Phoenix, I was going to turn it into an offensive weapon. With the advantage that my opponent can’t use it to remove the most important part of my team – Dark Phoenix – without triggering the effect I want.
So Dark Phoenix and Confront the Mighty was always going to be Plan A. What went in to the build to support that plan?
I should mention that my local scene does not restrict itself to Modern. Given that, there was one card I had to include – the common SP//dr from the Thor set. While he’s active all damage dealt to Villains – which includes Dark Phoenix – is doubled. Which means that the damage Dark Phoenix deals in turn is also doubled.
As an added plus, SP//dr is a bolt character. So if his dice come up energy, they can be fuel for the Dark Phoenix global or the matching energy type needed when purchasing a Dark Phoenix die.
Next was Storm: The Storm Goddess Comes from the X-Men Forever Campaign Box. A 2-cost bolt with a ‘when fielded’ ability that allows me to reroll an action die in my Reserve Pool. So I get an extra chance to land each Confront the Mighty die on a desired face for each Storm die I can field on a given turn. Plus she’s 1 D on two levels, making her easy to KO to allow for the re-use of her ‘when fielded’ ability on future turns.
Two cards were included solely for their globals – Rare Mister Sinister and Supreme Intelligence (any of the three with the global.) I want plenty of Sidekick in my Field Zone to target with the DP global, so when the time is right I can buy a Dark Phoenix for 5 or even 3.
The Supreme Intelligence global allows me to Prep one die of cost 2 or less from my Used Pile each turn. So I can use it on Confront the Mighty and/or Storm dice so I don’t have to cycle them through my bag.
I chose Paul Heyman as my second BAC as a contingency plan. Given their low cost, there was always a risk that an opponent would buy up the Confront the Mighty Basic Action dice before I did. It wasn’t a huge one, but it was there.
If that happened, I would switch to Paul Heyman. Why Paul Heyman instead of Archnemesis? Partly, Heyman is cheaper, but mostly because I didn’t want to give my opponents access to the Archnemesis global.
The Paul Heyman action leaves the choice of which of his dice to use to my opponent, I’m presuming he’ll go as cheap as possible to minimize the damage from Dark Phoenix, which means that die will probably be KO’d and my opponent will take life loss.
Grey Hunter was included primarily to allow me to eliminate my opponent’s chump blockers, particularly his Sidekicks. So If I’m forced into going the Paul Heyman route my opponent will have to choose something with at least a small cost. Which means when I use the action, Dark Phoenix will take, and in turn deal, that damage.
That leaves two regular cards spots. For the first of those, I decided to include a counter to any blankers (such as Typhoid Mary) who might show up. Specifically, I went with Asuka. No, not the discount one. She does have other cards.
I can still use Confront the Mighty as a removal tool, but that means I’m not using it offensively. Asuka: No One Is Ready has Intimidate, which is a handy, albeit temporary, removal tool. She also gives an opposing Sidekick a +1A buff when she’s fielded. If an opponent is being canny and keeping his high A characters out of his Field Zone, I can at least buff a Sidekick so using Confront the Mighty with it will allow Dark Phoenix to deal 4 damage per use instead of just 2.
The last slot went to the uncommon Moira. She is a 3-cost shield with 3 abilities. The ‘while Wolverine is active’ D-buff is irrelevant on this team. Storm is the only other X-man on the team, so Moira’s ‘when fielded’ effect that gives a +1A buff to all X-men dice is of limited utility. No, she was on the team because of her ‘when KO’d’ effect which allows me to Prep a die from my Used Pile.
So, that’s how the team was designed to work. How did it turn out in practice?
This was against our group’s newest player, who mentioned beforehand he wanted to see if he could make an Uncommon Mister Sinister team work. Now, Uncommon Mister Sinister has a ‘when fielded’ ability that blanks all opposing character dice until end of turn. He did use that ability a couple of times during the game, but while it can disrupt an opponent, it’s hardly a win condition.
Other pieces on the team were Psylocke: Telepath (the Uncommon) which gives a target character Overcrush when fielded, Asuka (the ubiquitous one) and The Collector: Stolen Cosmic Cube (the Common). He also had the Bizarro with the stat flip global on the team, which ultimately proved more useful to me than to him.
That Collector has an Energize ability that allows the player to roll a die from his Used Pile, as well as a ‘when fielded’ ability that allows him to field a character die from his Used Pile at Level 1 (which must be KO’d at end of turn.)
He used his Psylocke’s to give his Asuka’s Overcrush (and buff them) while also using his Collector abilities to field as many mask characters as he could to increase the buff.
A couple of solid hits got me down to ten life, but things stalemated for a time from there.
I wasn’t about to KO his Psylockes (or his Collectors) if I didn’t have to – and I didn’t. With the globals on his Collector and my Mister Sinister replacing KO’d Sidekicks in my wall was manageable. I don’t think the idea of knocking out his Psylockes with the Dark Phoenix global occurred to him until late in the game, which worked to my advantage.
The first die I purchased was a Moira, which I wound up regretting. As the game went on, I found I was looking for every bolt I could find as far as energy was concerned. In retrospect, I think buying a mask die early meant I ended up buying my Dark Phoenix die at least one turn later in the game (and probably two) than I would have if I’d bought a mask die like Storm.
Eventually I managed to get a Dark Phoenix in the field, to go with a SP//dr. And draw and roll a Confront the Mighty. The small problem that he didn’t have any high A characters in his wall was corrected by using a spare shield and his Bizarro global to flip the stats on his Level 2 Collector (1A, 7D to 7A, 1D). Using Confront the Mighty led to 14 damage and both Collector and Dark Phoenix being KO’d.
Since I’d been using the Paul Heyman global to ping out one of his Sidekicks almost every turn for the previous 2 or 3 turns, my wall ended up being enough bigger than his that I was able to get the last six damage in the Attack Step.
This opponent was running a Front Line team. Mostly based around the 2-cost Beast which can only be blocked by 2 or more character dice and has a die limit of 5.
I got an unpleasant reminder of just how fast Front Line teams can be. In fact, I was demolished so quickly in the first game we started a second one to occupy while we waited for the other players to finish the round.
I’d realized too late that Grey Hunter was my only real chance in the first game. I’d bought one and Prepped it with the Supreme Intelligence global, only to have the game end with it there as my opponent delivered the coup de grace on his next turn.
In the second game I abandoned any pretense of this being a Dark Phoenix team. It was Grey Hunter, Paul Heyman and Mister Sinister globals, buy a Front Line die for myself. And also a Confront the Mighty or two, to thin out the army of Beast dice he had supplementing his Sidekick wall.
I was on the defensive for almost the entire game, but my opponent had a very hard time getting in the big lethal swing he was looking for. Until he resorted to buying and fielding his Sidekick stealing Nihiloor. Once he hit the field, it was game over.
Even so, this second game was probably the most entertaining game of the night.
Note to self: If you see ‘The Front Line’ in your opponent’s BACs, forget what your team was supposed to be and start playing it as a ‘Front Line’ team.
Uncommon Gladiator, which has Overcrush. Common Lilandra which has the same Prep global as the old OP Robin. Common D’Ken which allows the player to Prep a die from their Used Pile when he attacks.
I let a Level 3 Gladiator through for 7 damage on a fairly early turn. I didn’t want to chump block, take Overcrush damage and then do it again the next turn. That turned out to be the only damage my opponent would do.
I bought my Dark Phoenix die this game by using four bolts – three for her global, and the fourth and final as the one bolt needed to pay her cost of one.
I bought two Confront the Mighty die this game, but never actually used either with Dark Phoenix. He attacked with a Level 2 D’Ken (5 A) for his Prep ability, not realizing what my plan was. I blocked with Dark Phoenix, resulting in 10 damage. My Dark Phoenix die was KO’d in the process, and she came up energy on my subsequent turn.
So I used the Paul Heyman global and a couple of Confront the Mighty dice to whittle down his field. then got the last ten damage as combat damage.
This team is not as fast as The Front Line. Very Little Is, or so it seems.
Moira, being a shield character, is not really a good fit on this team. I hadn’t fully appreciated ahead of time how much leaning on the Sinister global reduces energy flexibility (a point ccm00007 makes in the summary of his Fashionably Late article. The one ability Moira is there for is kind of redundant with the Supreme Intelligence global on the team.
Technically, she has the ability to Prep more expensive dice than Supreme Intelligence, but if you’re not buying such dice until after she’s KO’d (which is usually the case) that ends up not mattering a whole lot.
I never bought Asuka, but she was only there as a counter to a contingency which didn’t arise.
Overall, I managed to use the Dark Phoenix ability to deal double digit damage twice on the night. In both cases, I won the game shortly after. So I’d say it worked pretty well.
Now this team isn’t Modern Legal, so it’s never going to be a Meta team.
If you use the Doctor Strange from the Avengers team box that lets you copy actions (possibly in conjunction with Rare Moon Knight, to borrow an idea from one of Jourdo’s earlier teams – see here) you maybe end up with something Modern Legal that’s close to what I have here. If you try that, post in the comments below and let us know how it worked.
Other than Moira, the team worked pretty well and was fun to play. I would consider revisiting in the future, possibly replacing Moira with either Intellect Devourer or a bolt specific energy fixer.
Let us know in the comments below, or on our Socials (@dmNorthTV), or join the conversation on our Discord.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Rolling!
– Son of L