• All These Flavors: Xavier's School for the Gifted

    “Any dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.” - Charles Xavier

    Welcome back to All These Flavors, an article series where I explore fun, flavorful ways to experience some of my favorite tabletop games! I ended off last time with some team lists exploring the original line-up of both the X-Men, as well as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. I’d like to take a closer look at the card choices and give a little insight as to what I was thinking when I put these teams together.

    Xavier’s School for the Gifted (http://dm.retrobox.eu/?view&cards=4x...31avx;3x1avxop):
    4x Beast - Mutate #666
    4x Angel - Inspiring
    4x Iceman - Too Cool for Words
    3x Marvel Girl - Telekinetic
    2x Professor X - Recruiting Young Mutants
    2x Cyclops - If Looks Could Kill
    1x Cerebro - Cybernetic Intelligence
    Power Bolt

    First thing’s first, keen eyes might have noticed last time that each team list only contains 9 cards - this was intentional, and was mostly a product of a lack of additional flavorful options for each team considering the original line-up of each team. For those of you unfamiliar, the original 5 X-Men were Angel, Beast, Iceman, Marvel Girl (better known as Jean Grey), and Cyclops. These, plus Professor X, of course, left me with 2 open slots in the team. Cerebro made sense, as it made its debut during this era, but that was there the flavor ran out. I couldn’t add any other X-Men, because they weren’t part of the original team, and the only additional ( albiet, temporary) team member during this run, Mimic, doesn’t yet have a Dice Masters representation!

    Onto the specific card choices:

    The Flavor: This was the obvious choice for an X-Men based team; just about everyone knows Professor X at this point, and this is even a flavorful choice, as the sidekicks he grabs could represent his “new recruits” to his superhero team! The only other sub-title that may have been more flavorful was Founder, but Heroic is just such a useless mechanic that I decided against it.

    The Function: The function of Professor X is pure, simple, and clean - ramp. He allows us to make use of our energy like nothing else in the game, and also allows us to be able to play bigger and badder versions of our characters, hopefully leading to a mutant battle of epic proportions!

    The Flavor: None of the Beast cards were particularly flavorful over any others (though his Villain card was definitely not a fit for this team!), so I decided to go with the one with the most function. I suppose a flavor fit here would be Beast “bouncing around” the battlefield as he so often would, by repeatedly KO’ing and returning only to parry more attacks.

    The Function: A cheap mask character that provides not only Professor X-fuel on his energy sides, but also a great blocker on his character sides for any early attacks Magneto and his Brotherhood might bring! We like Beast blocking early and often, and at worst, we get to use his energy to recruit more young mutants!

    The Flavor: I decided against his AvX incarnations due to their lack of an X-Men affiliation, which narrowed my choice down to 3, and then quickly 2 after eliminating the Heroic-version. Both versions played well with sidekicks (one fielded a SK from used when fielded, the other pumped all sidekicks +1/+1 when he attacked), but because I felt that Professor X would keep my Sidekicks out of the used pile more often than not, I went with the attack pump one, which is a great representation of his subtitle, Inspiring.

    The Function: Angel is certainly not our main path to victory on this team, though he certainly is an option if you end up rolling a large number of Sidekicks. I would imagine that most games, he won’t be bought, but if Professor X ends up recruiting a large number of mutants to the Field, than Angel can be just the spark of inspiration they need.

    The Flavor: Again, I opted for the Iceman with the X-Men affiliation, which left out the ASM versions. Most of his UXM versions are lackluster, with one being strictly worse than another (Mister Friese >>> Cryokinetic). His other versions pump him one way or another, but only one offers additional utility - while also representing his personality and bravado - so that was my choice for this team.

    The Function: Most of Iceman’s versions pumped his stats in some way, but none came with a built-in way to assure the damage gets through. This meant that the global ability on Too Cool for Words was the tie-breaker, offering something additional to do when Iceman isn’t going to win you the game. For just one Bolt energy, he can turn any of your previously fielded sidekicks into energy for you to use on this turn, which can either get you out of a situation where you rolled more sidekicks than you wanted, or even help you “save up” energy for an expensive purchase when you can’t get enough Masks for Professor X to do the job. Being able to swing in for 8 on an empty field doesn’t hurt either, but without Overcrush, that’s not the most exciting part of the card.

    The Flavor: Another UXM choice, another Heroic version to quickly eliminate. This left me with a few reasonable options; her promo version, Humanity, which is a great defensive card, but a little more reactive than I’d like, not to mention having a subtitle that isn’t as flavorful as the rest. That left Telekinetic and Telepath, both of which involve spinning down opponent’s dice, but one of which does it every time she fields, and the other only sometimes. With both versions having the same amount of flavor (describing her various powers), I went with the card that always had an impact, rather than the one requiring her to not already be Level 3.

    The Function: This card has become a casual-staple of mine in my X-Men builds; I find a lot of casual games can turn into character walls on both sides when win conditions are few and far between, and cards like Marvel Girl can have an immediate impact and make the combat math a lot easier for both you and your opponent when you are spinning down 4, 5, or sometimes even more characters when she is fielded. She is also an easy attacker, since you don’t mind fielding her more than once - and Professor X will help keep your bag clear of riff-raff so you will see her more often if they just let her through!

    The Flavor: Flavor-wise, I had a myriad of options at my disposal here. Both his AvX and his UXM character suites all had flavorful subtitles, with various abilities that represented his optic blasts reasonably well. Because of this (and how the team was shaping up), I wanted to showcase just how powerful his optic blasts could be; so I went big. As big as he could get. (Ok, not Phoenix Force big, but that wouldn’t have made flavor-sense here anyways). So it was down to one of his 7-cost versions; I was either dealing damage straight to the opponent, or to my opponent’s entire field of characters. One of these things “feels” bigger than the other, so I went with If Looks Could Kill, and can’t wait to just obliterate entire fields of characters, paving the way for my team of mutant teenagers to finish the job.

    The Function: Marvel Girl can help deal with particular levels of characters, but Cyclops can just deal with the characters themselves. He is your win condition here, the big kahuna, the secret weapon. If he is Level 1 or 2, there might be some (wounded) survivors for your opponent to block with, but not much is going to survive his level 3. Save him for after you’ve established a board presence, and he will make attacking past a wall of characters much, much easier.

    The Flavor: Cerebro was an obvious choice here; it is (I believe) the only X-Men-themed non-Basic Action card that has been printed, and it has been around since the beginning, so a 60’s X-Men team had to have it! None of the subtitles stood out in particular for me, so I went with the one I thought would have the greatest impact on the game.

    The Function: The 3-cost is a Golden Age tech-choice against Elf Thief, and isn’t particularly useful in a casual game. The 4-cost gives me a bag-searching mechanic, which is something I’m not a fan of without a way to manipulate my bag (and they haven’t printed a Marvel version of Resurrection yet, so that was no good either). The 5-cost, on the other hand, is incredibly useful at taking care of problematic characters - and repeatedly! - whenever you field a character of your choice. So you can make a decision when you field Cerebro, based on how the game is shaking out, as to which of your characters has the best chance of coming back and back again. Beast is a good option in theory, since your opponent (presumably) has to attack to beat you; Marvel Girl is another good option as well - field, spin down everything, KO the thing that’s still a problem!

    The Flavor: I wanted to use Marvel-only BACs, and preferably some that either featured X-Men in the art, or in the theme of the card. Power Bolt does both, and allows Cyclops to (thematically) enter the battle in games where his 7-cost character die remains out of reach.

    The Function: Nothing particularly special or exciting here; its 2 damage to clear a blocker, or to finish up the last few life points on an opponent desperately clinging to life.

    The Flavor: The early X-Men comics were all about Teamwork; a group of young superheroes working together were always greater than the sum of their parts. Plus, its got Cyclops front and center on the art!

    The Function: This is a great way to win the game if you are able to stick more characters than your opponent can handle. Trying to stick one of each of your characters and end the game with a Teamwork attack is a very reasonable path to victory here. Angel will ensure any sidekicks you picked up along the way will get a small pump as well, and if you are able to get a Cyclops in there, you should be able to reach 20 unblocked damage pretty easily.

    Well, that’s all the time I’ve got for today. Next time, we will take a look at the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants build (seen below), before taking these two teams for a spin against each other!

    Until next time, may your mutant powers remain under your control!
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Ed-Bird's Avatar
      Ed-Bird -
      If you run with the newer First Class stories, Wanda is almost a member. Being Jean's best friend, she's always at the school and tends to help out inconspicuously (lest her father find out). With that said, I would cut two Iceman for 2x Scarlet Witch : Controls Probability.
    1. kmcgeejr's Avatar
      kmcgeejr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ed-Bird View Post
      If you run with the newer First Class stories, Wanda is almost a member. Being Jean's best friend, she's always at the school and tends to help out inconspicuously (lest her father find out). With that said, I would cut two Iceman for 2x Scarlet Witch : Controls Probability.
      I am a huge fan of that Scarlet Witch, and I do run her in my casual X-Men builds that aren't required to stick to such a strict theme. I think she's a great choice for any casual X-men squad.