Last week I played in my first ever ROC in Hanford, CA at DJ’s Collectibles with none other than Aaron himself judging. I thought I would go through the day, what I played, and what my results were.
In case you hadn’t seen my team that I posted on the morning of Saturday, August 5th, I played the following:
- Jakeem Thunder + Supreme Intelligence
- Goblin King
- FF Jean Grey
- Level 7 ID
- Nightwing ID
- Spider-Man ID
- Sideline: Nick Fury, NFAoS Hulk, ADW Hawkeye, Superior Spider-Man, Cosmic Spider-Man, LE Nightwing
- Maps: Nick Fury’s Safehouse, Manhattan Bridge, Friendly Neighborhood
Of course I spaced on my build at the last minute before packing up and made the mistake of using my last 5 points on a fourth ID card even though that was an illegal play as I only had 3 characters on my force, so I ended up 5 points under built and throughout the event, I wished I had brought my boxing ring.
Anyway, after a short flight on Friday morning and a rather boring day in our hotel, we made our way to the venue the following morning. We started pretty much on the nose at 10AM which was great. Pairings were posted and we made our way to our designated table.
Round 1 – A Rocky Start
I was pretty bummed to find out that my first match of the biggest event I had ever taken part in was against none other than my fellow Apex Insider Patrick Yapjoco. Now, I certainly don’t feel like I’m a bad player, but I also don’t feel like I’m the best either, and pairing against a multiple world-champ is kind of like getting ready for a huge day and someone dumping a couple ice cubes into the back of your shorts. My feeling was that Pat wasn’t unbeatable per-say, but I knew it would be the hardest match to pull a win from, so I took the experience as something to learn from regardless of what happened.
Patrick played a JSA team with Jakeem Thunder with Eclipso and Supreme Intelligence, two Joker’s Wild Green Lanterns, Common Atom, the Boxing Ring, and a slew of ID’s (which he only used Nick against me). Of course he won map roll and put us on the ROC Donut Shop map. Sidenote: this is a great map.
The match went about as well as I figured it would; Pat turtled up in the ring and walled off any chances I had at striking while I scrambled to get some hits. My dice were pretty weak this game and after trying a few things, he called in Nick and blew up my Jean, pretty much destroying my mobility. I had a chance at taking Nick down, but a double Prob from Pat gave me a crit miss, which ended up causing his Ultra Heavy strike later in the game to be the exact amount of damage to KO me. Thankfully I did manage to KO a Green Lantern to earn some points, so that was a win in my book!
As I mentioned before, I kept a smile on my face and I’m most proud of the fact that when push comes to shove, I no longer lose my temper like I used to in my Magic days. I looked at Pat and told him that I was honored to play him finally and that it was a very big learning experience for me. Pat was his typical gracious self and told me that I made some very good plays and that I’m a strong player, and there was no reason I shouldn’t make the cut. As most of you know, Pat went on to win the whole event with an 8-0 record.
Round 2- This Is More Like It!
Pairings came up and I figured I could probably catch a break as the other bigger players probably won their matches. I matched up against one of the friendliest people ever, a gentleman named Craig (I’m sorry Craig, I can’t remember your last name!). He had a point denial anti-attack team consisting of Joker’s Wild Penguin, Bizarro Green Arrow, Peace Machine, Anaconda, Nighthawk Prime, a Boxing Ring, and a JLA Teleporter with 5 cards, with all of his call-ins 150 points or more. He won map roll and put us on the Sporting Arena map.
I did a quick analysis of his team as I usually do and determined what the weak points were; his team was based on throwing Penguins in your face, forcing you to KO them and spin the resource so he could call in big pieces. The weakness was that Penguin was his only piece that could really do anything to harm me, so I knew he was my primary target.
After some early sidestepping and him setting up in the ring and calling out a Pulse Wave Pengu, I TK’d Jakeem out and called in Superior Spider-Man as he could ignore Anaconda’s Plasticity from 2 squares out. I missed my first attack of Flurry three times, but managed to hit my second attack, knocking Penguin to his last click. We did some more dancing and I TK’d Jakeem again next to Anaconda and called in Nightwing to finish the job. After a few more rounds, I mopped up the rest of his force and only gave 10 points from the two ID card summons. As for the Penguins, they weren’t anything a combo of Outwit + Poison couldn’t handle, which was the key to winning as it didn’t turn his resource.
On the final hit to KO his entire force, his resource hit click 23. We shook hands and we both had smiles on our faces as the round was actually pretty fun. Not once did Craig complain or appear salty. When I made the mistake of picking Ranged Combat Expert while Nighthawk was still on the board, he was more than willing to let me swap as he didn’t want me to feel sour that I made a dumb decision. The game needs people like Craig as everyone tends to walk away with a positive feeling on the match.
Round 3 – Where AJ Paints Himself into a Loss
I felt good about winning the last round with full points, so I had some adrenaline and was ready for my next pairing. I went up against the amazingly cool Alfred of the T3 podcast. He played a pretty nasty alpha strike team with Nick Fury with Brainiac, Samantha Cap with Eclipso, Overdrive, H.E.N.R.Y., and a few ID cards (I think). I actually won map roll (I never do) and took us to Nicks Safehouse to hinder his range on Fury.
I immediately made an error in taking free actions on turn 1, giving up my first round immunity, and Alfred counted out probably 6 different ways to come and get me, but it would have required him to make a hail mary and potentially leave himself open on the first turn of the game. He decided to do the same and passed. I found myself in the same situation of potentially taking a huge gamble which could have blown up in my face if things didn’t go well with a Cosmic Spider call-in, and instead moved into one of the small ‘holding cells’ inside the hideout. This was where I made my terrible decision and beat myself. My friend was playing a similar alpha strike team with Doc Oc over Nick and we had play tested probably a dozen times. Barrier was always my answer on this map with so many walls, and for some reason I didn’t use this. Alfred made me pay for this as he swarmed me and blocked my way out, nuking Goblin King on the next turn. I tried for a Pulse Wave on Jakeem to hit everything for 1, taking Nick off Watcher’s Eyes, Sam Cap’s dip in stats, KO’ing Henry, and tossing Overdrive out of his car, potentially hitting him for 2 unavoidable. I missed. At that point, Alfred called in a Nick with his other Nick and blew up my Jakeem, sweeping the game.
I was bummed, but only at myself because my own misplay cost me the game. Alfred was really great in that he was always rooting for me on the rolls. Breakaway? “Come on AJ, you got this!” (fails roll). Pulse Wave? “This is what you need, you GOT THIS!” (Miss. Prob. Miss.). Although the match was very short and I totally beat myself, I didn’t feel terrible about it and still kept a smile on my face.
Round 4: Mirror Match Mass Murder
I was paired with a gentleman named Gill who was running almost the same team as me; Jakeem (but with Eclipso), and Goblin King, but instead of going with Jean and ID cards, he had Bizarro Joker and The Atom as a retaliator. I actually won map roll for a second time in a row (!!!) and took us to the Manhattan Bridge as I knew my Nick would have a field day here.
We started off and I picked powers on my two guys, Sidestepped up, and passed. He proceeded to do the same. I decided to move up slightly one more time so that I could get the drop next turn, and he took a big chance at TK’ing his Jakeem out and went for a big shot on my Goblin King with a single-target Pulse Wave, and missed. I felt pretty bad as that was already the beginning of the end. I’m pretty sure I took Running Shot and Pulse Wave on both my Jakeem and Goblin King and nailed his Jakeem twice, taking him out of the fight, and then used Jean to position my pieces as far away from each other so he could only hit one person with The Atom. Sure enough, he brought him over to Jakeem, and missed his attack. I KO’d his Atom and then set myself up to call in Nick the next turn, which happened and I blew up his Goblin King in a single shot. After a couple turns of positioning and clearing, I nuked Joker down to his STOP click and then took Flurry on Gobby to take him down with a full win, only giving 5 points.
I felt bad for Gill as he said he had missed every attack roll he had made for the day. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to have your dice work that hard against you. It just goes to show that at the end of the day, you can have a solid team and strong tactics, but if your dice aren’t in it, there really isn’t much you can do.
Round 5: The Deal Breaker
I knew going into the final round of Swiss that I had to win, and I had to sweep in order to make the cut to Top 16. I was paired with one of Patrick’s friends named Chris, whose team Pat had talked about after our game and how hard it was to deconstruct. Chris played my favorite team of the day as he looked at what the meta currently is and said “nah, I’m not about any of that.”
Chris played a Justice League Themed Team with Shifting Focus Batman, Shifting Focus Superman, and two of the Uncommon Elseworld’s Green Lanterns, one of which had Brainiac. This team was glorious as every part of it had teeth and didn’t rely on just one or two pieces to carry his wins. He won map roll and put us on a Grid Reality map which I think was called The Sewers (it’s very much like the Prison 42 map).
Chris moved his pieces up behind a large wall on his first turn, and after some counting, I found that I had a clean shot with Fury with some TK yo-yo’ing. I threw Jakeem out and called in Nick, picking up Enhancement and Perplex and had the intention of shooting his possessed Green Lantern. Then I did the math. With 18 ES/D and Impervious and the fact that GL wasn’t his highest point character, Nick would practically be useless. Instead, I gunned for Superman because I know he falls pretty quick, and the +1 defense to his team combined with Batman’s awesome Perplex was going to be a problem. I nailed him down pretty far and TK’d Jakeem back, removing Nick from the board. He did some repositioning and I did some run & gun maneuvers to take small shots. Once he was finally in close and hit Jean to her last click, I used the walls to my advantage took Batman and his non-possessed GL to their last clicks. I called in Nightwing and popped Zucco next to Jean, perplexed up his attack and went in, nailing those same two pieces into KO, and then healing Jean back to full health. Needless to say, I took out his last Green Lantern as well with no casualties and only two ID cards burned.
I won’t lie; I kind of wanted Chris to win. He took a chance and played something new and fresh rather than the route I went of using the two most powerful pieces in modern. At the end of the game, I was sure to tell Chris that he had my favorite team of the day and congratulated him on how nice it was. Thankfully he had a backup team for the co-main event, so he wasn’t completely done for the day.
We took a break for lunch and Aaron posted the standings for the cut to top 16. I was 9th and my friend was 15th! We had both made it. I sighed in relief and proceeded to scarf my lunch, telling myself not to stress as the next matches weren’t anything different than I already played.
Round 6: ROC Dice are EVIL
I paired up against a well-known player named Diego, and amazingly he didn’t have a Jakeem, a Goblin King, or a Boxing Ring on his force. No, Diego went for a much different build. He had Nick Fury, Zatarra, Jean Grey, and H.E.N.R.Y. for a Past theme team, along with three ID cards of Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. His sideline was Cosmic Spider-Man, Boxing Superman, and Leatherwing! Freaking Leatherwing! I was pretty stoked to see that. He won map roll (obviously) and took us to Wakanda.
After some dancing around on the first turn with Sidestep and some free TK for his Nick, I actually had the first shot and called in my Nick to try and blast his, sitting on a 20 defense thanks to Zatarra. I said that I was thinking of getting rid of his Shape Change, but I never actually committed by saying “I’ll Watcher’s Eye’s your Shape Change on Nick”, and as I called the attack, I expressed aloud that I foolishly didn’t make the call and Diego had already rolled a 5 on his Shape Change. From that moment forward, the game took a brutal turn for me, as every attempt I made ended up with crap dice rolls. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t break away, I couldn’t land attacks; nothing. The final point in the match came when I called in Nightwing dropping Zucco next to my last-click Jakeem, double Perplexed Nightwing’s attack up to attack his Nick, and then Charged in, which he made the Shape Change roll again. Afterwards, I attempted for Support and critically missed, KO’ing my own Jakeem, giving Diego the game.
I was pretty bummed out by this. Unlike the other games of the day, the dice just completely betrayed me and left me to rot. One foolish mistake on my part cost me the game, much like my match with Alfred, only this time it was elimination and took me out of the event. I was too much in a hurry and giddy that I actually had a shot to take down his only real threat and jumped the gun. Let that be a lesson to you if you’re looking to play in these high-level events: take your time and analyze everything before you make a move that only has one chance of success. I want to stress that in no way am I upset at Diego just in case anyone might read into that. Diego did nothing wrong and at this level of play, you’ll take any breaks you can get. It was my mistake by not calling the play before making the attack.
Final Standings: 9th
I told myself before the trip that I would be stoked if I made top 8, or more specifically if I made the cut. After the huge numbers that we got (40 players!), the cut became top 16, so I readjusted what I wanted and overall I’m happy that I still made my goal. Winning would have been great, but I don’t think I’m quite there yet. There are still things that I have to learn, and frankly, unless you’re one of the top players in the world, I think everyone has something to learn from Heroclix. It’s how we get better. This kind of game is incredibly complicated when you get to this level, and virtually no one has it down to a science (okay, maybe Pat does).
Overall I’m still pleased with my results from the event. I do wish I made top 8 though so I could have earned a sweet ROC map, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. I met some great new friends and good portion of those I’ve only reached out to online. Aaron and I finally got to meet in person! It was a fun time and I’m highly looking forward to my next big event, albeit something closer as I don’t think I can financially support traveling for events.
What did you think of this, or any ROC States event? Did you play? How did you do? We would love hear how our readers did and what you liked/didn’t like about your venues. Additionally, we would love to hear about the most unique team you encountered during your games!
Things have been pretty busy for me as of late and this Summer has been an absolute Blitzkrieg for me, so there’s a decent chance I’ll be taking next week off as I head into my birthday weekend and take some time to just relax and depressurize. However, I will be on the show this weekend, so think of that as your ‘early Thursday’ content, haha!
Take care everyone and remember, the real fun begins when you’re Two Clicks From KO!