Heroclix: Plan and Execute – Swarm Teams

Recently WizKids announced that changes were coming in Heroclix and one of the things we would see is more low-point, specialized pieces along side the general or “definitive” versions of characters. This was definitely true in World’s Finest and even more so in Uncanny X-Men. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at swarm teams.

What is it?

Swarm teams are built around multiple low point pieces. An average 300-point team usually has two or three figures on it. Swarm teams on the other hand can have far more, which you will notice below.

Some swarm teams are about spreading the load. The X-Men team below does not have any generic pieces. They are all low-cost X-Men and each one has a specialized skill that they bring. If you lose one of them, it will not destroy your team.

X-Men Swarm50        UXM001 Colossus
50        UXM002 Nightcrawler
50        UXM003 Storm
50        UXM006 Wolverine
50        UXM021 Cyclops
50        UXM043A Sunfire

Another type of swarm team capitalizes on the boss/henchmen relationship. The Hydra team below works that way. Baron Strucker and Hive are the heart of your team and do most of the heavy lifting. The Hydra Recruits are there as fodder and support the two main pieces. In fact, between Strucker’s “Ruthlessly Pursuing Hydra’s Goals” trait and the Recruits’ “Cut Off One Head” trait, it is actually to your advantage to lose some of those fodder troops.

Hydra Swarm120      NFAOS060 Baron Strucker
80        NFAOS028 Hive
20        NFAOS014A Hydra Recruit
20        NFAOS014A Hydra Recruit
20        NFAOS014A Hydra Recruit
20        NFAOS014A Hydra Recruit
20       NFAOS014A Hydra Recruit

What Makes a Good Swarm Team?

So you want to build a swarm? Here are some powers and abilities that you want to gather up.

  1. Carry – Because you are mobilizing more figures than your opponent, it is important to maximize your actions. The more figures you can move per turn the better, so Carry is a high priority.
  2. Sidestep – Sidestep is great for the same reasons as Carry. Sidestep lets you move two squares as a free action. It might not sound like much, but it can be game changing. If your swarm pieces have Sidestep (like the Hydra Recruits) it helps you mobilize them without burning actions.
  3. Leadership – Most people emphasize that Leadership lets higher point characters remove action tokens from adjacent lower point characters. But a successful Leadership roll also adds an action to your action pool for that turn. Swarm teams will always have more characters than available actions, so getting some extras helps.
  4. Mastermind – This is more important if you are playing a boss/henchmen swarm team. Mastermind lets a figure transfer damage to an adjacent lower point figure. Since these kinds of swarm teams usually have core figures, Mastermind will help keep those bosses in the fight.
  5. Plasticity – Because you will have more pieces, you will have more fodder available for tying up an opponent. Generics with Plasticity are great. They are hard to get away from but not particularly valuable for the enemy to take out. Meanwhile, your attackers can get to work by targeting your opponents high value pieces.

What Hurts a Swarm Team?

Your opponent has some crowd control options you should consider too. Be on the look out for these.

  1. Energy Explosion – Swarm teams are often in tight groups and sometimes even get bonuses for it, such as a S.H.I.E.L.D. team. Energy Explosion is a nightmare, as it gives ranged actions splash damage.
  2. Pulse Wave – Here we are less concerned about the notorious single-target Pulse Wave. Pulse Wave targets every figure within half of a character’s range and ignores all their powers and abilities. On a successful hit, Pulse Wave does one damage to all hit characters. If an enemy gets off a couple Pulse Waves in the middle of your swarm, it can seriously wear you down.
  3. Improved Targeting: Ignores Characters – One of the beauties of a swarm team is that it provides meat shields. You can hide wounded or valuable pieces behind more durable or expendable ones. Characters that ignore other characters when drawing lines of fire can press the attack and get around your protection.
  4. Precision Strike – This one really only matters if you build a boss/henchman type team. Damage dealt by Precision Strike cannot be transferred, so that means you cannot use Mastermind to make your henchmen take a bullet for you.

I think swarm teams are a blast to play! How many times have you seen the Avengers face off against a Hydra strike team? Or Batman and Robin work their way through a slew of thugs to get to the Joker? Swarm teams bring those kinds of moments to the table in a fun and exciting way.

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