TURN ZER0 Character Breakdown: Cyclops
Hello, and welcome to another TURN ZER0 article! This week we finally see the release of the X-Men and Brotherhood models into the wild. That means we can finally play with some of the coolest models and affiliations in the game.
In our last article, we took a look at Storm and her leadership for the X-Men Gold. Cyclops brings a second affiliation for X-Men Blue, and we are going to digest his character card and how Scott will impact the X-Men roster-building experience.
Scott Summers is probably one of the most divisive characters in the X-Men franchise. Depending on who you talk to, people either love him or hate him (Todd). Regardless, I think Atomic Mass Games did a fantastic job of capturing the 90's feel and nostalgia from the source material (comics, TV show, arcade game). Let's take a look at his character card and see how it stands up to the "X-Men" meta we are about to experience at the end of 2020.
- Right off the bat, AMG gave us one of the most iconic names for an attack. Cyclops probably shouts this phrase more than anything else in the TV show and Marvel VS Capcom fighting game. Nostalgia goggles off, Optic Blast is the bread and butter of Cyclops kit.
- 4/5/0 is a pretty sweet spot for an Energy attack. The five dice attack plus a Wild push is a staple for dealing damage and controlling the positioning of enemy models.
- On a Wild, Scott can push a Size 2 or smaller character away Short. Control features baked into attacks are always a bonus for a character.
- Range four is a phenomenal distance for this attack. Cyclops can easily use Optic Blast on tight objectives like Gamma Waves or Meteors to stand in the middle of the battlefield and blast people within range.
- Optic Blast is a powerful weapon against enemies weak to Energy attacks (aka rolling two defense dice). Here are some of the best targets for Cyclops to pick off: Beast, Venom, Crossbones, and Groot.
- Optic Blast is also Cyclops' builder attack. That means this is his best way to build power outside of the +1 per round and taking damage. Pilots will want to use this attack as often as possible to gain power, deal damage, and push targets off objectives.
- B5/7/4 is one of the most insane beam attacks we have seen in the game so far. Four power is a lot to ask of a spender attack. But the return can be incredibly devastating for the enemy team.
- Beam five alone is nuts. Being able to hit multiple targets at the maximum distance makes Cyclops a threat. Going back to Optic Blast, Cyclops loves being on maps where models are forced into tight spaces. Gamma Waves and Meteors keep the fight on a straight line, and Optic Devastation thrives on bunched up models.
- Seven dice per model hit by Scott's beam is incredible. Using Optic Devastation in rounds 3-4 can quickly daze or KO weakened models. If you lead with this attack and follow up with Optic Blast, Cyclops will very likely be able to hurt someone if he didn't already take them off the board.
- Four power is the real issue with Scott's spender. Although four power is not unfair, Scott has many other tools in his bag that he wants to pay for throughout six rounds. Depending on the map Cyclops is playing, you might never have the opportunity or desire to pay for his Optic Devastation.
- The Uncanny X-Men release comes with two different leaders with two different affiliation bonuses. X-Men Blue allows models to soak power from allies within Range three of the attacker to reduce the cost of spender attacks.
- For example, Cyclops wants to use his Optic Devastation which costs four power. He can use power from allies within Range three to reduce the cost of his attack, one power per ally, to a minimum of one power Cyclops has to pay for his attack.
- Is this a cool ability? Oh yes! Is it meta? Well, that is a difficult question. In casual games, I have tried to use this ability, and it has practical usage, but it is not very impactful. To clarify that statement, the X-Men are very power-hungry. Being able to divert power from models to pay costs for other models is neat. However, objective selection can significantly dilute the usefulness of this affiliation. Map D scenarios hurt since you are forced to have a model babysit the back point, and you need to split the team to fight over the left and right objectives. X-Men Blue thrives on close-quarters Death Star team compositions. If your opponent can force the X-Men Blue to split off, they aren't able to use this affiliation bonus effectively.
- In competitive testing, we have seen the same issue for X-Men Blue as mentioned above. X-Men are power-hungry assassins. They have some amazing superpowers and spender attacks. However, they need to ration their power for Tactics, interacting with objectives, paying for superpowers, paying for defensive tools, and paying for move+attack superpowers. In the heat of battle, on average, you might have one allied model nearby to help reduce the cost of a spender attack. But, that model usually needs its power to pay for any one of those items previously mentioned.
- The second elephant in the room for competitive environments is comparing X-Men Blue to X-Men Gold. Competitively, Storm has the better affiliation ability of the two options available. Cyclops is on the back foot right out of the gate. His leadership bonus is situational. You might not want to even use his ability even though you can. And, map-wide cover PLUS a once per round teleport is insane compared to X-Men Blue.
- I think this leadership bonus is a lot of fun. If you're looking for the best competitive/meta leadership between Storm and Cyclops, Storm wins. That does not mean that Cyclops is unplayable as a leader. If you can force tight engagements on maps like Gamma Waves or the new Mutant Extremists Target U.S Senators! (14 points on map C), then Cyclops has a chance to shine.
- Chose another allied character within range four, spend three power to advance them Short. Field Leader is Scott's hidden gem superpower. Moving allied modes outside of their activation has shown itself to be one of the best superpowers in the game. Take a look at Red Skull moving MODOK for better positioning to take shots into the enemy lineup faster.
- Field Leader can be used multiple times in a round, but only one time for each character.
- Action economy is critical in Marvel Crisis Protocol. Each model gets a maximum of twelve actions in a game if that game goes to round six, and they are not KO'd. Superpowers like Field Leader help teams gain extra action economy to position themselves for better offensive or defensive options.
- Field Leader is another option to help models who are carrying objectives stay out of danger. Cyclops can also help push the Wakandan Herb carrier closer to scoring those four victory points.
- Unfortunately, this superpower is one of the biggest items contesting for power spending versus Optic Devastation. Three power for an advance out of activation or four power for a massive beam attack is a difficult choice. In a game where victory points are the key to winning, Field Leader usually edges out Optic Devastation when it comes to spending power. Now, this does depend on a lot of factors, but the average situation would denote the advance as a safer or better result versus attacking with Optic Devastation.
- Field Leader gives Cyclops a very flexible ability to be an impactful long-range assassin while supporting his teammates. Using Optic Blast to build power, move size two or smaller models out of position, and then Field Leader advance his allies into better positions. Cyclops can use Field Leader to set up big plays and help counter pushes from threats like Shuri.
- Learning when and where to use Field Leader has the opportunity to put significant pressure on the enemy. Although this superpower might be online, knowing the proper timing to use it will be the sign of a top-level X-Men pilot.
Hit And Run
- As an action, Cyclops immediately makes an attack action followed by a move action. Hit and Run is not a new superpower, but it is a great tool for Cyclops.
- Going back to the action economy discussion, spending two power for an attack and a move is a steal. Although you may not need or want to use this superpower each round, having the option to use it is always appreciated.
- Todd brought this up for Green Goblin and Bullseye. Hit and Run is a powerful tool for repositioning models. Charge forces you to move into range and attack enemies. Hit and Run allows long-range models to take a shot and move to a better location. Cyclops has the potential to Optic Blast and move an enemy off an objective. If he is successful, he can choose to move and secure/contest the objective. If he fails, he can reposition to a better location and then determine what his second action will be. Hit and Run opens up many different branches for Cyclops at the low cost of two power.
- As stated earlier, Optic Devastation has to fight for the right to party! Jokes aside, Hit and Run is another contender for Cyclops' limited power. Hit and Run is not a common superpower Scott will be using, but when he needs it, it takes priority over Devastation.
- Quick Draw is the ranged version of Martial Prowess. Spend two power, roll five defense dice, and deal two damage back if you suffer no damage.
- Cyclops already comes with a stout defensive lineup of 4/3/3. Adding in Quick Draw helps keep Scott on the table longer with the opportunity to return the favor if he blocks the attack.
- Another tool in Cyclop's bag that helps round out his kit. However, this is another tool that uses power, and we already discussed how power-hungry the X-Men are. Cyclops has a lot of great offensive, defensive, and mobility tools on his card. But he has to determine which ones to use and which ones to pass each round. Cyclops will always have the tools he needs to impact the battlefield. Deciding which tools are the right ones to solve the puzzle will be the primary challenge to push Cyclops to his limits.
To Me, My X-Men
Cyclops is a well rounded four threat model. I know Todd may hate him, but I see a lot of potential in Scott with this new X-Men release. I admit that Scott is not the best leader compared to Storm. But Scott sure can do a lot more damage than Storm can.
I think that is what makes the X-Men so unique. Each model is good at doing something. Storm is a strong leader and helps support her team with cover and mobility. Cyclops is stong at long-range attacks, repositioning himself and his teammates. Looking back at this breakdown, Cyclops has a lot going for him. He can put out good damage at a great range. He can push enemy models with a Wild, reposition himself for multiple Optic Blasts into the enemy back-line. He can advance teammates, and he has a strong defensive lineup. I highly recommend putting Cyclops on the table and running him three or four games. He requires some foresight and skill to get big results, but he can deliver!
As with all of our breakdowns, I want to address shortcomings for Cyclops. The most apparent is a lack of fixing or re-rolling his dice. Cyclops, like Wolverine, has to live and die by his rolls. If Cyclops' dice go cold, you're gonna have a bad time. The nice thing is Cyclops has five incoming dice with the chance to push. On average, Scott should do something during each attack, so feel bad moments are not commonplace.
His next biggest shortcoming is how power-hungry his kit is. Optic Devastation is four power, Field Leader three, Hit and Run two, Quick Draw two. Cyclops has the tools to get the job done, but he needs to decide how to pay the cost. Being power hungry creates a high skill ceiling for Cyclops players. Determining which path to take and how to spend power will test pilot skills and challenge players as they master Cyclops.
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