ULTIMATE ENCOUNTER: Ultron – All Will Be Metal

Ultron has built a doomsday device and is trying to destroy everything and everyone. You must fight to stop him from activating the device, whilst also rescuing terrified civilians from his evil clutches. This is All Will Be Metal.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good, now that I have gotten my exclamation of joy and excitement out of the way I can use words.

Oh AMG, you crafty devils, teasing us with a 3 player raid mode when the Thanos set releases next year, then suddenly revealing an Ultron raid mode just in time for the holidays! I think it is safe to say that noone expected this to be the announcement on the live stream this week, and I think it is also fair to say that most people were waaaaaaay excited for this free release upon hearing the news.

Yes, that’s right – FREE! Free content directly from the game developers which can be downloaded from the AMG website (here) and printed off for use straight away. Stuff like this just makes me happy. Just when we thought the game couldn’t get any more fun and that we wouldn’t have enough money left for more expansions after buying everything that has released so far.

But what’s the deal with the ultimate encounters? And what is this new Ultron-themed one all about? Let’s see, but first – amazing artwork time!

THE BASICS

A souped-up Ultron is up to mischief. He has built a doomsday device which he is trying to activate. The crisis teams job is to stop Ultron by KO’ing him 5 times to corrupt his firmware beyond repair thereby forcing him to retreat, whilst also stopping him from activating all 4 of the doomsday device consoles, and also rescuing the terrified civilians who will appear on the battlefield. One player takes control of Ultron, whilst 2 players take a squad each and work together to accomplish their mission.

There are 4 difficulty levels to the mission which is great, and the levels dictate how many team tactics cards the crisis players can take into battle, and how many dice Ultron rolls for the doomsday device (more on that later), meaning that the game can be scaled to match the experience of the players involved.

Scattered around the battlefield are 4 consoles which Ultron will be trying to have activated. As well as that there is a home base in the centre of the board wherein the crisis team players must drop off their rescued civilians so that they can be ferried away to safety.

There are a few ways the game can end – if the crisis team or Ultron player ever has 12 or more victory points, if the Ultron player ever controls all four of the doomsday device controls, or if Ultron’s firmware is corrupted beyond repair.

But how does this new form of playing work? Let’s take a closer look and see.

GAMEPLAY

Fielding Squads

After building the battlefield the crisis players deploy their squads within range 3 of the battlefield edge as normal. Although there are two squads being fielded, there must be no duplication of alter-ego’s between the two teams. Each team can use an affiliation, but each affiliation only affects characters within their team. However, team tactics cards can be used across the teams. For this encounter the maximum threat level for each squad is 15. These two squads together are collectively referred to as the “Crisis Team”, and when playing the game the Crisis Team players will be working together to fulfil their objectives.

Once the Crisis Team players have fielded their squads, the Ultron or “Cosmic Threat” player fields Ultron, again within range 3 of their battlefield edge. This player also gets the souped-up Ultron character card, but we will discuss that a little more later.

Round Structure

The round structure for an ultimate encounter is slight different than usual. First, we start off with the power phase as normal. Then power phase player effects occur starting with the player with priority (in this case always the Crisis Team players). Then power phase encounter or status card effects are resolved (more on those later). Once all of this is done players can move on to the activation phase.

During the activation phase the Crisis Team may activate 3 characters consecutively, adding activation tokens as usual once complete. After the third character has activated, the player controlling Ultron, Master of Metal may then activate. Instead of adding an activated token to Ultron, this is instead added to the encounter tracker. This 3-then-1 type activation continues until the encounter tracker has 3 activation tokens on it. Once the encounter tracker has 3 tokens on it the activation phase ends and the cleanup phase begins.

Note that if a Crisis Team squad with a large body count has been fielded then not all characters will get to activate during the 3 activation “windows.” It is also worth noting that a round does not work as normal within the ultimate encounter ruleset, instead a round lasts until the end of the next turn by the Cosmic Threat/Ultron player.

The encounter tracker.

Once in the cleanup phase proceed as normal, scoring victory points (we will discuss this a bit more in depth shortly), resolving cleanup phase effects, flipping dazed characters to their injured side etc. Additionally, any Crisis Team character without an activated token now gets to make a short move for free, yay!

Civilians & Interactive Terrain

As was mentioned earlier the battlefield is going to be littered with terrified civilians that will need rescuing. When a Crisis Team character is within range 1 of an interactive terrain feature he/she can spend 1 power to interact with it. The player controlling that character rolls dice equal to the size of the terrain feature. If one or more criticals or wilds are rolled then the character has found a terrified citizen token and picks it up, then places an evacuated token on to the battlefield (evacuated tokens are the Cap shield tokens included with the core set – they do serve a purpose after all!). If the character carrying a terrified citizen token can make it to the home base (the priority token located within the centre of the battlefield), then they can interact with it for free, removing the terrified citizen token from their character sheet and scoring 1 victory point. A character holding a terrified citizen objective can only take 1 move action per turn, so bear that in mind when planning your activation.

As is usual, if a character is dazed or KO’d then they will drop the objective tokens which they are carrying. If Ultron manages to interact with a terrified citizen token then he scores 1 victory point.

Doomsday Device & Consoles

There are four doomsday device consoles littered around the battlefield. As long as a console is not being contested by an enemy player that doomsday device console is controlled by the Crisis Team players (as as long once it is controlled by Ultron they interact with it as they would any objective). But hark, how can Ultron ever get to control all 4 consoles and win the game? Well, at the start of each of the Cosmic Threat players turns they will roll a number of dice as specified by the game difficulty level.

The different difficulty levels of the encounter.

Based upon the results of the dice a number of effects occur as shown below:

Doomsday device effects.

Each effect only happens once for each dice symbol rolled. Woe betide the Crisis Team players if the Cosmic Threat player rolls 1 of every symbol! Ultron here has the opportunity to gain more power, control more doomsday device consoles, remove terrified citizen tokens and score points for each removed, cause Crisis Team characters to drop all objective tokens, destroy terrain and place terrified citizen tokens, and cause direct damage to Crisis Team characters. Great for Ultron, bad for the Crisis Team!

Attacks

Not much changes when it comes to attacking, however there is an important rule to note. It is not a case that once Ultron is dazed/KO’d then he is out, as it would be for a standard game. Rather, if Ultron would become dazed he instead gains a corrupted firmware token (dazed token). This has to happen to him 5 times for him to be finally beaten.

The number of corrupted firmware tokens which Ultron has on him has an affect on his abilities throughout the game. Speaking of which, the Cosmic Threat player won’t be using the usual Ultron character card. So what does he/she get instead?

Ultron, Master of Metal

For the cosmic threat player there is a special treat – a shiny new Ultron character sheet Here it is in all its glory:

The man himself – Ultron, Master of Metal! If someone could Photoshop a guitar into his hands that would be great…

Ultron, Master of Metal has 8 stamina (sheesh), medium movement, a size of 3 and a threat of a whopping 30. 5 physical defence (wow), 4 energy defence (still great) and 5 mystic defence, so good luck hitting him with anything at any time ever. On top of that he is also immune to pretty much ever condition ever – bleed, poison, stagger and stun. Oh, and he gets to fly too. Is it even possible to do anything to this guy?!

He also has 3 attacks. Metallic Talons is a physical range 2, 6 strength attack with zero power cost. Yes, you read that right, a free 6 strength attack. As per a standard strike Ultron will get to gain power equal to the damage dealt by this attack. Roll a wild and you will get to bleed and pierce (manipulate the defending characters defence dice) the target character. All for free. Damn.

Next, for the measly sum of 2 power Ultron will get to fire off Energy Blast which has a range of 4 and a strength of 7. This attack will gain Ultron 1 power now matter how much damage (if any) is done. A caveat to this attack is that for each corrupted firmware token on Ultron (i.e. how many times you have effectively dazed him throughout the game), he will roll 1 less dice for this attack. Still, he is going to be rolling a lot of dice for quite a while, and range 4 is no joke!

Ultron’s last attack is called The Rage of Ultron and, as the name suggest, is absolutely nothing to worry about being on the receiving end of… This is an area attack of range 1 (it affects all characters within a range 1 radius), costs a mighty 6 power and has a strength of 9! If this attack deals damage (more than likely given how many dice are being rolled) then the target character is pushed short. There is a corrupted firmware caveat to this attack too, but unlike Energy Blast which gets weaker the more corrupted Ultron gets, this attack gets stronger. If Ultron has 3 or more corrupted firmware tokens then the range of this attack is increased from 1 to 2. No thanks!

As if all these incredible attacks weren’t enough Ultron also has 4 superpowers. First we have the active superpower called Matter Transference. This costs 2 power and allows Ultron to place himself within range 2 of his current position. Fair enough as Ultron will be wanting to bob about collecting up terrified citizens and scoring VP’s.

Next we have the reactive superpower Enough!!! This costs 2 power as well, unless Ultron has some corrupted firmware tokens on him, in which case this superpower costs +1 for each 1 corrupted firmware token which Ultron has. The superpower states that after an attack which damage Ultron is resolved Ultron may throw the attacking character short. This may not seem like much, but throws can be used for damage and for getting rid of threatening terrain, not to mention just getting a character out of the way. I suspect that this superpower s going to be much more useful in actual gameplay than it seems on paper.

Next is another reactive superpower name The Folly of Man. This also costs 2 power, and rather amazingly it allows Ultron to add blanks in his attack rolls to his successes. Just when you think you have dodged a big attack from Ultron! What a superpower!

Last of all we have the innate superpower We Are Ultron! This superpower states that when Ultron would gain a dazed token (corrupted firmware token), if he has 4 or less corrupted firmware tokens he instead removes all conditions and damage from his character sheet and gains a corrupted firmware token. He then gets to be placed within range 3 of his current location of within range 1 of a doomsday console that is controlled by the Cosmic Threat player. That placement is going to be critical in gameplay. Hitting Ultron at the wrong time could give him the additional movement which he needs to be able to activate another console that would have been previously out of his reach!

SUMMARY

This ultimate encounter may seem a bit “rulesy” and the rulebook itself is a bit jumpy with the rules, having things that would make sense to be together spread out a bit. However, if you take a little time before a game to wrap your head around the rules I think the gameplay is going to be fairly straightforward (if you are already familiar with the core rules) and, most of all, really really really fun. Everything you really need to know once you have figured out the changes to activations etc is nicely provided on the tip card/special rules sheet, so it can be referred to throughout the game.

The fact that AMG have given us this whole new way of playing the game for free is fantastic. I don’t have a gaming group, and my nearest store is well over an hour and a half drive away. Most of my games are played by me and my wife, or me and 2 nearby friends, so a 3 player option for the game so early on is fantastic.

Ultron looks to be an absolute monster to both play with and play against. Fielding a superhero team of around 9 bodies or so in order to take down 1 villain is going to feel so great and will make for some great interactions and cinematic moments. I also really like the multiple ways of scoring points and winning the game, it is going to really feel like a huge mission. I am really looking forward to getting this onto the table and seeing how it all plays out.

What do you think of our first ultimate encounter? Have you tried it, and how did it go? Leave a comment below.

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