Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Giant size X-men poster hits web

So this poster was recently released on the internet and is creating quite a drooling stir for the upcoming Heroclix set: Giant sized X-men. HCRealms sports page after page of excited dialogue in the forums and there's talk at the Wizkids facebook page too.

I was surprised to see such a spoiler released this early but I don't think it's going to hurt sales at all from the reactions. I'm pretty excited about this set too. There are certainly pieces coming out that have never been made before. Amongst these are Lockheed the dragon, Gatecrasher, and Ch'od. I do hope that keywords don't leave any of these newbies lacking for good team play.

Ch'od has a chance in golden age open formats if anyone has any of the older figures. Sadly, I find most of them unable to survive in current formats.

We've needed a new Magneto for a long time and having his original Brotherhood crew isn't shabby either. But where's Toad? Oh well, so long as this incarnation of Blob is better than the last, I can do without Toad thanks to having the rest.

I also don't see a few other key players for X-men or one for Hellfire Club. It's nice to have Siryn, but Banshee was a key player in the old X title this set is based on. Siryn is Banshee's daughter for those who don't know. And where's Shadowcat? I also realize that there are incarnations in recent sets, but what about Colossus? He was also a key figure in the Giant sized. It's also been mentioned that Strife will be a bit lonely without Cable to pick on. And how about Mr. Sinister? As for the missing man from Hellfire club, I'm talking about Sebastian Shaw. Yes, he's in an old set too, but he needs a revamp badly. There are plenty of figures who've seen way more remakes.

I will also be glad to have my hands on a new Juggernaut and Phoenix, I have to say.

Now, I note that we also don't see any of the giant pieces on this poster, like Apocalypse or the rumored new Sentinel. So what else are we not seeing? Makes you wonder doesn't it? Oh, and just click on the image to see it larger.

Monday, January 24, 2011

DC 75th, least favorite five

So, I've done my top ten favorites of DC 75th and now I'm going to show my top five choices for greatest disappointments of the set. This doesn't mean I think they're totally unplayable or gawd awful trash. Just that they were the least of the set for me and some of you may agree. I'm certain opinions may vary. So, without further ado, here they are from "best to worst".

5: The Wonder Twins: They are actually a cool collector's piece and I'm glad to see them get made. Still, it's unlikely that I'll ever play them. My first problem with them is keywords. They get just one keyword and that's "teen". Sure, that makes for plenty of teams they can play in, but how often were they actually teamed up with teens in the stories? Usually they were hanging out with the JLA as junior members. I think they should have had the keyword for JLA at least, if not the team ability. The second problem I have with them is the same issue I have with any dual figure. The duo attack ability is horribly watered down. For having two figures take a swing, it's a weak power. This may depend on the figures in some cases (and it should), but in this case it's a good example. The duo attack ability is a power action and cannot be used with most powers. It also weakens on the second attack with a nice minus one to damage. So, while there's plenty of cool powers for the twins to use, a dual figure is usually just as slow as a single figure and you won't see accurate team usage of those powers thanks to how dual attack works. That's why very few dual figures see gameplay. Two pieces are usually better than one every time.

4: Wonder Woman: I know, she's actually more useful than the twins, but still a disappointment to me for one major reason. Her defense power. I think she should have had defend as a trait. It would have had better strategic use and she wouldn't have the risk of getting knocked right past her invulnerability on the first hit she takes. Wonder Woman is a front line fighter, always has been. She needs her hardened defense first. If she lends anyone defense, it should be a secondary issue. On top of that, an 18 defense just isn't that hard to hit anymore, so you really can't count on it in opening combat. Another good power for her to have had for up close would have been combat reflexes. She is an Amazon warrior after all and one of the best. Sorry, but her defense just isn't character accurate. What are some other tactics that could be arranged for Wonder Woman? Well, for one, give her a power for that lasso that allows her to pull someone to her from about 6 range or so. That's what lassos have been used for with people you know. With Wonder Woman's strength that would be a cinch power. It could also be used for limited telekinesis to grab an object and whip it at someone.

3: Superman: Poor sad Superman. He looks like Lois turned him down for a date with Aquaman or the Flash. But really, he has good reason to look sad and worried because his chances of standing up to his main nemesis in this set is practically zilch. Who's that, you ask? Why Doomsday of course! I'm not the first person to mention this either, it's a pretty common opinion. While Superman's dial is "good", it's not Superman accurate at all. All he has on Doomsday is movement. He still has to hit a 19 defense with a 10 attack. Good luck, Supes, you'll need it. So what else is wrong with this figure? How about NO hypersonic speed? A Superman without hypersonic is like a Hershey bar without any chocolate in it. Just an empty wrapper. As for what he doesn't have, it's little use to have him using flurry or defend. His defense drops badly in that area and he has to stay up close and personal. At this point on his dial he's in desperate shape, for being Superman that is. As for defend, he does have a 17 defense for it, but again, not hard to hit at all. When you consider his points versus what size of a team he'll likely be in, Superman needs major back up and that's not accurate either. Just two hits from Doomsday is "bye bye" for Superman. Heck, most of the Green Lanterns are tougher than he is.

2: Aquaman: The one from the Brightest Day set is pretty cool. The one from the 75th... not so much. I gotta give props though, it's hard to make a good Aquaman. In this case, he should have had most of the powers from Supes' dial. Charge, super strength and flurry are all good ones for him. He should also start with invulnerability and go to toughness after that. He is, at least that strong. Past that, for all his tricks, his usefulness is limited. He needs to be in the water and against other Atlantis characters to be of the most use. Yes, he has the transporter ability, but let me tell you how much I value that. Not very much. First of all, a "transporter" (especially one that can fly) should not suffer the minus 2 penalty for carrying someone. It just doesn't sound right. Also, the minus two on attack with the move and attack ability isn't strategically sound when it drops your attack below a 9. I only use this ability out of desperation or to try and get in an early hit at a distance. Yes, it's a nice option, but just doesn't do much for me. A minus one for the attack value makes more sense than 2, honestly. Yes, it is cool that he can transport while he's grounded, but it's not enough for this piece in my opinion.

1: Ganthet: I know what you're thinking; "why are you bagging on Ganthet? He's awesome!" Sure he is. Except if he's in a 300 point match, he's alone. In a 400 point match he can have cheapo minions. A good 300 or 400 point team will annihilate him. In a bigger match, he gets better, but it takes a lot. And his Green Lantern team ability is virtually useless in those low point tournies that almost no one will play him in anyway. Now, he is powerful, I'll give him that. He can't be outwitted and has built in willpower, also very nice. But he's also slow. Putting him in range to do anything makes him and instant target. For his kind of power, an 18 defense is too easy to hit. It's another matter of accuracy in a way. For the kind of cosmic power we are talking about and to be worthy of a 299 point value, his stats need to be better. To me, he's worth 200 points and no more. Even with regen mid dial. One five click punch from Doomsday takes him right past that. So, too point heavy for the arrangement of his dial, his stats, and accuracy, puts Ganthet at number one for my least favorite, and least likely to use pieces of 75th.

Now I will give honorable mention to the one figure I've given the most credit in this posting, Doomsday. Why bag on Doomsday? For his six space opening movement, that's why. He can leap like the Hulk but only for six spaces? Well, I will give him this after playing him against Supes and Ganthet; he's still deadly. I guess the six space opener can be forgiven.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heroclix spotlight: The White Queen

I have to say that Giant Sized X-men is looking like a very promising set. I like the look of the new Cyclops and love that he has sharpshooter. It makes perfect sense to me with his powerful optic blasts and capability of using them in the face and up close. But, this isn't about Cyke, it's about Emma Frost aka, the White Queen.

First of all, she gets two team abilities. X-men and Brotherhood makes sense because she's been on both sides of the fence. I think the free movement of Brotherhood gets underestimated at times, but it can really help to get a piece into position for a future move. It allows her to play both sides and she has always done that well.

Her dial is interesting to me. Opening with running shot and psychic blast makes her a more mobile attacker than she has been in the past. While this works for her very well, I think her mind control has been cut down a little too much. It comes late in the dial. With the cost of mind control (a click of damage for each hundred points of the target), her use of the power could be a suicide gambit. That's not like her at all. I think having mind control as a trait would have been super and certainly fitting to the new formats. Cool traits have been a great strategic add to lots of pieces.

She's not a useless piece though, far from it. And if you prefer her in mind controlling zeal, there is a very good piece from Mutants and Monsters that you can use. So there is a nice option. It may come to depend on what pieces are legal to use in what tournaments, but that goes without saying. And, of course, I have to mention the loss of her invulnerability from her diamond form.

So I like her, I just feel she could be better with how the environment of the game has changed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why players quit games

If not for general information, then certainly for marketing, it's important to understand what makes players walk away from a game. There are several reasons that this happens and mostly it involves finances. The recent economy has been hard on players no doubt. It makes it so they have to be choosy about what they buy and play. Games that require keeping a collection can really suffer when prices go above ability or finances drop below. What are other reasons?

Well, trivially speaking, 1% of any business is lost because the customer dies. That's just trivia, but it's true to marketing so noteworthy.

About 15% of customers are lost because they move away. This holds true for gaming too. Moving to places where there are no players for some games can put a kabosh on that customers buying habits. It can shelf a game fast and for a long time.

I don't know a percentage off hand, but I have seen lots of gamers for both Hero Clix and Magic the Gathering, throw up their hands and walk away over rules changes. Too many rule changes, especially in a short time, can frustrate players. Key note, games are meant to be fun. Frustration is the opposite of fun.

Bad luck. Even if you don't believe in it, some people just aren't meant to play some games, especially in competition. When it comes to games of chance, I can tell you I'm not meant to be a gambler. I lose, it's as simple as that. So I don't gamble. I don't have good luck with Magic the Gathering either except in friendly, non-tournament play. It doesn't matter how well I put my deck together, if I enter a tournament, I lose. I can't tell you how many times I've lost horribly to have the master player across from me tell me to build a better deck. I hand him my cards. He looks through them and takes his harsh words back. Face it, it's no fun when you always lose. And there's no marketing in the world to save from that one.

None of these are avoidable by the market. They're going to happen. Players will come and players will go. Still, there are plenty of bad choices that could be avoided with some forethought. Here's to hoping you don't have to give up your favorite game this year.