Saturday, July 30, 2011

New scale of power in Superman set

I've been checking out the spoilers for the new upcoming Superman (slated to come out in September) set with awe. There's a new game mechanic that's going to shake up the game in a major way.

As a prime example we look at Superman and Black Adam. This mechanic involves a choice of starting zones on the dial, a first for standard sized dials. Each starting click has a point value to incorporate into your team. Based on the point level you choose, that's where you start on the dial and play through to KO (if he gets KO'd, that is).

I think this is amazing. This gives some major playability to pieces that wouldn't often hit the table. Talk about options! Another thing this kind of brings back to me, is the old days of rookies, experts, and veterans. Just look at those lines on Black Adam's dial below! Just click on a pic to see it bigger.

Now for a little review. First, Superman; a one man army in a 300 point game is always a risk. I don't care what you put on that dial. The kicker is, I think Superman could actually pull it off! For the first time in a long time, I think we're getting a Superman worthy of his name! Just look at what he can do. His dial is loaded with hypersonic speed, charge, and running shot. They way it's arranged means you don't know what he's going to do if and when you do hit him. This can make him hard to track for the guy playing him too, so get to know Supe's dial. He starts out awesome. 11 movement with hypersonic? Check! High attack value of 12? Check! Impervious defense of 18? You know it! Deals five damage with outwit? HUH? Yeah, Superman starts with outwit. I'll take it! This is based on the "All Star Superman". You know, the one who got over radiated and died from being too freaking powerful.

Then turn him to that second starting line to play him for half his points and build a good team around him. He's still worth half the 300 point team, but very playable with a new keyword, Scientist. Now let's just wait and see how accessible he's going to be.

Black Adam! Oh boy. You can play him at three levels; point costs of 300, 200 or 100. Even his lowest level of play isn't particularly weak. This figure is a monster and well worth the ranking of a super rare. Sadly, I haven't been able to land my hands on a Black Adam (solo, as I have the duo of Shazam/Black Adam) since he first came out. I have the veteran of that figure. Ever since then, I've coveted a new Black Adam. Now this one moves up on the want list past the previous one. I'm afraid his secondary market value is going to be ridiculous however.

Let's take a look at those white powers. His movement power allows him to charge a full ten spaces so long as he has no tokens on him. He also can't carry an object or person with him. This is actually an excellent "killing move" power. Past that, he has a ton of charge. I think he actually has too much charge. Take a look at his third click in from the 300 point start. It's an 11 movement with charge. This is redundant since he can use charge with his white power. He really should have started out with Hypersonic speed or that third click should have been hypersonic. Still, his numbers are amazing.

There's an important point to these numbers on the first two start lines that make those number hurt. It's his defense power that allows him to drop 3 damage instead of 2 (if being hit for four or more). But that's not the clincher for this power. It also says his powers cannot be outwitted (except his outwit power). And with a 19 defense to clear, he's not an easy hit. This makes his movement power as an opener a little silly. Who, in their right mind, wants to take pushing damage off of a defense like that? Unless it's the winning move, I would never do it. He's lethal with that defense power so I would hold it as long as possible.

Now for his attack power of Regenerative Lightning. It only comes up twice in his dial (like his defense power) but it will seriously hurt. Since Black Adam is mainly a close up fighter, you can be sure that he's going to be mobbed. So this click pops up and he can regenerate while dealing a penetrating damage to everyone in two spaces of him. That's like having a short range pulse wave while healing! Basically, he shouts, "SHAZAM!" and POW! This combination could make Black Adam a decent one man army in a 300 point match.

Now the really cool thing about this piece is the sculpt. For the first time ever, you see a sculpt of the person who designed this piece, being held by the throat. That's a sculpt of the designer of this piece, George Massu, 2010 Heroclix World Champion. So, if you really don't like this piece, or maybe he beat you in the championship; you can look at this and say "Take that George Massu!" (just kidding, George! Congrats on the big win!).

So this set, so far, is looking like a powermonger's dream. I'm not so sure that's a good thing. I hope to see some more balance coming to it soon. Till then, keep clixing!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

By the Numbers: MODOK's 11

You can play all 11 of MODOK's team for 988 points, putting it in the thousand point bracket. It's a highly versatile team with four running shots, two chargers, a hypersonic that ignores most terrain, a mind controller that sees through stealth, an outwitter/perplexer with phasing, shape changing, super senses, impervious, some free blades/claws and a fair dose of psychic blast. The main drawback is that only three of them start with an attack value above 9. The rest start at 9, so that's a good thing. A couple even improve when hit, so that's helpful too. Their average ranged attack is six spaces, but two of them are higher than that. 11 figures in a thousand point match is also pretty good on numbers. It's not the best you can do for the points, but it's not absolute crud either. Use their collection of abilities right and you could be a real pain in your opponents kiester.

Now, how about in other point matches? What could you play in other point matches using MODOK and the MODOK's 11 theme? Here's my take. Opinions will vary, but:

300: use Mentallo and Rocket Racer with their leader in a 300 point match. Why? Because Mentallo ignores stealth and RR ignores all terrain for movement except for blocking. MODOK already gives a lot to his team with running shot and psychic blast, outwit, perplex and reroll. His psychic bomb ability is nothing to sneeze at either, but it comes late in the dial. What Mentallo can do is force pesky stealthers to step out into MODOK's line of fire for his heavy damage scores. Rocket Racer can hit them where ever they hide. Choice of map can get in the way a little, but smart players can get around this with patience. This combo hits 291 points. Thanks to the 1% rule you can fit an armor piercing on RR for extra damage ability. OH, and let's not forget the Hydra team ability possessed by Mentallo and MODOK and copyable by RR.

Hydra Team Ability: "When a friendly character making a ranged combat attack is adjacent to one or more characters using the Hydra team ability, each opposing character targeted by the attacker modifies its defense value by -1 for each character using the Hydra team ability if the characters using the Hydra team ability also have a clear line of fire to the target."

The target does not have be in the actual range of all the Hydra users, just in line of fire.

400: Same as with 300 but add Living Laser for his running shot and long range. Having ranged combat expert for doing up to 5 damage doesn't hurt either. He has the best range and highest running shot out of the whole group. The 9 attack levels are still kind of harsh, but proper use of Hydra can overcome that. This makes for 382 points with room for card usage once again.

500: Same people as above once again, but now add Scientist Supreme for her frontloaded outwit and perplex. She can only perplex someone with the scientist keyword but that's half your force at this point. Phasing mixed with outwit means getting into position to use outwit instantly. The only reason I wait until a 500 point match to use her is that she's 97 points. This comes to 479 points. Plenty of room for card usage now. This team could actually be really lethal. Mobility, traits and psychic blast damage and support powers. Ouch.

600: Still adding to the roster from above, we bring in Puma and the Spot. You may laugh at the Spot, but he's a scientist (perplexable by SS), a transporter with phasing and a decent 18 defense with super senses. Add his cute parlor trick of popping out of walls to flurry on people (after being perplexed for higher damage of course) and you have a real irritant on your hands. This also brings your force up in decent numbers for game presence and tactics. Puma is an obvious one with front loaded charge, blades/claws with super senses AND shape change. The dual protection makes him good.

700: Now I change it up. I like my magnificent sevens and this point range creates a different need in points. The varied points of the figures also create a challenge as point levels go up. You wind up having to look for the best mix for those points. So, MODOK, Mentallo, Living Laser, Armadillo, Puma, Rocket Racer, and Super Adaptoid. This is an outright assault team. It's loaded with move and attack goodness. It has the tactics of the 300 point team and plenty of damage ability. Super Adaptoid fits nicely here. He's a wild card in team abilities and able to use the powers of others. Living Laser makes a good taxi as well. Losing two on his movement still leaves him with 10 space traveling. This comes to 702 points, legal by the 1% rule.

800: Now we're back to adding to the previous roster, this time from the 700. Add Scientist Supreme for her abilities.

900: Now add Nightshade to that. Why didn't I use her a long time ago? You know, for her ability to give adjacent characters blades/claws? Because, frankly, Mentallo is better. He sees through stealth, has a one click longer dial, has mind control front loaded and psychic blast. Nightshade's ability is okay for minion teams and some close quarter issues. Her running shot is good too. I just found her to be too much of a one trick pony for the needs of the team. She just didn't fit the strategies until now. Am I undervaluing her? Maybe, maybe not. I know she could really help out a character that's been based by opponents. It just didn't fit my strategy style.

1000: And we put Chameleon and Spot in the mix. Chameleon will make an okay tie up piece now, but he also didn't fit the strategies above. He doesn't have enough attack and damage to him. All he can really do is hide and incapacitate. He shuts down alter ego abilities, but I've found those fairly rare. When I do come across them, I don't usually care.

So there you have it. I think MODOK's is best played as a higher point team, though maybe most effective in the middle ranges. I like the looks of 600 and 700 points especially. So, keep on clicking and we'll catch you on the roll next time.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Captain America case review

I bought two cases of Captain America and after careful consideration, I'm ready with my review. As usual, I'm going to talk about manufacturing and condition of the pieces as well as playability and some other things I noticed over all. Of course, it's just my opinion and you may feel differently on some points. Kind debate is always welcome.

So, first, the condition of pieces and manufacturing. These are actually really well made and solid pieces. In two cases I had only one figure missing an arm entirely, two that came off their bases (no problem with super glue), and two with arms to reattach. This appears to be the same solid plastic used for the Giant Sized X-men set. Some have a bit of a gloss coat but I find that cool looking. The dials turn really well, better than I've seen so far. In one case only two needed help. In the second, about four wouldn't budge at all, but that makes for six in two cases. A few others I adjusted because they were a little tight, but seriously, great job. And the best part is the sculpts in being able to turn those dials. Thank you Wizkids and Neca for managing to not make any sculpts that stand on a skinny little piece of plastic that feels like it's just going to break when you try and turn the dial! All of these figures are in solid poses that make dial turning and grip that much easier. I couldn't be happier on that one!

Keywords are at an all time high with this set. I'm actually quite happy to see the rebirth of Hydra and AIM. I remember when it was more cannonfodder than anything in both teams. There just weren't many characters, especially from the same set, that you could build for Hydra. Now, you have them all in one set and they can be a fairly decent threat. MODOK's 11 has grown some teeth, especially with the big head himself. But, as usual, not all keywords are created equal.

My first keyword problem is Nomad. Nomad has no keywords. He should have soldier or warrior at least. He was trained by how many Capt. Americas? Check his card, it says "two". I'll play him as a soldier anyway, but he should have the keyword. Gameplay is far too dependant on keyword themes, so there shouldn't be any pieces without at least one. Next there's Batroc's Brigade and Lady Liberators. At least you can find most of the Lady Liberators and maybe get a pass from the judge on keword, or will anyone even play it? It still makes me wonder how keywords get picked. I am glad to see Great Lakes Avengers get filled in a bit more and expansion for the Hand is okay too.

New strategies in duo based figures has been touched on. I know there are plenty of them out there, but most of them are duo figures or transporters, and not just a single figure with double base. I can see how this gives Cap some extra fighting room, but it also makes him a bigger and easier target.

Traits; there's an interesting trait that's surfaced and I like it. This has been done with some white powers before and also with the Warriors Three. Duo traits that give characters a bonus for being together is neat. I especially like the one for Black Panther and Storm, allowing them to use support on each other. Black Panther is kind of expensive though, more than he's ever been. I don't like that.

For my chases I got Capwolf and Rojhaz. I like Capwolf and what he can do for the animal keyword. For that matter, there's some good possibilities for that keyword still in this set.

This set gives a wide range in build possibilities and points. The Winter Guard makes an easy 400 point team while the Secret Warriors can do an easy 300. Ranged combat is getting a little more diverse with more odd numbers to ranges, but I guess that's okay.

Now for the biggest question of all, the removable pieces. I have to say these have been well made for the most part. I worry about small pieces like Cap's shield and the Scorpio Key getting lost but the fireball and invisible shield are pretty cool. I shake my head at the mechanic of the Weapon X tank and Cap's iceberg. I may work out in game play, but I just can't put "wait's to be used" into a good strategy. I would play it just to mess around, but four rounds of just sitting there isn't worth 70 points to me. So, sorry, I'd love to have Weapon X for my collection, but I have two other Wolverines that trump him because I don't have to wait to use them. They also have the built in healing factors. So Cap on ice and Weapon X get my vote for least playable. I'll be back with more heroclix fun soon so stay tuned.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Heroclix Wild Kingdom (On the Attack!)

So, last time we looked at what kind of movement powers certain animals would have. Now it's time to get to attack powers and this looks pretty exciting! First, lets take a look at the attack types like Duo and Sharpshooter.

Sharpshooter allows for ranged attacks to be used in base contact. I have a great suggestion for that one; the spitting cobra. The spitting cobra has a knack for launching venom into the eyes of anything that threatens it, even right up close. For that matter, the closer you are, the better a target you are.

Duos are good for any animals that will kick your butt in mated pairs. Mess with any animals young and you risk that one if both are around. And not just mates, but pack animals too. Good figures to make for this would be a pride of lions (try taking on two lionesses at once!) or a pack of wolves. Yeah they would only be two per duo fig, but isn't that enough? I personally think a pack of wolves would be awesome as minions to begin with.

Naturally, anything else would have the standard attack symbol. Now for the powers.

BLADES, CLAWS AND FANGS: If you can't see how obvious this one is, have someone bounce a dice off your head. Ripping, tearing, clawing, and biting are the primary weapons of the animal world. It would likely be the most common power of them all. The name of the power pretty much spells it out. Cats have sharp teeth and claws, dogs and pack animals have powerful jaws and big incisors. Crocodiles and Alligators have super sized teeth too! Even primates could have this for their huge sharp teeth. They aren't just for looks you know.

ENERGY EXPLOSION: The first thing that comes to mind when I think of animals or insects with this, is the bombadier beetle. It launches a stinky attack at enemies to include things like ants. However, you won't see one of those taking on a pack of wolves right? Well, apply this to the old "monkey flings poo" and you'll see any group on the receiving end duly affected. Splash damage anyone? I think so. It's laughable, but you have to admit it would work.

PULSE WAVE: The ability to hit every target in half range for one damage regardless of powers like stealth is given to the skunk and honey badger. The musk power of these animals can clear any area as of right now. For that matter, if you are too close, you might get the affect of the next power:

QUAKE: Take two damage and knockback (forced away by two spaces) if you are in base contact. I could see large charging animals use this power too, like a bull elephant. Watch them smash through a small village and tell me there wasn't a quake involved. In the water, this power (and pulsewave) could be granted to the electric eel. Short ranged, but you know how electricity and water mix right?

SUPER STRENGTH: Lifting big objects and throwing them around? Elephants can do that and so can most apes. Need help to see just how strong? Check this out:

INCAPACITATE: The ability to hold something in place, giving it an extra action token is a power good for big snakes, giant squid, or an octopus. Spiders use webbing for this as well. Good for insect levels of clix games.

PSYCHIC BLAST: Basically this is a ranged attack that does penetrating damage (ignores defensive powers that reduce damage). Once again the spitting cobra could have this one because of it's awesome aim. Skunks could take it again too because who ever gets hit by the mainstream of that musk shot is going to suffer.

SMOKE CLOUD: Creating hindering terrain as a defense goes right to the squid and octopus for those mass ink jets. Skunks could have it too. No one likes going through musk clouds. Some large animals can kick up a lot of dust just by stomping around.

POISON: Lots of snakes would have this one. The longer you stay near them, the more you get bit and poisoned, right? Various insect swarms would work the same way.

TELEKINESIS: Okay, so consider this, an elephant picks up an orangutan and throws it out to some other target. It could also throw objects at a greater distance than some other animals. Telekinesis is really just moving objects and characters around at a greater distance. Yeah, it's not really telekinesis like the super heroes, but it's as close as an animal is going to get. Basically it's animals that can throw other animals.

So, what did you think of this set? Any power ideas of your own for what's listed so far?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Heroclix Wild Kingdom (Intro and Speed!)

I had this crazy idea recently about what heroclix would be like in various others areas of reality and even life as we know it. A favorite subject of mine jumped right out; animals.

What would heroclix in the Wild Kingdom be like? What creatures would get what powers? Well, wonder no more. In this little series you will see what kind of animals would get what powers and more. I'm going to start out with movement powers for this segment and go from there.

FLURRY: Think about animals that could smack you twice or more before you know what hit you. You should immediately come up with just about anything in the Primate family. Orangutans and gorillas are great candidates. They can bounce your head back and forth between their palms with a quickness. Ouch! How about cats? There's a flurry/blades combo for sure. For one that you might not think of, the kangaroo. They can jump up and land both feet on a target in succession. There are even some birds and snakes that could pull this off. The Cassowary of Australia is arguably the most aggressive and mean bird on the planet. It's almost as big as an ostrich with nasty velociraptor-like claws. They jump and kick with those things. The Green Mamba is well known for multiple striking before it's target can get away. Most of the time they can land at least three hits before you can stumble away from the first one.

LEAP CLIMB: Lots of animals would have this as a trait built right in and others would surely have it on the dial. Not all would have it at superhero proportions, but several would. Your apes can pull it off as can many cats. And squirrels, hey, why not?

PHASING/TELEPORT: Now you're shaking your head. No way right? Okay, try an insect swarm. If there are enough of them, they can get into anywhere. I've seen ants get into the tightest and best maintained houses. Rodents can sneak into places too. Anything you could see and find yourself wondering, "hey, how'd that get in here?" is a good candidate for this power. They just have a knack for finding their way through.

EARTHBOUND NEUTRALIZED: This would be more a power for flightless birds or those that have taken damage. Animals that have been hurt would wind up with this debilitation.

CHARGE: Again, plenty of creatures would have this. They could start out with it and move to flurry later on too. Big time chargers would be rhinos, elephants, hippos (yes hippos), anything with horns or antlers, and yeah, the big cats too. Dogs could have charge. So this is another easy one.

MIND CONTROL: No? Consider this phrase: "but it's just so cute!". It may be debatable in some places, but there are animals often misjudged for their cute or pretty appearance. Think of animals with special tricks to survive in the wild. The Opossum plays dead and people often think of the Koala as cute and cuddly when it's not. It's actually coarse and rough. It also has claws. You could go the mythological route and consider snakes to have a hypnotizing gaze if you wanted to. Then, again, we come to insects. In Costa Rica there is a wasp that plants is larvae on a particular type of spider. Once the larvae become active, the spider is literally compelled to build a protective nest for the larvae it is eventually consumed by. Chew on that.

PLASTICITY: Okay, snakes. Primates could show some serious grappling ability. How about octopus and squid? Oh, and while we're on the matter of aquatics, obviously some animals would be confined to their terrain. However, that doesn't make them easy targets. You have to go in after them. Aquatics would have automatic stealth in the water, if you aren't in there with them.

FORCE BLAST: An animal that can repel you back.... hmmm.. how about the skunk? Some animals have defenses that can surely send you packing. Skunks, honey badgers, and even some snakes have this defense. You can even take the knock back damage because you got clumsy trying to get away and smashed into things. It happens.

HYPERSONIC SPEED: This goes to the worlds clearly fastest animals. The cheetah, the pronghorn antelope, and the peregrine falcon. They may not be able to do it as far as superheroes, but far enough. Anything that has it's class's label as being the fastest of its kind could be given this speed power. Oh and let's go aquatic again; the sailfish and mako shark are both capable of over fifty mph. Wanna go swimming?

STEALTH: One word for this one, camouflage. We all know about animals with stripes and spots and colors that help them hide in nearly plain sight. Some could have a built in trait, others use it when advantageous.

RUNNING SHOT: Primates can take this one again. They are well known for throwing things, gross things. They can do it well on the move too. Chimpanzees are famous for this one. So yes, animals can have running shot.

Naturally special powers and combinations apply. Movement symbols are very direct and simply. Some animals can even be transporters, anything people ride works for that one. Then some animals would have the special ability to cling to others and hitch a ride (at no penalty).

So that's one big look at how heroclix could go animal. Yes, I know it's a keyword, but I'm talking about an entire animal set (just for fun- I know they aren't going to make a set like that).