With apologies to Tina Turner, now that we’ve wrapped up January and are preparing for the REAL start of the Heroclix year in February (with the exception of many venues across the country who are FINALLY catching up on Month One of AvX–although, God help me, not mine–January has been a Dead Zone for Heroclix), it’s time for our final list of, well, lists, to wrap up the year that was.
2013 saw more figures released than any year previous. No, I don’t have mountains of data to back that up, but holy Lord, look at everything we got this year:
—Amazing Spider-Man (February)
—Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game (March)
—TabApp Elites for Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel (Various)
—No Man’s Land (Various)
—Iron Man 3 (April, although I don’t think the Target stuff hit ’til May)
—Teen Titans (May)
—Man of Steel (June)
—Wolverine and the X-Men (August)
—Batman Classic TV (September)
—Superman Quick Start Kit (September)
—Thor: The Dark World (October)
—Fear Itself (All Summer, wrapped in November for most venues)
—Batman: Arkham Origins (November)
—Invincible Iron Man (November)
That’s quite a bit, eh? Oh, but wait–we’re not done yet. Not even close!!
—Star Trek: Tactics 2 (January)
—Star Trek: Mini-Game (April)
—Iron Maiden (May)
—The Fellowship of the Ring (June)
—Pacific Rim (July)
—Bioshock Infinite (July)
—Kick Ass 2 (July–man, they love July releases, don’t they?)
—The Lone Ranger (August)
—Star Trek: Tactics III (October)
—The Hobbit: Journey to the Lonely Mountain Strategy Game (October)
—The Two Towers (November)
—Mage Knight: Resurrection (November)
—DOTA 2 (November)
—The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (November)
I mean, are you kidding me?! 28 releases in 2013 alone?! No one has time to sort through all those figures, much less collect them! Well, that’s where we come in. Pull up a chair, find something fruity to drink, and let’s get to it. These… were the best Heroclix of 2013!!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Bolded entries were the winner in their respective category; any other entries were the runners up. Which is why they weren’t bolded. Cuz I only break out the Bolding Stick… for Simply the Best!! Ahem.]
BEST 5-FIGURE SET (Marvel or DC):
Wolverine and the X-Men
This was very close. Fear Itself broke ground as the first 5-Figure Set that could only be obtained through tourney play, and it was the hottest thing going the first two months it was played; Teen Titans gave us the first Team Bases (some would argue that this was a huge debacle, but whatever) and some really underrated figures (Omen, Psimon, 81-Point Wonder Girl); Wolverine and the X-Men gave us Phoenix 5 Chases, some cool Primes and some even cooler Team Bases (Side Note–C’mon, the Shi’ar?! How cool is that? Never thought I’d see WizKids make a full-0n Shi’ar Team Base! And Lilandra doesn’t even go on it! I mean, she makes it totally broken, but she doesn’t actually go on it! Outside of Gladiator, I knew, like, zero of these figures, and I LOVE the cosmic Marvel stuff. Props to WizKids for having the guts to not only make a Team Base full of figures that many players probably didn’t know about, but to then also make that piece overpowered as–well, it’s overpowered.); and Invincible Iron Man kind of snuck up on everyone and ended up being waaaaaay more powerful than folks expected:
But Amazing Spider-Man was the first set we got in 2013, and it was the best by just about every measure. I don’t know if WizKids has every produced such a well-rounded group of figures. You want power pieces for the Meta? Brother Voodoo and Ghost Rider ate up the Meta to the point that, outside of Spiral and the JLA Team Base–who, let’s remember, might have been a couple of the most broken pieces not just in Heroclix history but in the last 25 years of gaming– they were singled out in the Watchlist as needing immediate change lest they ruin all of Heroclix with their unstoppable nature. (Side Note 2–How did Brother Voodoo escape the Watch List? He was one of the most broken things on there!! All they did that even SLIGHTLY affected Brother Voodoo was alter the HfH ATA, and that was only so Ghost Rider couldn’t kill entire armies by himself whenever he felt the need for vengeance! Brother Voodoo don’t care about that! His Spirit Brother is still going to possess the shit out of you! For free. Go read those Watch List changes again. It spits on a dozen different figures and strategies until it comes to Brother Voodoo, but then it almost apologizes for having him on the list in the first place. So the question must be asked… Just what does Brother Voodoo have on WizKids?) And fast forward 3 months after the Watchlist, and Alyosha Kraven (the rare Prime) is now powering Animal teams in the Meta with Lizard. It gave Spidey book fans plenty of supporting characters they’ve been waiting for (Kaine! Madame Web!) along with a ton of fantastic options for Sinister Syndicate teams.
And we finally got some damn Monsters!! Dracula, Living Mummy (ridiculous for his points), Werewolves, Vampires and Morbius, oh my! We even got some Maximum Carnage pieces! Thematically, this set just hit it out of the park. And just when it seemed like there couldn’t possibly be any more new versions of Spider-Man to make, WizKids goes and gives us EIGHT freaking Chases, all with the Morph ability! And top to bottom, there are almost no duds in the set. Good gosh, I’m two paragraphs deep talking about the great figures of this set and I still haven’t mentioned Hannibal King, Doctor Druid, Shocker, Carrion, Terrax, Nightmare, Spider-Man 2099–all these figs would be the highlights of most releases, and they’re practically an afterthought here. And Franken-Castle! We have a freaking Franken-Castle! How is the world–and how are we as a species–not better for having a Franken-Castle?!
No matter what format you play, there was something cool for you in ASM. And that’s why it wins this category.
BEST GRAVITY FEED (Marvel or DC):
Iron Man 3 (Target Exclusive)
Batman: Arkham Origins
Thor: The Dark World (Target Exclusive)
This was also pretty close. The movie sets tend to be a little bit larger, with a variant Target-exclusive version, so they have a distinct advantage over the regular set Gravity Feeds. ASM’s Gravity Feed is filled with above-average pieces, but nothing that I would call truly great; Teen Titans had Rose Wilson and nothing else worth writing home about; WXM had a few great pieces like Jean Grey and Shi’ar Guard, but not much else, and the IIM Gravity Feed actually featured an entire run of crappier versions of the some of the main set staples (I’m not gonna go on a rant again about Gravity Feed Rescue, but, man, she sucked so hard!). Batman: Arkham Origins was pretty awesome, except good luck pulling a rare. Distribution definitely seemed off. Still, Deadshot, Shiva, Deathstroke, Joker… there were some great figs here. Deadshot and Shiva especially are great for their points.
Among the three movie sets (well, six if you want to split each one into the Target Exclusive/Non-Target Exclusive versions) we got, the Target Exclusive Iron Man 3 set was the best top to bottom. The rares were all good–actually, War Machine is great, and the Chase (Iron Man and War Machine duo fig on single base) is severely underrated. Especially now that 125 Point War Machine exists as a thing for Splitting and Merging (and is pretty great in its own right). Moreover, the Commons were spectacular; Tony Stark & Aldrich Killian have factored into the Meta at various points through their run. Hell, even 75 Point Rookie Iron Man is beastly for his points! Simply put, this is the Gravity Feed set with the most figs that I’ll still be playing 12 months from now.
BEST GRAVITY FEED (Non-Marvel or DC):
The Fellowship of the Ring
If you’re gonna release a Gravity Feed set where there’s only, like, 11 0r 12 different figures, you could do far worse than to release an all-Colossal set where GIANT FREAKING ROBOTS BATTLE GIANT FREAKING MONSTERS! We’ve talked about Slattern before; but the other figs in this set are just plain cool. Great sculpts, and this set opens up so many Epic Game options. You can fill out a 400, 500 or 600 Point Build in no time. And while, outside of 600 Point Slattern, I wouldn’t say that any of these figs are ridiculously good, they’re all fun to play.
The Fellowship of the Ring is a good set with one broken fig–Saruman. His Mind Control special rivals Omen’s for its reach and scope; it can’t really be defended against. He’s already made some impact in ROC, I believe. As has Iron Maiden, which, despite being another short set, is filled with interesting power sets. ROC has really shown a spotlight on a lot of these crazier sets–you really need to be prepared for almost anything when you play one of those.
OP Exclusive Sets (Fear Itself)
The Mandarin’s Rings
The excitement generated by the first few months of Fear Itself trumps the dominance of the Team Bases, which I’m not sure WizKids has perfected yet. Fear Itself got a ton of players who normally wouldn’t participate in Organized Play into their local venues, since they’d be missing out on an entire set otherwise. That means a lot. Team Bases are a cool concept that were so initially overpowered that there was no point in playing a Modern Age tournament without one (specifically the JLA). They’re in a better place now, with several worth playing but none that are head and shoulders above the others (although Shi’ar and Hellfire Club are close).
Plus, that excitement you got when opening that month’s allotment of FI boosters was second to none. Once everyone had most of the set (by Month 4 or 5, usually), yeah, it became a bit tedious, but Fear Itself was the hottest thing going for a while.
The Mandarin’s Rings are the first Resource components distributed through regular boosters (at least that I’m aware of). They’re fun to collect, and are great Relics in their own right, but you still need a Power Plant to get them to their full potential.
BEST TEAM BASE:
Trinity of Sin
Hellfire Club/New Mutants (tie)
This was a close one, and my final selections are taking the Watchlist nerfs into account (otherwise, this would have been the JLA all day. That base is still powerful–Edward Shelton recently piloted it to a second-place finish at a ROC event–but these other bases didn’t lose as much as JLA did to the Watchlist changes.). But the Trinity of Sin is just all kinds of wrong. Plus, each one of its pop-offs can shut down a specific staple–Prob, Outwit or Perplex (although with Quintessence, you’re probably only worried about Prob or Perp). And, if you have the Trinity of Sin, that means you also have access to The Question and Pandora for any Modern Age Mystical builds you want to compete with–those are two of the strongest pieces with that keyword right now (particularly the Question–he’s already shown up on some major tournament Top 16 teams).
The Shi’ar Team Base is almost as disgusting, with great stats, one of the best pop-offs in the game in Warstar and the fact that it possesses a plethora of ways to decimate your opponent’s strategy. Does your opponent have really efficient taxis to ferry his big hitters around? Manta turns all fliers into non-carrying walkers. Did they stack their team with a ton of cheap figs in an attempt to overwhelm you? Just get the Assest Dial to Starbolt and his three target Energy Explosion. And so on. There just aren’t a lot of great ways to go at this piece, because it has so many options available to defend itself.
Hellfire Club and New Mutants also feature a bunch of trickeration backed up by some sneaky damage potential (and the Black King may actually be a BETTER pop-off than Warstar, if that’s possible).
Batmobile (Batman Classic TV)
I’m mainly doing this category to highlight the fact that WE GOT NO FREAKING VEHICLES this year! After introducing a promising new mechanic, WizKids just rolled right on into Team Bases. Will we ever get Marvel vehicles? Who knows, but I want a damn S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, dammit! And the Winter Soldier movie set coming in late March would be perfect. Everyone keeps asking for a Colossal Helicarrier, which makes sense, but if they can fit an entire castle on a single base, I don’t see why we can’t get some sort of single base Chase Helicarrier or something to tie in with the movie. End of rant.
BEST NEW BUILD ENABLER:
Duhg (Thor: The Dark World)
Absorbing Man LE (Invincible Iron Man)
Shuma-Gorath (Convention LE)
Shuma and Absorbing Man have affected the Meta way more, but y’know what? Duhg teams are just more fun to build. They just are. When you’re bored at work, just pick a Build Total, pull out your smart phone and start building a Duhg team. You’ll look up and it’ll be at least ten minutes later. It’s like time traveling, I swear.
BEST MAIN ATTACKER PIECE (for the 300 Point Meta):
Silver Centurion (IIM Prime)
War Machine (IIM Prime)
Silver Centurion is among the best main attack pieces WizKids has ever made, especially considering that you have your choice of augmenting him with the Power Plant or The Book of the Skull. He’s basically immune to Pulse Wave, Pen/Psy and Poison–basically everything you would realistically use to take him down. He brings his own secondary attacker. His Keywords are awesome. And you have 139 points left over for support figs. Or 89 Points after paying for Booklip.
War Machine Prime is only worse in that he costs more points. But he has the possibility of doing insane amounts of damage every three turns or so (depending on how many times he’s attacked and such). Fantomex is just rude. Coldly efficient, especially when teamed with some Barrier pieces.
BEST SUPPORT PIECE:
Brother Voodoo (ASM Prime)
E Scarlet Witch (AvX)
Cerise (WXM Prime)
Whew. This was the closest call of the night, but Brother Voodoo is simply the best. Free Mind Control & Smoke Cloud PLUS Prob that rotates into Perplex… and oh, you say you think you can hit an 18 Defense with Super Senses while maneuvering around Smoke Cloud and Prob? Incidentally, this was a great year for support figs. I didn’t even mention Raven or Omen, two of my favorites from Teen Titans, or that little turd Bat-Mite. And that AvX Scarlet Witch is gonna have to pull some Brother Voodoo type intimidation tactics to avoid Watch List 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Well, that about covers it. Or maybe not, but we’ve already cruised right past the 2500 word barrier, which usually means I’ve outstayed my welcome. But let me know what you think in the Comments section. Did I get it right? Were there any categories I should have considered but didn’t? Post your picks below!!