(As always, with apologies to Tina Turner for stealing her gimmick…)
Is it 2015 already? Yes. Yes, Timmy, it is. Which means another year of Heroclix has come and gone. And since it’s January, it also means that it’s time to look back at the year that was and pick out the best, coolest and weirdest pieces!
In other words… IT’S TIME FOR A YEAR-END REVIEW!!
But first, let’s look at all the Heroclix releases from 2014:
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re gonna leave AvX out of it, since it technically started in 2013, although many of the participating venues didn’t finish up until January or February.]
–Yu-Gi-Oh! HeroClix: Series One (01/08/2014)
–Fast Forces: Legion of Doom (02/26/2014)
–Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes (02/26/2014)
–Captain America: The Winter Soldier (03/12/2014)
–Batman: Arkham Origins Quick-Start Kit (05/03/2014) [EDITOR’S NOTE: While technically a release, this was given out at certain venues on Free Comic Book Day. The figures are actually kind of interesting, but they’re Purple Ringed and, therefore, not tourney legal. Still, this is a cool lil’ setup.]
–Fast Forces: Thunderbolts (05/14/2014)
–X-Men: Days of Future Past (05/31/2014)
–War of Light (06/01/2014)
–Return of the King (06/04/2014)
–Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Set (07/02/2014)
–Justice League Strategy Game (07/09/2014)
–Fast Forces: The Inhumans (08/13/2014)
–Guardians of the Galaxy (08/13/2014)
–The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (11/05/2014)
–Fast Forces: Rogues (11/12/2014)
–The Flash (11/12/2014)
Whew!! Okay! So we had 17 major releases in 2014. And that’s not including the various Convention Exclusives that also released this year. Plus, War of Light came in two Waves and therefore almost counts as two sets on it’s own. A major success, War of Light also birthed the Entity Chases, which were probably the most sought after Chases of all-time.
Speaking of Entity-fueled successes, here is the publicly released third quarter earnings statement put out by Heroclix makers WizKids/NECA, LLC:
In response to the secondary market frenzy created by the Entity Chases, WizKids/NECA, LLC submitted this follow-up statement:
So, in other words, the game did okay this year. But enough about the games finances!
Time to dole out some Critters*!! As always, these categories are chosen and (ill-)defined by yours truly!
[*EDITOR’S NOTE: “Critters” is the current short name for the annual “Simply the Best” awards handing out by Critical Missives. It’s creepy. We know it’s creepy. We’re working on it.]
SIMPLY THE BEST… PRIMARY ATTACKER (Vaguely defined as the best attacking piece to build an army around):
WOL025 The Weaponer of Qward
WOL107 Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern)
GOTG062 Super Skrull
FL053B Zoom (Black Lantern)
FL050 The Flash
AND THE CRITTER GOES TO…
Why Super Skrull Won: Versatility. Pure and simple. No matter which Clix your opponent sets down in front of you when you start the game, if you’re running Super Skrull, you know you’ve got a chance. His Trait (IT’S HARD TO EMULATE FOUR POWERS WITH HALF MY LIMBS: Give Super Skrull a free action and choose up to one each of standard speed, attack, defense, and damage powers. Super Skrull can use the chosen powers until your next turn. For each power chosen this way, place a Power token on his card. At the end of your turn, roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled, and subtract 1 for each Power token on his card and remove all Power tokens from his card. On a result of 1 or less, deal Super Skrull 1 unavoidable damage.) is simply ridiculous, and that’s before you remember he’s got the standard Z-Virus powers that let him bank healing for the future while also having the ability to resurrect your opponent’s KO’d pieces… on your side!
Kyle Rayner just missed out on this for me. The fact that a guy used Super Skrull to take out a buncha Kyle teams (among others) in a recent ROC was the deciding factor for me.!
Banshee is almost as good with his strong stats and his ability to target through both Hindering and Elevated Terrain, but he’s stymied by the existence of Copycat. The fact that there’s a piece out there that simply let’s your opponent take Banshee and leave you with a walking Pu-Pu Platter is intolerable to me… and makes playing Banshee somewhat risky.
Black Lantern Zoom is extremely good for his points, but he does take up your Prime slot, which sometimes makes it harder to field great supporting figs around him.
And finally, the Kingdom Come Flash just hasn’t been around long enough to truly flex his muscles in the Meta. Once Resources rotate back in, expect to see a bunch of Sinestro Corps Batteries powering the Flash here to victory!
SIMPLY THE BEST… SECONDARY ATTACKER (Vaguely defined as figures who can reliably damage the enemy but cost less than the Primary Attacker in your Build):
SLOSH057 Lydea Mallor
DP053A Speed Demon
WOL010 Controller [EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, got my lists confused. Controller belongs in the “Most Embarrassing Piece to Pull in a War Of Light OP Event” category.]
WOL013B Tomar Tu
GOTG007B Captain Marvel
GOTG023 Yondu (Yep! They both made this list!)
GOTG059B Doctor Spectrum
AND THE CRITTER GOES TO…
Why Speed Demon Won: My Lord, this was a packed category, and it really came down to Speed Demon and Captain Marvel at the end. Either one would have walked away with this category in 2013, but damn, how do you choose here? I give Speed Demon the nod for two reasons. One, he’s not a Prime (actually, he’s better than Whizzer, his Prime version), so you can still run a Prime character in your Build. And two, his Trait (SPEED CYCLONE UPLIFT: When Speed Demon moves, after actions resolve, choose an opposing character and roll a d6. If the result is less than the number of distinct squares that Speed Demon moved into or through that are adjacent to that character during the move, you may place that character within line of fire of its square and up to the result away in squares and deal that character half of the result in damage.) was the best Trait I read this year. It can be gamechanging on its own, but when you start to combine it with things like Entities or The Phoenix Force, Speed Demon can get out of hand in a hurry.
Captain Marvel (the Prime) was a close second. His ability to completely shut down the attacks of anyone he hits is stupid good. He’s a little crunchy himself, but his Special Defend power lets him boost the Defense Value of most adjacent friendlies to 19!!
Both Yondu figures are great; much has already been said about the main set Uncommon from GOTG. But I really think folks need to take another look at the GotG Movie Set version. He’s a different kind of ridiculousness.
I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far and not mentioned Lydea Mallor. There was a time when she ruled ROC’s all across the country. Now, she’s kind of old news. Still, she may have burned through her usefulness quickly, but she also burned quite brightly for that short while, too. With the new ROC season allowing Resources again, I’d expect her business to pick back up a bit.
SIMPLY THE BEST… SUPPORTING FIGURE (Vaguely Defined as those pieces that round out your force by providing those important non-damage dealing abilities, like Perplex, Probability Control or Outwit; Support; or TK, or Taxi Service, or something else entirely):
SLOSH001 Cosmic Boy
CATWS005 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent
CATWS014 Agent Sitwell
DP018 Blind Al
DOFP008 Senator Robert Kelly
WOL007 Blue Lantern Recruit
WOL010 Controller [EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, got my lists confused again. This Controller nomination belongs in the “Most Exciting Piece to open during War Of Light: Month 1… Until You Realize That He Isn’t a Poorly Scuplted Superboy Prime Like You Were Hoping.” category.]
WOL033 Sister Sercy
WOL029 Brother Hymn
GOTGM018 Rocket Raccoon
GOTG017A Kree Lieutenant
FL007 S.T.A.R. Labs Technician
AND THE CRITTER GOES TO…
Why Rocket Raccoon Won: So, while the 300 Point Meta game probably exerts the greatest influence on a lot of these awards, I chose Rocket because he offers so many great supporting abilities PLUS he’s the lynchpin to so many different cool Guardian of the Galaxy Builds (if you’re playing Star-Lord from the comic set, you almost HAVE to play the Movie Chase Rocket with him!). He’s also a decent Secondary Attacker (not great, but decent) and certainly could have been nominated in that category as well.
But I view him more as a Supporting Figure. He lends adjacent snipers Enhancement, he has Outwit with a 7 Range AND he buffs the Attack Values of adjacent friendlies that share at least one of his two main keywords (Ravagers or Guardians of the Galaxy). Now, there are certainly other figures in the game who can buff both Attack and Damage (Rocket’s fellow nominee Weasel can do that trick too), but you can very easily run into positioning issues where you find it extremely difficult to keep the Enhancer next to the Attacker that your trying to buff. Not with Rocket! He’s Tiny-sized, which means he can be carried by just about any attacker, whether or not they fly! And, being tiny, Rocket doesn’t make the carrier subtract two from their movement (VEEEERRRY helpful during Running Shot/Carry maneuvers.)
Blue Lantern Recruit packs about every starting ability you’d want into one tiny, 50-Point shell. He probably would have won this if not for Rocket.
Ditto for Mercy, except I like Blue Lantern Recruit just a tad better.
Agent Sitwell is an AWESOME supporting piece… as long as you’re playing a S.H.I.E.L.D. team.
Finally, S.T.A.R. Labs Technician has already started to show up in the Meta. Great package of abilities for the point cost.
SIMPLY THE BEST… WORST FIGURE OF THE YEAR (Vaguely defined as, well, the worst figure of the year, which would technically make that piece the best at sucking):
FL018 Steve Trevor
FL019B Bizarro Flash
SLOSH047A White Witch
DOFP002 Sprite & DOFP020 Ariel (A RARE DUAL DISAPPOINTMENT!!)
WOL010 Controller (FINALLY!! A category he’s SUPPOSED to be nominated in!)
AND THE CRITTER GOES TO…
Why Steve Trevor Won: So, at only 54 Points, you could argue that there are much worse figures out there who, by virtue of the higher Point cost, would be a bigger detriment to your team because you’d have to sink more of your Build’s Resources (i.e. Build Points) into fielding them.
And you’d be wrong. As I argued during the 12 Nights of Clix-Mas, Steve Trevor is so bad that you’ve probably already lost the game just by fielding him, since you probably thought you could successfully find a way to use his Leadership Special Power. And you were wrong. Because while Steve Trevor has a bevy of keywords to chose from, he makes an awful Leader no matter which squad you choose to run.
“But HypeFox,” I can already hear you saying, “Running Shot and Psychic/Blast is an awesome combo, and he has that top click!” Sure he does. He also has a 5 (not 6) Range and only a 16 ES/D for Defense. Look, you could play two more Entities for that price; it’d be cheesy, but you could. Instead, you chose the worst dial released this year.
Are you going against Steve Trevor? Oh, I have some advice. Here’s the secret to taking down Steve Trevor: deal him one damage (I promise it will go through). At that point, on Click 2, Steve Trevor gets Willpower, a 9 Attack and he keeps his craptastic Empower/Leadership Special Power.
And don’t think that it’s that hard to get Steve here to his second Click. All you need is one character with Poison and some patience. Oh, did Steve Trevor just move? Well, go ahead and plop your Poisoner adjacent to him. Whether Steve stays and takes the Poison or he Pushes to vacate the premises, your job is done, since that Willpower only shows up on Click 2!!
Krona is 245 Points with a Trait that can’t be legally activated in a 300 Point game unless your running an Entity on a figure 30 Points or less. The benefit to Krona if you do all that? Probably a +2 to his Range or Speed Value. Lame. This character was a universe-imperiling badass in the comics; in Clix, the only thing he’ll imperil is your chance to win if you field him.
White Witch is impossible to promote, even though Battlefield Promotion is one of the only reasons to play her.
Controller is, well, Controller. He has the capability of dealing 4 Penetrating Damage to any character within his Range… provided that he’s already hit with EIGHT FREAKING ATTACKS!! And if he’s already done that, well, you’ve probably already won the game.
SIMPLY THE BEST… GRAVITY FEED SET (Marvel or DC):
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Set
Days of Future Past
AND THE CRITTER GOES TO…
Why CATWS Won: Top to bottom, it had the best pieces. It added a metric POOP-TON of S.H.I.E.L.D.-keyworded figs and gave us a very solid Chase (Cap and Bucky) and a damn near broken one (Captain America and Black Widow). We now have a very useful Nick Fury, and Agent Sitwell is one of the best S.H.I.E.L.D. supporting figs we’ve seen since… well, since the CATWS005 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent THAT’S ALSO IN THIS SET!!
Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Set gave us a fantastic Chase Rocket, probably the best Drax we’ve seen yet along with the best version of The Collector we’ve ever received. Having said that, most of the pieces I keep reaching for from this set (Star-Lord, Ronan) are actually from the STARTER, not the Gravity Feed.
Days of Future Past had some neat ideas, but top to bottom it can’t compare with CATWS. Professor X is great until you see that he’s overcosted by at least 30 Points. Sprite and Ariel pose that time-honored riddle: when you have the opportunity to eat the Chicken Salad you didn’t want OR the Egg Salad you didn’t want, which do you chose?
And finally, Deadpool was probably about the best main set Gravity Feed we got all year. It was worth seeking out the Deadpool dial that comes in the Gravity Feed just for his Word Bubble alone. Daredevil in that same Feed is a SwitchClix, which is a really cool thing to pull from a Gravity Feed pack. Also, Secret Empire Number 9 is one of the best Ranged supporting pieces in Modern right now that no one ever talks about.
SIMPLY THE BEST… PRIME FIGURE (Vaguely defined as… well, it’s pretty self-explanatory, actually):
DP019B Evil Deadpool
WOL013B Tomar Tu
WOL046B Abin Sur
GOTG007B Captain Marvel
FL037B Dark Flash
AND THE CRITTER GOES TO…
Why Captain Marvel Won: Wow! This was probably the deepest and most competitive category this year. Captain Marvel wins because he does so many different things to help your team win, yet at 81 Points he’s on the low-end of what most Secondary Attackers cost. Plus, his Attack Special ability that–among other things–allows him to shut down opposing figures counter-attacks when he hits them (UNI-BEAM: Captain Marvel can use Energy Explosion, Incapacitate, and Penetrating/Psychic Blast. When Captain Marvel hits with a ranged combat attack, hit targets can’t make attacks during their next turn.) is damn near broken!
Abin Sur is just ridiculously cheap, and he has the Construct ability. He finished second for me.
Whizzer is a great figure, but I can’t vote for a figure for “Best Prime” when it’s NON-PRIME (Speed Demon) is both cheaper to field AND more effective.
Zoom would have finished third; he’s fantastic, but he’s almost a Primary Attacker. Nothing wrong with that, except that many of the best Modern Age Supporting Figures happen to be Primes themselves right now, which means that you can’t use them in a Build with Zoom.
Finally, Cat still has a lot of room to grow in the Meta. Now that ROC is switching back to a format where Relics and Resources are allowed, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see him turn up a little more often.
SIMPLY THE BEST… 5-FIGURE SET (Vaguely defined as THE SET OF THE YEAR!!):
Guardians of the Galaxy
War of Light
Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes
AND THE CRITTER GOES TO…
Why Guardians of the Galaxy Won: The Critical Missives version of Best Picture goes to… Guardians of the Galaxy?! Hmmm… Before I sat down to write this article, I thought for sure War of Light would capture this, but when I look back over this past year, I have to say that, top to bottom, Guardians was the best set. The fact that every generic had a “soldier” version and a “royal” version is freaking awesome. It actually cut down so much on the normal clusterglut (a term I just coined) of generic Commons that you accumulate every time you buy packs.
War of Light did this too, to an extent, but that was mostly different versions of the same character (“Kyle Rayner as a White Lantern. Kyle Rayner as a Blue Lantern. And on and on…”). War of Light was also WAAAAAY harder to initially collect. But Guardians also gave us almost as many Meta pieces as WOL without all the headaches (Entities). Even now, I still feel like there’s TONS of undiscovered GOTG pieces just waiting to be tried out. Heck, Ninwashui finally beat me for once just the other day using a Brother Royal team. It was ridiculously effective–and you never even see those guys. At least, not yet. But GOTG’s top to bottom depth is what put it over the top for me!
War of Light obviously finished second. It was everything DC fans seemed to want and more. Uh, way more. It was actually like 3 or 4 separate Lantern stories rolled into one set. Still, it gave us a lot of previously Un-Clix’d figures, and two MAJOR new mechanics with the Construct Trait (found on the Primes and Participation Prizes) and the Entities (with their “Possessed” Traits). The Entities were extremely powerful; they’re recent slight-nerfing probably has them in the right place, power-wise. The Construct Trait is the next thing that may need to get looked at; I’ve seen so many players going out of their way to play, like, 4 Wall-bearing figures in larger point games (“If no one can target any of my figures ever, I’ll win!” Uh, yeah, Timmy, maybe, but it’s the antithesis of what the game is about. It’s basically the strategy of people who don’t trust their own ability to orchestrate a strategy.). So War of Light was second for me, if only because it caused so many issues in the Meta and beyond; but as we end 2014 and roll into 2015, I’m pretty happy with where we’re at Rulings-wise with the set, and I think it’ll be an important source of Builds for the next couple years.
Deadpool was awesome. It gave us Speed Demon and Banshee and a TON of great Hand figures. It also gave us Copycat, who was just as big of a problem (in her own way) for a while as the Entities were.
Flash had some of the best sculpts of the year. The Speed Force mechanic isn’t as cool as the two mechanics put forth by War of Light, but it’s still a solid addition to the game.
Finally, SLoSH will primarily just be remembered for Lydea Mallor, I think. It wasn’t a bad set; it just wasn’t as much fun as the other big sets we got this year.
Well, there you have it!! That’s all for this year’s Critters*!!
Join us next month as we dive into Justice League: Trinity War and start a new Page for this site that’s devoted to Comics on TV!!
Until then, Stay Safe, and Watch Where You Draw Your Lines of Fire!!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, no really, we are still working on it! We’ll have it sorted for next year!]