[EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to Clix-Mas 2018, wherein we here at Critical Missives rather foolishly try to provide you with twelve different articles in twelve days, all brought to you by either the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, or the Ghost of Christmas Future! If you need to catch up with our intro to all of this, the first Night of Clix-Mas 2018 can be found in our first post of the season, and Night 2 just went down right here!]
Welcome to the Third Night of Clix-Mas!!
Today I’m gonna take a stroll down memory lane and look at my three favorite Golden Age Clix of All-Time and try to figure out A.) Why I like them so much and B.) If there’s something about their design that can inform us about the game as it stands today!
So, without further ado…
3. CW057 Sentry and Void — 300 Points — Chase:
Why This Piece: On an aesthetic and backstory level, I have always liked The Sentry. Actually, let me rephrase that. I loved Paul Jenkins initial Sentry event, where he wove The Sentry into the Marvel Universe via Forrest Gump-like flashbacks. Even Stan Lee and Wizard Magazine (the premier comics price guide and entertainment zine at the time) got in on the act.
I don’t really know what the hell Bendis was doing with The Sentry in New Avengers, but some people liked that storyline, so whatever. But even I will admit that The Siege was pretty cool.
When we got to Chaos War, Ninwashui and I were just starting to get back into Clix. Once I found out this figure existed, I knew I had to have it to complete my Sentry collection. So I was predisposed to like this piece. But there’s more to it than that. On a pure design level, Sentry and Void was a masterpiece.
Now, Heroclix has always had expensive tentpoles, including other 300 point “One Man Army” pieces. In the early days of Heroclix, high-pointed pieces were generally overpowered. As people got more sophisticated with army builds and tactical strategy, these larger point pieces sort of fell out of favor. Hell, even today there’s a post-Kyle-Rayner-WOL-LE unofficial rule that you shouldn’t try any piece in the Meta that costs more than 150 points (and Kyle has been out of rotation for a few years now).
But back in 2012, Sentry and Void was a 300 point piece that actually had teeth! Power Cosmic, the Multi-Attack ability and top dial Hypersonic Speed solved many of the issues that made other high-cost pieces not viable in the Meta. To wit:
–With Power Cosmic, “Sentroid” could not be Outwitted, so you could just about always count on being able to take the action you wanted to take on your next turn without worrying that, say, your move-and-attack power would be nullified by some 30 point support piece.
–The inherent Willpower from PC and the Multi-Attack ability went a looooong way towards keeping this piece from being hopelessly out-actioned by the opposing force, a common problem for other behemoths.
–And Hypersonic Speed and Flight meant that Sentry and the Void didn’t have any of the mobility issues that slowed other high-cost pieces.
Sentry and Void also had an interesting Trait that allowed you to sub in a different version of either The Sentry or The Void (kind of a clunky precursor to “Shifting Focus”) for additional battlefield flexibility and a mid-dial Movement Special Power (ASGARD MUST FALL: Once per game, give Sentry and Void a double power action. For the rest of the game even if this power is lost elevated terrain is considered grounded hindering terrain. Deal Sentry and Void and each character occupying elevated terrain 1 unavoidable damage.) that essentially allowed you to level the Map if you got stuck in a disadvantageous terrain position on the Map.
Having said all that, Sentry and Void did have a few weaknesses as well, beyond the obvious weakness of only having one figure make up your entire army.
–No Improved Targeting meant that despite Sentry and Void’s awesome Range (11), they still had to run up to anyone in hidden in Stealth, which could sometimes leave them in a slightly vulnerable position given that their Movement Speed was only 10, which was actually on the low-end for Hypersonic Speed figures.
–A top dial 11 Attack was fine, but hardly gamebreaking, and left Sentry and Void severely vulnerable to forces that had fielded multiple sources of Probability Control and–to a lesser extent–Perplex.
This left Sentry and Void in a spot where it was viable in the 300 point Meta, but hardly dominant.
What Can Be Learned From Sentry and Void: In an era of where it seems like even Thor is getting multiple 50 and 75-point representations, I was worried that we’d never see a serious 300 point OMA ever again. But The Might Thor set from last August and the Avengers: Infinity expansion from May brought us a lot of great high-point and Colossal figures.
Still, I think Carnage from TMT might be the closest they’ve gotten to a viable 300 point piece (the jury’s still out on 300 Point Tri-Sentinel and 300 Point Starro). I really want to see Wizkids give us a viable 300 Point piece that kind of lands right in that “Goldilocks” design sweet spot of not overpowered, not underpowered, but just right for the competitive scene.
2. WF066R Spectre — 35 Points — Chase:
Why This Piece: Really, this could be almost any of the KC “Tower Mode” pieces; I just chose the Spectre because he was my favorite.
But this whole series of pieces was a home run that has paid dividends over multiple sets (we seem to get new KC pieces every year as Con Exclusives, and two more showed up in last year’s “Elseworlds” expansion!).
35 Points for one Click is expensive, but his Damage Special (I SET THIS WORLD ON A DIFFERENT PATH: Spectre can use Probability Control to target a character regardless of line of fire.) is potentially game-altering if not dealt with promptly. He has great Defense (18 with ES/D plus the KC and Mystics TA) for his cost as well.
As a cherry on top, this is his SECOND dial; he has a whole main dial if you’d rather use him that way.
All in all, a ton of value.
What Can Be Learned From Spectre: WizKids has a history of releasing broken Chase figures (usually from the DC universe) that just oppress the Meta from the first day they’re released (Lydea Mallor; just about every Entity from WOL).
The KC Chases didn’t do that. Oh, they were powerful as hell, and certainly viable in some Meta Builds, but they weren’t “must-haves” for folks who want to play competitively (or even folks who were just trying to keep up with the Joneses at their FLGS).
I can’t think of another Sub-Theme of Chases and/or Primes that walked that “Goldilocks” tightrope of being useful and popular and yet not gamebreaking. The fact that these characters come from one of the most popular DC graphic novels of all-time also helps.
I would like to see more Chase Sub-Themes like this. Figures that are playable in so many different Builds. I pulled a Chase Raphael on a skateboard at the last Turtles release we did. Awesome! Except I haven’t really been able to find the right build to field him since then.
But if you lucked into one of the KC pieces, you were excited not just because you pulled a rare piece that was gonna be worth some money; you knew that you were going to be able to play that piece again and again and again (I can’t tell you how many “Mystical” theme teams I’ve rounded out with this Spectre. Suffice to say: a lot!).
The recent “Superfriends” Chase theme from BTAS is the closest I think Wizkids has gotten to finding another evergreen Chase/Con Ex sub-theme that excites fans, but even with those pieces most people are fielding them exclusively in their Sideboard, which can be really annoying. But that’s another discussion for another day.
1. DP053A Speed Demon — 110 Points — Super Rare:
Why This Piece: And now we come to my favorite piece of all-time! I used this guy probably more than any other piece I own. He’s the reason I still love running Sinister Syndicate teams to this day.
I’m gonna repeat myself again here, but it’s all about the design, design, DESIGN!!
Speed Demon was incredibly useful not just because of his whole dial Hypersonic Speed, but also because of his ridiculously awesome, unique 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.).
This Trait was sooooo good that I thought it would be repeated ad nauseam in the Flash set that had been announced for later that year.
Nope. They never used it again.
But that Trait was a silver bullet against so many turtle strategies and adjacency-based squads.
He was certainly beatable. Only six clicks with an average 17 Defense from range and no Outwit protection of any kind. And at 110 points, you were paying close to a Primary Attacker cost for a Secondary piece. But he was able to wreak so much havoc on the opponent’s gameplan that he was worth his points and then some.
What Can Be Learned From Speed Demon: Really, it’s that we need more creative Traits like “Speed Cyclone Uplift” in the game. I would love it if we got back to figure designs with characters that had powers that forced your opponent to adapt to on the fly (in other words, pieces that force your opponent to actually PLAY THE GAME WITH YOU), rather than pieces that are just there to facilitate the next Call-In card use.
Wow! I thought this subject would be 500 words and out, but I guess I got a little carried away. 1700 words later, here we are.
Who are your favorite Golden Age pieces?
Sound off in the Comments below, and then meet us back here on Monday for the Fourth Night of Clix-Mas!!