Heat Check: Caller ID!! (Or, The Top Three ID Card Call-Ins at Every Point Level Right Now!!) (Or Or, The 5th Night of Clix-Mas!!)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, we are shamelessly unleashing the 12 Nights of Clix-Mas! Tonight is Night 5! If you missed The First Night of Clix-Mas, you can catch up right here! Night 2 is here. Night 3 is here, and you can find the 4th Night of Clix-Mas by clicking here.]

Spidey ID

So in my Mirror Master Team Build article, I lamented the fact that nowhere online does there exist a list showing  all 329 possible character Call-Ins available in Modern Age play from the 56 currently available ID cards (we’ll cross the Justice League ID Card bridge when we come to it).

What? How did I know that there are 329 possible Call-Ins? Because I just finished building that list!

So before I get to actually publishing said list, as a special 12 Nights of Clix-Mas treat, I’d like share with you now the Top 3 Call-Ins in Modern Age at each 50 point interval (from 50 to 300)!

The Top 3 Call-Ins in the 1 to 50 Point Range:

Looks like something else just called-in Jemma...

Looks like something else just called-in Jemma…

  1. FFNFAOS005 Simmons 50 PointsCalled-In via NFAOSNFID-007 S.H.I.E.L.D. Level 7: If you call Jemma in with her ID card, she has Outwit and can give the person who called her in another yet another use of Outwit. She also has the S.H.I.E.L.D. Team Ability and the FIELD TEAM BACKUP ability if you are using her with other Field Team members. Since she is called in via the Level 7 card, she also gives anyone next to her the S.H.I.E.L.D. TA and modifies their Attack Value by +1 when making a ranged combat attack.

  2. NFAOS014B Hydra Agent H 30 Points — Called-In via NFAOSNFID-008 S.H.I.E.L.D. Level 1: She has 7 Range, 10 Attack and Ranged Combat Expert. She has both the Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. TA’s and the combination of the ID card and her Trait means that she shares those two TA’s with whomever is next to her. Plus, at 30 points, she can be called in by almost anyone (including WOL099 Despotellis).

  3. AOU204E Yellowjacket — 50 Points — Called-In via FFOAAUID-100 Hank Pym: Yellowjacket is capable of dealing Penetrating Damage in both close and ranged combat situations with automatic Knockback from Force Blast. In addition, when he comes into play you get a free AOUB001 Ant Swarm Bystander Token that stays in play even after Yellowjacket is removed from the game. The Hank Pym ID Card also gives the following Inspiration: “Modify range value by +3 when using Outwit or Perplex. Modify defense value by +3 when attacked by an opposing character with the Robot keyword.” The Robot clause is obviously situational, but the stipulation-less Range boost to Outwit and Perplex can really catch your opponent by surprise.

The Top 3 Call-Ins in the 51 to 100 Point Range:

3D Man AVAS

  1. AVAS013B 3-D Man — 90 Points — Called-In via AVASAVID-015 Triathlon I could continue to beat this drum and describe to you again why this is possibly the best ID Card character out there, but I already did that once in my Avengers Assemble top 10 article.

  2.  GOTG031 Nova — 60 Points — Called-In via AVASAVID-007 Nova: His dial is 60 points so you will likely have 2 or 3 characters on a 300 point team that can call him in. And when they do, you’ll have one of the best Pulse Wave pieces in the game. He’s only got a 10 attack, but unlike everyone else in the game when he uses Pulse Wave he does 2 damage (not just 1) to everyone he hits when he targets more than one character. We all know Pulse Wave is the game’s strongest basic power, so access to an improved version of it at a crucial point in the game for just 5 points seems like a great deal to me.

  3. AOU020 Captain America — 65 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-103 Captain America: He’s a great character to play as well as Call-In. His Special Mmovement Power states, “CAP’S MOTORCYCLE: Captain America can use Defend and has “transporter boot speed symbol”. He doesn’t modify his attack value by -2 from the Move and Attack ability.” On the defensive side, his Trait says “TAKE COVER!: Adjacent friendly characters modify their defense values by +1 against ranged combat attacks, if not already modified by this effect.” Just to review, he has 17 Defense with Defend, his ID card grants ESD to all adjacent figures, and his trait grants +1 versus ranged attacks. Taken together that means that any character standing next to him that turn will have a minimum 20 Defense against ranged attacks.

The Top 3 Call-Ins in the 101 to 150 Point Range:

Nick Fury Original Sin

  1. NFAOS056 Nick Fury — 120 Points — Called-In via NFAOSNFID-007 S.H.I.E.L.D. Level 7: As recent ROC results are starting to show, NFAOS056 Nick Fury is the probably the most powerful figure in the game right now (just like I predicted he would be in my Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Top Ten article). Calling him in as a 5 point ID character practically guarantees that he will put a 4-damage-sized hole into your opponent’s most costly figure, and he can do that while shooting through Elevated Terrain, Hindering Terrain and/or characters from 9 spaces away. If you aren’t playing Nick Fury on your team, then there is almost no excuse to not run him as an ID character.

  2. AOU047E Quasar — 125 Points — Called-In via NFAOSNFID-004 Quasar: If an opposing figure is closing in then you can use Quasar’s Pulse Wave, but the real selling point with him is when you target a single opponent. Assuming you hit, you can completely block off your opponent with “CONTAIN STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE: When Quasar targets and damages a single opposing character, after action resolve, he can use Barrier as a free action, but may only place blocking terrain markers adjacent to the hit character.” As an added bonus Quasar’s inspiration also gives adjacent characters telekinesis.

  3. NFAOS051 Steve Rogers — 150 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-103 Captain America: He’s not the most damaging attacker with only three base Damage and double target Energy Explosion, but what he is good for is all of the support he can give to other ranged attackers around him. If he hits with his attack (he has a 12 Attack Value), then all other friendly attackers can use Probability Control on their own rolls. He also has Enhancement and the S.H.I.E.L.D. TA. Best of all, on defense he gives everyone Energy Shield/Deflection.

The Top 3 Call Ins in the 151 to 200 Point Range:

War Machine

  1. AOU26 War Machine200 Points — Called-In via NFAOSNFID-010 War Machine: War Machine’s major weakness when played in an army is his lack of Willpower. Thankfully that’s not a problem with ID Card characters. His VARIABLE THREAT RESPONSE power allows you to choose Psychic Blast, Pulse Wave, Precision Strike, or Triple target Energy Explosion! In addition,he ignores Hindering Terrain and if he is attacking more than one character at range, he can use Probability Control.

  2. AOU018 Thor  — 200 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-104 Thor: Thor has double ranged targets and the following power: “GOD OF THUNDER: Thor can use Energy Explosion, when he does, damage dealt is penetrating damage.” He also ignores Hindering Terrain for targeting. But, the real reason to use him is “FOR MY HEART BELONGS TO THEE: Once per game, give Thor a free action and place a Jane Foster bystander token as described on this card into an adjacent square.

  3. AVX104 Phoenixbuster Iron Man –175 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-101 Iron Man: This guy has a great power, “HERE GOES NUTHIN’: Phoenixbuster Iron Man’s attacks deal penetrating damage if the target character is assigned a relic or a resource or possesses any of the following: “Giant damage symbol”, “Colossal damage symbol”, the Power Cosmic team ability, the Cosmic or Phoenix Force keyword, or the word Phoenix in its name as a separate word.” As a backup plan he has Running Shot and Pulse Wave, which, historically speaking, is a damn good backup plan.

The Top 3 Call-Ins in the 201 to 250 Point Range:

Hercules

  1. AOU033 Hercules — 220 Points — Called-In via AVASAVID-004 Hercules: There are two great reasons to choose Hercules. The first is his offense, “IF IT IS BATTLE YOU CRAVE, HERCULES SHALL OBLIGE!: Hercules can use Charge, Flurry, and Improved Movement: Ignores Hindering Terrain, Ignores blocking terrain and destroys blocking terrain as the character moves through it.” “Oh, you thought you were safe from my team because you were hiding behind two-square-thick Blocking Terrain? I think not, scoundrel!” The second is his ability to tie up and weaken the opposing team with “GRAPPLING THE LERNAEAN HYDRA: Hercules can use Plasticity. Each opposing character adjacent to Hercules modifies its attack and damage values by -1 if it has any action tokens.” If you put Hercules next to the opposing army, they will likely just have to pass that next turn. And dead turns for your opponent = victory for you.
  2.  AVAS053A Thor — 228 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-104 Thor: I picked this character in this point range because of his great ability to deal damage with Pulse Wave. In addition, he also has some great support with Enhancement and the ability to grant adjacent Avengers Energy Explosion.
  3. AAOU001 Iron Man — 250 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-101 Iron Man: Iron Man has Avengers Initiative TA, Outwit, 12 Attack and Precision Strike. If you end up hitting an opposing figure, you also get to use his Trait: “AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!: When Iron Man hits one or more characters with an attack and actions resolve, the opposing player chooses: You place a friendly AAOU #002 Iron Legion from outside the game into your starting area or, modify the defense value of your friendly characters by +1 until your next turn.

The Top 3 Call-Ins in the 251 to 300 Point Range:

MCU Hulk

  1. AAOU008 Hulk — 300 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-102 Hulk: With 6 Damage, 13 Attack, Charge and Super Strength, Hulk can deal up to 9 damage in a single hit! With raw stats like that he doesn’t need any other reasons to be on this list. Sadly you won’t be able to call him in during a 300 point game.

  2. WXM058 Namor — 295 Points — Called-In via WKMVID-006 Namor: Namor is the highest point level character possible to call in for a 300 point game. He has 12 Attack, 5 Damage, and a Trait “PHOENIX FIVE: Opposing characters targeted by friendly characters with the Phoenix Force keyword subtract 1 from their d6 roll when using Impervious, Shape Change, or Super Senses.

  3. IIM043 Iron Man and War Machine — 265 Points — Called-In via AOUAUID-101 Iron Man: This figure has 11 Attack, 4 Damage, triple target Energy Explosion, and–most importantly–Duo Attack!

That’s it for this article. I am going to see about getting my ID Card Call-In list published online and I’ll let everyone know about THAT… a little later.

 

 

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Heat Check: Wordplay!! (Or, The Top Ten Named Keywords in Modern Age… Right Now!! PART TWO!!)

Kingdom Come Roundtable

 

Hello again! We’re back for Part 2 of our countdown of the best 10 Named Keywords in Modern Age… RIGHT NOW!!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: If you missed numbers 10-6 and want to catch up, click here!]

 

Lego Thunderbolts

5. Thunderbolts

We Are Legion!: 32 pieces with 37 different dials (Man-Thing alone has 3!).

Uncle Sam Wants You!: None that I am aware of.

Also Known As: Yup. And, just like the Heroes for Hire ATA, it costs 8 points per character and it’s pretty awesome. Basically, at the beginning of the game, you choose any other Marvel TA (that’s not an ATA, Wild Card TA or an uncopyable TA), and everyone with the Thunderbolts keyword on your team gets that Team Ability. In most cases, this means that you’re choosing Mystics or Avengers Initiative, but you don’t have to decide until the game begins, which means you can scope out your opponent’s team and choose the TA that will be most helpful.

Is your opponent playing some short-dialed pieces that hit hard? Choose Mystics. Are you playing against a Batman Family theme team? Choose Avengers TA. Are you playing a Punisher or Deadpool-led ranged attacking team? Maybe Hydra or S.H.I.E.L.D. will do the trick. Do you want everyone on your team to have Phasing/Teleport? Well… you can’t. Cuz Serpent Society is no longer an official Team Ability–like Morlocks, it is now an ATA and, thusly, sadly ineligible to be copied. All of which just goes to prove my theory: Germans love David Hasselhoff WizKids hates the Serpent Society!

Working Together!: No team base, although, oddly, several of their pieces (Red Hulk, Deadpool) fit on the Avengers Team Base.

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: None.

Straight, With Chaser: None.

Shadow of the Colossus: None (Sheessh! How ’bout some more Thunderbolts love, WizKids? We need a Colossal Atlas! Well, not really… ).

Micro Machines: A lot of great pieces under 100 Points, but only 1 dial that qualifies for this: Fast Forces Rookie Mercy, who clocks in at an even 50 Points.

Who Let You In?!: Has to be Kuurth, from Fear Itself. Sure the Juggernaut was a member of the Thunderbolts, but I don’t remember too much Thunderboltin’ around by ol’ Juggs when he was the thrall of the Serpent! Weird that this version of Juggernaut would have the Thunderbolts keyword.

Why Thunderbolts Is #5: Cuz I like them just a tiny bit better than Heroes for Hire, a group with which they share a good many key members. But after the HfH ATA nerf, you’re usually better off playing most of these pieces as Thunderbolts. Plus, you gain access to some Meta pieces like Bullseye, who’s tough to play on a Modern Age Themed Team any other way now that Entities have been nerfed (unless you want to team him with Convention Exclusive Moonstone, M10 Green Goblin or–nope, that’s it. Those are ALL your Modern Age Dark Avengers choices.).

Having played some of these pieces recently, both the Fast Forces and main set version of Elektra that we got in Deadpool were great, and Venom and Deadpool himself have their uses, but holy gawd is the main set Punisher good. Just playing him for 100 Points is a good move, but playing him on a Themed Team that allows you to give him Avengers Initiative for 8 measly point turns him into an absolutely remorseless killing machine.

Which, I suppose, is comic accurate.

Must Have Pieces: Speed Demon, Bullseye, Deadpool Fast Forces Mercy, Deadpool Main Set Punisher–hell, pretty much all of the Deadpool set.

 

Lego X-Men

4. X-Men

We Are Legion!: Whoa! 110 figures with over 134 dials between them!! Holy Schnikes, That’s even more than the Avengers.

Uncle Sam Wants You!: No recruiter, although with a roster list that long, they don’t need one.

Also Known As: Until very recently, none. Now? 3 different ones from which to choose: X-Men: Gold, X-Men: Blue & X-Men (Utopia). They’re all kind of utilitarian (they all kind of revolve around positioning and or Leadership), and each one seems to work much better if you have some version of Cyclops on your team. If you want to play a non-Cyclops X-Men Themed Team, maybe don’t worry so much about the ATA’s…

Working Together!: Wow. Not 1 Team Base… not 2… how about 3 FREAKING TEAM BASES!! Good Lord! And if New Mutants wasn’t a keyword in and of itself, they’d have 4!

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: Yup! 2. I bet you remember good ol’ Vampire Jubilee from Wolverine and the X-Men; what you may have forgotten is that the Magneto Prime from that very same set (the Rare Prime) ALSO has the X-Men keyword.

Straight, With Chaser: 6. The Phoenix Five Chases from WXM and… Skrull Wolverine from M10!! In larger point games, the Phoenix Five start to get really broken really quickly. In 300 Point games, Rookie Magik is probably your best bet at 150 Points.

Shadow of the Colossus: Dark Phoenix Cyclops, the Grand Prize from AVX! He can be played at 3 different point levels; his 300 Point level is okay, but his 750 Point level and 1000 Point level are especially deadly.

Micro Machines: Four different members are 50 Points or less, including Prime Jubilee and Moira MacTaggert, one of the best healers in the game!

Who Let You In?!: Pretty solid roster, actually, but I’m gonna go with Husk. While she was certainly part of the official X-Men roster for awhile, she always took a back seat to her brother (Cannonball) in terms of notoriety, and her powers were just plain weird (she basically has the power to shed dead skin like a snake, which, um, allows her to, uh, do stuff). You could almost tell that the writers didn’t know what to do with her either, since they eventually just had her go crazy and, then, when she finally got better, they just had her go away.

Why X-Men Is #4: Because, right now, they have pretty much the largest roster in the game. You can go so many different ways with them and still be competitive. Plus, with so many versions, you can probably play your favorite roster and still be squarely in the Modern Age.

People always talk about the great Avengers pieces we got in AVX, but the X-Men did just as well! And Banshee (my #1 Figure from Deadpool) is ridiculously good for his points.

Must Have Pieces: Banshee is a Meta stud, Prime Jubilee, Gambit can fuel some shenanigans, AVX Cyclops, AVX Magneto, Dark Phoenix, Dark Phoenix Cyclops, DoFP Moira MacTaggert.

 

Lego SHIELD

3. S.H.I.E.L.D.

We Are Legion!: 47 pieces with 51 different dials. This is a sneaky big roster!

Uncle Sam Wants You!: Yes, of a sort. G.W. Bridge will add any character of 150 Points or less to an already existing force of five, provided that the first five characters all share a keyword. In 300 Point games, that’s pretty much gonna be either Soldier or S.H.I.E.L.D., but this Trait starts to get real interesting in larger point games.

Also Known As: Yup! It extends the minimum Range of Outwit, Perplex and Probability Control for just 3 Points per character. It’s incredibly useful, since S.H.I.E.L.D. characters almost always have at least one of those abilities.

Working Together!: No team base.

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: You betcha! Remember Brother Voodoo? Yup. He’s also got the S.H.I.E.L.D. keyword. Along with Deathlok Prime (heavy hitter from range) and War Machine Prime (heavy hitter from, well, everywhere).

Straight, With Chaser: 2 Chases. The aforementioned Captain America and Black Widow Chase from CATWS, and the, uh, also aforementioned Captain America Skrull Chase from M10.

Shadow of the Colossus: Currently none, but if and when WizKids ever wises up and creates an actual Helicarrier vehicle piece…

Micro Machines: 4. A S.H.I.E.L.D. Soldier. 2 different Agents and Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales) from ASM.

Who Let You In?!: As much as I love the character, since when is Sleepwalker an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Why S.H.I.E.L.D. Is #3: Because S.H.I.E.L.D. teams are some of the most effective teams out there, and they cater to a bunch of different play styles. From big bruisers like Iron Man 001 to War Machine Prime, to smaller, tricky pieces like Brother Voodoo and Agent Sitwell.

Speaking of the agents themselves, each one brings a different set of skills to your team. Sitwell offers a Power Action group Perplex and Sidestep to adjacent characters; Agent 13 can cancel any defensive powers used by adjacent opposing characters; Black Widow can steal opposing Themed Team Probs; Nick Fury can steal the placement of opposing objects; Maria Hill can Outwit opposing characters from across the board (under certain circumstances). And so on.

Beyond the fact that many of these figures are not only fun to play but also tourney tested, you’ll find some of the more unique powers in the game belong to pieces with the S.H.I.E.L.D. keyword.

Must Have Pieces: Brother Voodoo, Captain America and Black Widow, Agent Sitwell, Agent 13, M10 Iron Man, Living Mummy.

 

Lego Justice League

2. Justice League

We Are Legion!: 80 separate characters with 111 different dials!

Uncle Sam Wants You!: No recruiter.

Also Known As: 4 separate ATA’s, although Justice League Dark is kinda obsolete (and was only “okay” to begin with).

“Justice League” is actually kind of sneaky good; for a measly 1 Point per character, it pumps up member defenses by +1 whenever they’re attacked by a character with the Wing, Sharpshooter, Indomitable or Giant combat symbols (just think about how many Meta pieces have one of those symbols for a second–almost all of them will have either Wing or Indomitable).

Working Together!: Yup! It was the original OP Team Base that dominated the tourney scene. It’s a bit obsolete now, but really only because we’re just coming off of a ROC season that banned Team Bases.

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: 2. Dark Flash and The Caped Crusader. Dark Flash is perfectly respectable for his points; The Caped Crusader has seen some tourney play.

Straight, With Chaser: While there is a metric poop-ton of Super Rares on the roster, there isn’t actually a Chase piece.

Shadow of the Colossus: Believe it or not, none (The Bug is a “Giant” figure and Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet–a FREAKING JET, mind you–is considered to be normal-sized.

Micro Machines: 4. Crime Syndicate Fast Forces Atomica, Oracle, Rookie Batgirl… and Autopilot Invisible Jet. By the way… 50 Point Autopilot Invisible Jet HAS 10 CLICKS!! Sure, you say, but it’s just a glorified taxi. Uh, Invisible Jet has Pulse Wave on its last 4 Clicks (Range is 6) and a 10 Attack Value on its last 4! Whaaa… ? For 50 Points? How has this not been used more?

Who Let You In?!: I gotta be honest, I never really “got” Geo-Force. I know he has a 35 year history at this point, but I’ve never thought to myself, “Man, I really want to build a Justice League team from the Ge0-Force era!” I mean, even among his fans, he’s thought of more as an Outsider, no?

Why Justice League Is #2: Because there is elite-level quality all up and down their roster. Yeah, most of that quality is named Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, but so what? Each of those characters has no less than 3 awesome versions in Modern right now (actually, those Tab-App figures weren’t bad either–maybe that should be 4 awesome versions!).

Justice League: Trinity War alone added a 5-star Batman and a 5-star Superman. With the addition of Ultra-Heavy objects to the game, Trinity War Veteran Superman can Hypersonic 12 spaces across the board and potentially deal 8 freaking damage! And he’s backed up by a 19 Impervious. A dial like this probably would have cost 300-350 Points as recently as two years ago, but somehow WizKids thinks he’s fair at 250. I’m not saying Supes will destroy the tourney scene (figures who cost more than 200 Points and are not named “Sentry and Void” tend not to do so well at tournaments), but even with his high cost he is a VALUE for his points. Batman is probably even better (we’ll talk more in depth about both these pieces in our JL:TW Top Ten Set review).

But beyond the Trinity, Justice League has access to really special pieces like JL:TW Lex Luthor, that Team Base, and much more. Big point games simply allow you to use your pieces at full strength, but even in 300 Point games, this keyword is very competitive.

Must Have Pieces: Team Base, JL:TW Batman, JL:TW Superman, Fast Forces Atomica, JL:TW Lex Luthor, Elongated Man and The Flash from Flash.

 

Lego Green Lantern Corps

1. Green Lantern Corps

We Are Legion!: 32 different characters featuring 36 different dials.

Uncle Sam Wants You!: Yup–Ion is a Possessor, so you can induct any Modern Age character you want into the Corps (I’d suggest Speed Demon, but then I always suggest Speed Demon for everything).

Also Known As: 1 ATA, The Green Lantern Honor Guard. At 5 Points per member, it’s actually a pretty expensive and very situational +1 buff to Attack Value.

Working Together!: No Team Base. This could change in the future, as I’m sure fans will clamor for it, but that’s assuming that WizKids even makes Team Bases in the future.

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: Oh, they’ve got Primes. 4 to be exact. Laira Prime was one of the key pieces on the 2014 World Championship winning team, and she’s maybe the THIRD best prime with the keyword. Abin Sur and Tomar Tu are both better; regardless, all FOUR GLC Primes can use the extremely awesome “CONSTRUCT” Trait.

Straight, With Chaser: Ion is the lone Chase, but during his peak, he was going for over $200–he’s that good. As a Possessor, that is.

Shadow of the Colossus: None.

Micro Machines: 2 besides Ion when used as a Possessor. Green Lantern Recruit is pretty good; Abin Sur Prime is probably the best 50 Piece in Modern (although that’s deceiving, since you need to add another 8-10 Points for his Construct Trait).

Who Let You In?!: It’s not that they shouldn’t have made Simon Baz; his WOL LE was great! I just don’t need another, frankly inferior Simon Baz just two sets later.

Why Green Lantern Corps Has to Be #1: Because no other keyword has put more pieces in more high level tournament Top 8’s (ROC, World Championship, etc.). LE Kyle Rayner is almost silly he’s so good. All the WOL Primes are great; Abin Sur and Tomar Tu are ridiculously effective for their points.

The fact that the CONSTRUCT Trait is so good is really what powers their success, especially in ROC tourneys. And they have no less than 11 different pieces that can use that Trait!

Even in tournaments where Resources are allowed, the Green Power Battery interacts so well with their keyword that almost any GLC figure will be able to punch above its weight with ease. If you’re rolling into a major tournament, you better have a plan for dealing with the Corps!

Must Have Pieces: Ion, LE Kyle Rayner, Abin Sur, Tomar Tu, Laira, Parallax (Hal Jordan).

 

JUST MISSED THE CUT: Justice League of America (too top heavy–lots of quality from the best pieces, but that quality thins out pretty quickly); Justice League Dark (John Constantine is awesome, and the pieces all have synergy with each other, but the roster is simply too thin right now. There’s really only a few different ways to go if you want to be even mildly competitive. Now, if you just want to play some cool figures and have a lot of fun, they’re aces!); Kree (just missed out–again, a lot of synergy, and it’s overflowing with really good Ronan pieces from the GotG Movie Set).

 

So, there ya go! Those are your Top 10 Named Keywords in Modern Age… RIGHT NOW!! Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the Comments below!

And look for our Justice League: Top 10 Set Review and Second Opinion articles coming later this month!

Heat Check: Wordplay!! (Or, The Top Ten Named Keywords in Modern Age… Right Now–PART ONE!!)

50 Greatest Avengers

Hello again, and welcome to a very special day at Critical Missives! We’re introducing a new recurring column gimmick! It’s called “Heat Check,” and we’re going to use this space to count down the Top Ten versions of various Heroclix game elements.

Today, as we start to analyze where the game is at now that Justice League: Trinity War has released, we’re going to take a look at the best Named keywords in Modern Age play right now. Why? Well, first, because it’s always fun to rank stuff in a blog post, and second, these rankings may help you decide what team you want to play the next time you’re getting ready for a game at your local venue–or at least give you a hint as to which Named Themed Team keywords you might run into at your next event!

We’re going to judge keywords based on a bunch of different criteria:

We Are Legion!: This one’s pretty straightforward. This is just the total number of available characters.  The higher the number of total characters, the more options you have for team building.

Uncle Sam Wants You!: This is basically asking if there’s a recruiter–that is to say, is there any way for the keyword to pull characters without the keyword into your army while still keeping Theme. Which is a complicated way of asking if there’s someone like Amanda Waller, G.W. Bridge, Duhg, etc. who has a Trait that gives a certain Named keyword to a character who doesn’t have it during army construction. Recruiters obviously open up your options quite a bit; not every Named keyword is going to have a Recruiter–most don’t–but those that do definitely have a leg up when it comes to being able to construct a competitive team for just about any gametype.

Also Known As: Is there an available ATA? This is a big one. There’s some really great ATA’s out there, and some Named keywords even have access to more than one! The presence of an ATA can vastly increase the effectiveness of your team in many cases.

Working Together!: Does this keyword have access to a Team Base? If you haven’t heard, these things are stupidly good. The presence of a Team Base also means that the keyword can support larger game types as well.

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: Prime characters are usually ridiculously efficient for their points. That’s why (in all but one case) you can only play one per Build. If a Named keyword doesn’t have access to at least one Prime character, they’re gonna have to work a little harder to be as effective in a competitive environment. If they have MORE than one Prime to choose from, um… damn. That usually doesn’t happen… Usually.

Straight, With Chaser: Chases are cool. But, more relevant to our purposes here, Chases are usually really effective (much less consistently than Primes, and they’re not intended to be equivalently as good, but still), primarily because they often all share at least one really good Trait (if not more) that’s often synergistic (for example, the Z-Virus Traits on the Zombie Chases from Deadpool and Guardians). Plus, they’re just that little extra bit of fun to play. If a Named keyword has access to one or more Chase characters, again, this will only give you more options while building your squad.

Shadow of the Colossus: Like Team Bases, Colossal characters are just fun as hell to play, and often overpowered (just by their very nature). Most venues only allow them for certain gametypes. Still, the presence of a Colossal within the pool of available figures often means that the Named keyword can field not just a great 300 Point team, but great teams at point levels up to 1000 and beyond for those weeks your venue is running an epic clash.

Micro Machines: The other end of the spectrum; if your putting a team together for a micro game (200 or less), does this keyword have enough good figures to make a team? Also, a larger number of smaller character would indicate that this keyword has a lot of supporting characters to choose from. Another sign of overall versatility.

Who Let You In?!: Our pick for the least likeliest figure in Modern that ACTUALLY has the keyword.

 

So, with all that said, let’s count ’em down, Dave Letterman-style!!

Here are your TOP TEN KEYWORDS IN MODERN AGE.. RIGHT NOW!!

 

Marvel ZOmbies Villains

10. Z-Virus

We Are Legion!: Pretty darn small roster, actually. 18 distinct characters with 20 different dials (17 figures plus a 3-dial Team Base). But Z-Virus makes up for its small quantity with a high amount of quality!

Uncle Sam Wants You!: In short, no, although all but two Z-Virus characters (everyone but Headpool and the Team Base) can resurrect opposing characters that they KO as new teammates, which I suppose is a roundabout way of recruiting, no? Still, this won’t help you during army construction, which is what this category is really about.

Also Known As: No ATA. Frankly, they don’t need one.

Working Together!: They do have a Team Base, and it’s pretty damn good!

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: No Primes, but…

Straight, With Chaser: … they have access to 16 DIFFERENT CHASE PIECES!! Only Headpool (Common) and the Team Base (LE) aren’t Chases. As mentioned before, all the Chase Z-Virus characters have Improved Movement: Ignores Characters AND the same two Traits in common: ZOMBIE HUNGER: When Super Skrull damages an opposing character, place a Food token on this card if there are less than 5 Food tokens. When Super Skrull would be KO’d by an opponent’s attack, turn to its first KO click, remove all Food tokens from this card, and heal it that many clicks AS WELL AS ZOMBIE INFECTION: When Super Skrull damages an opposing character, give that character a Virus token if it has less than 5 Virus tokens. When an opposing character is KO’d by this character, you may add it to your force, turn to its first KO click, remove all of its Virus tokens and heal it that many clicks.

This makes almost every character with this keyword hard as heck to kill with any finality.

Shadow of the Colossus: Shockingly, Zombie Galactus does NOT have the Z-Virus keyword. Ninwashui and I often “House Rule” him to have it; regardless, he still has the Monster keyword so he can make a generic Themed Team with any of the Z-Virus characters. Still, this really hurts–very annoying, WizKids!

Micro Machines: Not so much. Only Headpool at 38 Points is under 50, but most Zombies are actually pretty reasonably priced.

Who Let You In?!: Has got to go to GOTG061 Skrull. The Zombie Villain no one was asking for. It’s the only Zombie Chase that isn’t Unique. Even Wizkids is like, “Naw, man, go ahead and play as many as you want. Trust us, it’s not to your advantage.” For so many reasons, this should have been Zombie Thanos.

Why Z-Virus Is #10: Because of their innovative Zombie mechanics, these guys are a blast to play. The Team Base is much more effective to play than it is on paper. Now, outside of Headpool, it is a nightmare trying to cobble all these characters together (after a lengthy pursuit over two sets, I myself have Headpool, five of the Chases and the Team Base–basically 33% of the available Zombies. Sigh… ), but it can be worth it. Headpool, Electro and Super Skrull in particular are Meta-Worthy, with Super Skrull having headlined at least one ROC-winning squad (if not more).

Must Have Pieces: Headpool, Electro, Super Skrull.

 

LEgo Avengers

9. Avengers

We Are Legion!: Huge roster. Go spelunking for the Avengers keyword on HCRealms.com’s Units section and you’ll return 120 results!!

Uncle Sam Wants You!: No recruiter, at least not as yet, although who knows how the Avengers Round Table Resource that’s gonna hit this summer will work…

Also Known As: Yup–four different ATA’s!! The best is probably Secret Avengers (Characters using this team ability can’t be the target of an opponent’s Outwit or Perplex unless they’ve been targeted with an attack previously in the same turn. 5 Points per character.).

Working Together!: A pretty decent Team Base from AVX that offers a ton of different cast options (more than a dozen characters to choose from).

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: Yup! Invincible Iron Man gave us three–Hyperion, War Machine and Silver Centurion!

Straight, With Chaser: Just a few Chases to choose from, at least until this summer. The best is probably the Cap/Black Widow duo from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Shadow of the Colossus: At the moment, none, although Phoenixbuster Iron Man is a giant… and a giant sculpt!

Micro Machines: One pretty good one (Tony Stark from Iron Man 3 is exactly 50 Points) and NOTHING ELSE. Wow!

Who Let You In?!: Gonna go with wkM-012 Firestar. I remember the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon fondly from my youth; never thought I’d see those characters made into ‘Clix with Avengers keywords. Crazy! I’d say the runner-up here is Mantis–I think of her more as a Guardian now.

Why Avengers Is #9: Just on sheer variety, Avengers has to be a part of this list. Man that’s a big roster! But they’ve also got some wickedly effective pieces, too. They’ve slid down to #9 because of all the quality they lost when Chaos War rotated (Hawkeye or Sentroid, anyone?), but I’d expect Avengers to be Top 3 (or better) by the time Nick Fury and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. releases this summer as there’s no fewer than THREE sets devoted to the Avengers coming out between April and May.

Most of the AvX pieces were quite solid, with Scarlet Witch being especially effective at her 100 Point level, but the fact is that since at least half of the Marvel Universe has been in the Avengers at some point, just about every set has a quality Avengers piece (heck, even Deadpool gave us Shang-Chi… along with a Deadpool piece that didn’t have the keyword but somehow was allowed on the Avengers Team Base!).

Must Have Pieces: AvX Scarlet Witch, Captain America and Black Widow Duo, Silver Centurion.

 

Black Lantern Lego

8. Black Lantern Corps

We Are Legion!: 17 different Modern Age characters with, like, 27 different dials.

Uncle Sam Wants You!: Yup! WOL060P Black Hand will bring any character you want over to the dark side for a measly 25 Points! Also, if you’re using the Black Lantern Resource, you can dish out the Black Lantern Corps keyword to whoever you want, but that won’t help you during force construction.

Also Known As: Uh-huh. They’ve got just one, but it’s a good’un! Only costs 1 point per character and it guarantees at least 1 click of health will be restored whenever a BLC member uses Regeneration (which, with their dials, will probably happen quite a bit)!

Working Together!: No Team Base…

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: Yes! Exactly one, and he’s awesome! Zoom, the Super Rare Prime from Flash!

Straight, With Chaser: None–even Black Hand is just a SR.

Shadow of the Colossus: Two!! Nekron and Black Lantern Anti-Monitor! Nekron is a straight Boss Battle piece (which basically means he costs a ton of points and is definitely over powered in larger games) as would be expected of the Grand Prize Piece for a 6-month long OP campaign. BLAM is great in his own right; not as powerful, but he doesn’t cost as much, either.

Micro Machines: Just 2–Black Hand (as a Possessor only, so he doesn’t really count for this) and Black Lantern Reanimate, who’s not bad for his 35 Points.

Who Let You In?!: The Modern Age BLC roster is pretty tight, so we’re gonna twist this category around and complain about who HASN’T been let in yet. The biggest no shows so far (in order of “totally egregious omission” to “would have been nice to have”) are Black Lantern versions of Elongated Man, Hawkman and Hawkgirl (these two could have even been a duo!), Martian Manhunter, Sue Dibny and Jean Loring. Now, we got a pretty good Elongated Man in Flash and a very good Hawkman in JL: TW, so theoretically you could Black Hand Possess either of those pieces and be comic accurate. BL Manhunter was also a big antagonist in “Blackest Night,” so he would have been nice to have as well. At least there’s a Brave and the Bold Golden Age version of him, so at least he isn’t as yet Un-Clix’d like Ms. Dibny and Ms. Loring.

Why Black Lantern Corps Is #8: They are just hideously effective. Playing a Black Lantern Corps team isn’t entirely dissimilar than playing a Z-Virus team–both keyword families get exponentially stronger every time you KO an opposing figure. But the fact that they have both a Recruiter (Black Hand) and TWO different Colossals to choose from means that this keyword can be a contender in almost any size game. And we haven’t even mentioned the fun that is Black Lantern Firestorm or Aquaman yet!

Must Have Pieces: Zoom Prime, Black Hand, Nekron.

 

Lego GotG

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

We Are Legion!: 29 different figures with 33 distinct dials!

Uncle Sam Wants You!: No recruiters. Bummer.

Also Known As: Two! The first basically makes team members un-Outwittable for a measly 4 Points a character. Extremely useful. The second (GotG Silver Age) is now practically useless (makes team members Wild Cards, but erases all other team abilities they possess. Which, y’know, makes being a Wild Card preeeeeeeety pointless.

Working Together!: No Team Base… this clearly needs to be remedied.

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: Surprisingly, none.

Straight, With Chaser: Two, and one’s a must have! The Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Set gave us what has to be considered one of the best Rocket Raccoons ever!

Shadow of the Colossus: None.

Micro Machines: Not one. Mantis I think is the closest at 56.

Who Let You In?!: No actual complaints here; roster is solid, with a few classic characters (Killraven!) mixed with a heavier tilt towards the modern roster (Iron Man, Angela, etc.).

Why Guardians of the Galaxy Is #7: Because there’s barely any stinkers on the roster. Even some of the common, easily available figs like Mantis and Major Victory have turned up on Top 8 winning ROC squads. You want to get up to some shenanigans? Main set Star-Lord makes every team member’s Defense value equal to the highest native Defense value possessed by a team member (hello Chase Rocket Raccoon and his 19 D!!).

If there’s a power or game mechanic you want, you’ll probably find it on one of these folks! Consistent quality.

Must Have Pieces: A bunch. Rocket Raccoon (Movie Set Chase), Star-Lord (Movie Set Starter), Major Victory, Mantis, Yondu, Star-Lord (Main set Uncommon).

 

Lego Heroes for Hire

6. Heroes for Hire

We Are Legion!: 26 characters with 27 different dials (for those keeping score at home and wondering about my math, the Colleen Wing and Misty Knight duo fig can actually be played as separate dials that distinctly represent each character, or played as a whole dial representing both as a duo piece). Also, for those wondering why I’d choose Luke Cage to headline this section when THERE IS NO MODERN AGE LUKE CAGE, well, yeah, that’s kinda my point! We need a Modern Luke Cage, dammit! (And with Avengers Assemble and Age of Ultron OP coming this year, I’m pretty sure were getting at least one, if not two or more, since we know he’ll have an ID card… )

Uncle Sam Wants You!: No recruiter.

Also Known As: Yup! Their ATA was, at one point (circa 2013) the best in the game. So good, in fact, that WizKids had to nerf it, since every tournament was being won by Ghost Rider with the HfH ATA and, well, anything else.

Working Together!: No Team Base.

Prime Time!! Prime Time!!: Two. One is a super-efficient close combatant who starts with Charge, Flurry, Stealth, Quake (with a 12 Attack!), Super Senses, CCE (and the ability to use it as a close combat action, so it pairs nicely with Charge or Flurry!) and a Trait that has a 33% chance to nerf opposing Relics and Resources if a character using one of those attacks him.

And he’s the “bad” Prime.

As good as Cat is, Brother Voodoo will go down as possibly the best Prime ever made (although we shall watch the Modern Age careers of Zoom and Captain Marvel with interest, methinks–and yes, unfortunately that was a Phantom Menace reference. Deal with it!).

Straight, With Chaser: None. Don’t really need one. That ATA turns almost any piece into a Chase-level efficient attacker!

Shadow of the Colossus: Again, none. And again, probably don’t need one.

Micro Machines: Just two–Black Cat from Deadpool and Johnny Blaze from ASM.

Who Let You In?!: So, again, just to be clear: 2 (really three, when you count the fact that you can play the Duo as separate dials) Modern Age versions of Misty Knight and Colleen Wing; 2 Modern Age versions of Black Cat; a Modern Age freakin’ Humbug… and no Modern Age Luke Cage?!?!?!?!? Suuuuuuuurrrre…

Why Heroes for Hire Is #6: Because they’re still going strong two years after they’re Modern Age reintroduction in ASM! It’s funny, everyone thinks of HfH as a ASM sub-theme, which it certainly was, but Deadpool actually gave us more than twice as many HfH figs, which really rejuvenated the keyword. Once ASM rotates out, HfH will definitely suffer, but given the roster overlap in the comics between the Avengers (who, as mentioned, have, like a bazillion sets coming this year) and the Heroes for Hire, I wouldn’t be shocked if HfH shows up on this list again in 6 months!

But you could argue that right now, they deserve to be even higher. They have Meta pieces coming out of their earholes: Ghost Rider; Speed Demon; DP Main Set Elektra; FI (White Ranger) Iron Fist; Brother Voodoo; Shang-Chi… all these pieces have made a Meta impact, whether at a ROC tourney or elsewhere.

Must Have Pieces: Pretty much the list above. Also, HfH pieces are probably the easiest to collect. Individually, there’s none that will cost more than about $20, and most are much cheaper. Kind of like the opposite of collecting Z-Virus pieces.

 

Alright! That’s the end of part one! We’ll count down all the way to number 1 in Part 2 next week! Also, later this month you can expect Ninwashui and I to give our JL: Trinity War Top Ten Set Reviews!!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part 2 is live! And you can find it right here!]