Heroclix in a Half-Shell!! (Or, Let’s Review the Ten Best Figures in TMNT!!)

Black and White Turtles

Oh man, Black & White OG Turtles? They should do these as Chases! … What’s that now?!

Goongala Goongala! And Hello Again!!

Sorry we’ve been radio silent for awhile–both Ninwashui and I have been sick puppies for most of the last 30-odd days. Ninwashui had strep throat, pinkeye, and God knows what else. I think he might’ve even turned into a werewolf at some point… I dunno. I lost track.

As for myself, I’ve had at least one sinus infection (possibly two), a terrible cough (possibly bronchitis) and I’ve produced enough mucus to sculpt a scale replica of Doop. And neither of us has fully recovered yet! Ahhhh, Spring… you can go #@$% yourself.

Annnnnyyyway, life–and Heroclix news–marches on. Wizkids released a bunch of news about some upcoming set themes, then they lost their minds for just a bit and decided to retire almost every set that didn’t come out, like, last week, and then they started previewing a bunch of cool new figures from both Uncanny X-Men (many of you probably have some of these in your hot little hands via the Pre-release tournament program or the release events going on this weekend!) AND TMNT.

The set rotation announcement really deserves its own article, so we’ll table that discussion for a moment. But since we’ve just celebrated the release of TMNT, the first non-Marvel, non-DC Modern Age set in ages (I think Street Fighter was the last such offering), we’re gonna talk about that today.

In fact, let’s talk about…

THE TEN ELEVEN BEST FIGURES IN TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES!!

Yup! Think of this as a stealthy, “mini” Top Ten article (yes, it’s still 2500+ words, but I mean, really, anything under 5000 for me still qualifies as “mini.”). The set only really has like 40 figures or so, so we’re going to skip the Honorable Mentions, and we’re only extending the Top Ten out to a Top Eleven (for me, that’s progress!). That’s right–if you want to make it into this review, you have to be Top Ten-worthy! But first, as usual…

SOME BRIEF NOTES ABOUT THE SET:

–Do you like dials under 100 Points? Do you hate Improved Targeting of any kind, especially when it’s passed out like candy at Halloween? Then this is the set for you. It plays remarkably well in Sealed formats. Outside of Krang (and oh, will we get to Krang–don’t you worry), there’s really not anything in the set that towers above everything else the way that the World’s Finest duo ran roughshod over everything in those World’s Finest release tournies. So it’s actually a pretty balanced set for Sealed.

Did you get a few Common Turtles and, like, a Foot Soldier? Don’t worry–you’re not out of it before you’ve even begun. Everything is relatively close to everything else in the set in terms of power level, with very few exceptions (again: KRANG!).

–Which leads us to our customary Power Level check. This set is nowhere near the Power Level of the stuff we just got in World’s Finest (forget the SR’s and Chases; even someone like Zatara or Mary Marvel would have their way with just about any one or even two pieces in this set at the same point level).

However… that doesn’t mean that there’s not Meta potential here. Especially since WizKids seems to be in the midst of scaling back Power Creep to, like, 2008 levels. You won’t notice it as much now, but it’ll become a little bit clearer after Guardians rotates out in, what, July? Then fast forward a year to 2017 when even more good stuff rotates out (like NFAOS, which will only be 2 years old at that point, but after the way WizKids just dumped Deadpool and GotG after the same amount of time–or even less, really–I would not be surprised to see Balls of Fury and all the rest of his rowdy, powerful friends given the heave ho), and suddenly you’ll be left with a lot of little pieces that are very efficient (and probably need to attack from up close).

Uncanny X-Men seems to be following suit with a lot of little 50-80 cost figures that are, point-for-point, the best pieces in the set. So if this is the new normal going forward, if small and efficient is the new, uh, big and efficient, well, you’re gonna want a lot of these TMNT pieces.

(And yes, I realize that World’s Finest and the big, powerful KC Chases are probably always gonna be in Modern at the same time as this Turtles set, so really, as always, forget everything I just said.)

–I really like the consistency of all the new ninja weapon Special Powers. Basically, whether it’s a Chase Turtle or a lowly Foot Clan robot, any character that uses a certain type of weapon has the same Special Power. It really adds a lot of ninja flavor to the figures.

And for the record, those five weapon Specials are:

KATANA: __X__ can use Blades/Claws/Fangs. If __X__ missed a close attack this turn, __X__ can use Sidestep.

SAI: __X__ can use Flurry. __X__ deals penetrating damage when making a close attack.

NUNCHAKUS: __X__ can use Flurry. Each time __X__ hits an opposing character, after actions resolve you may give that character an action token.

BO STAFF: All damage dealt by __X__ causes knockback. Giant Reach: 2.

CHAIN KAMA: When __X__ hits an opposing character with a range attack, after actions resolve you may place the hit character adjacent to __X__ and it can’t be moved or placed during its next turn.

I would love to see these show up even in a Marvel or DC set. Give me an Elektra with the Sai Special or a Katana from Suicide Squad with a, uh, Katana Special! I think these powers represent the effects of the weapons very well. Kudos to the Wizkids design team.

Anyway, without further ado…

April O'neil

11. TMNT019 April O’Neil30 PointsRare: Okay, this is “scientist” April as opposed to the cartoon “reporter” April, which explains the tricksy, support-y dial. Yes, her base defense stinks, even with her Special Defense Power (THEY PROTECT ME, I GIVE THEM A HOME: UNIQUE MODIFIERAs long as one or more friendly characters with the TMNT keyword or named Casey Jones are adjacent, April O’Neil and those adjacent friendly characters modify their defense values by +1.).

But the reason to spend 30 Points on April is because she’s a mobile Outwit unit who can do her job from the BACK of the pack. Her Damage Special (SKILLED PROGRAMMER: April O’Neil can use Outwit and Improved Targeting: Ignores Characters when she does.) combined with her top dial Sidestep means it will be easy to both keep her out of harm’s way AND keep her in the right position to Outwit opposing pieces, which is a very rare combination.

Splinter

10. TMNT011 Splinter40 PointsUncommon: Think of Splinter as the Toymaster of this set, only with slightly less trickery but slightly more offense. His Precision Strike is nice, but his Sidestep is actually the key to his dial.

His Trait (I HAVE TAUGHT YOU ALL I LEARNED: Splinter can use Empower. UNIQUE MODIFIER-Adjacent Friendly characters with the TMNT Keyword modify their attack values by +1.) means he needs to be adjacent to his sons to help them out, but that top dial Sidestep could allow you to boost two different Turtles in one turn even if they themselves are two to three squares away from each other (although many of the Turtles benefit from being adjacent to each other, so why are you separating them in my theoretical example?).

If you play him with some of the Turtle Chases, all of the sudden their Attack Values zoom up into the 12-13 area and they start doing 4 Damage top dial even though they’re all just 75 Points!

At that point, the trick becomes finding a way to move everyone efficiently…

Nobody Hobody

9. TMNT014 Nobody45 Points — Uncommon: Not to be confused with DC’s Mr. Nobody, clearly. He (or she, as there have been several “Nobody”‘s throughout Turtles history, although I believe this is the OG Nobody) sports a 5-Click Tertiary Attacker dial that’s just loaded with mobility and survivability–if you can get him on the right map (the “Jean Grey School for Higher Learning” Map that we just got in the Uncanny X-Men OP Kit has a plethora of walls and would be a perfect battlefield for, well, Nobody).

He ignores Elevated Terrain on movement and his Trait is just bonkers for a piece with such a low cost (SHADOWY AVENGER: Nobody can use Stealth. Nobody can’t be targeted by opposing characters if he’s adjacent to a wall.).

But that Trait just makes him hard to kill. Can your opponent just ignore him? Surprisingly, no. He has top dial Close Combat Expert, so he can pump his damage all the way to 4 if he so wishes. But even worse than that (well, worse for your opponents), Nobody has a top dial Attack Special (CAPE IN YOUR EYES: Give Nobody a power action and choose an adjacent opposing character. That character can’t make an attack during its next turn.) that can all but shutdown ANY opposing character to whom Nobody is adjacent! And since he starts with Sidestep, all you have to do is TK him to within two squares of your opponent’s Primary Attacker and all of the sudden you can attack with no fear of retaliation!

CATWS013 Agent 13 is the last piece I can think of who’s sole mission was to get adjacent to your opponent’s most important piece and stay there, but Nobody does that trick even better–and for 10 less points!!

Baxter Stockman Fly

8. TMNT030 Baxter Stockman60 PointsSuper Rare: Potentially one of the best taxis ever created–but only if you’ve constructed an army of insect-sized figures.

His Trait (FOUR ARMZZZZ: Baxter Stockman may carry up to 4 “tiny damage symbol” characters.) makes him extremely useful in a Modern Age filled with Ant-Men and Elast-Girls. Honestly, I can’t think of a time when we had more useful, viable “Tiny Size” pieces then right now.

This Baxter’s only five clicks long, and his dial alternates between Tertiary Attacker and Support piece, but his mobility and his ability to potentially transport an entire Tiny-Sized army up to 12 Squares at a time is the best reason to play him.

Baxter Stockman No Fly

7. Baxter Stockman — 30 Points — Uncommon: Potentially one of the best taxis ever cre–wait a minute, I just did a Baxter Stockman write-up! Oooooohhh, this is the “evil robotics genius” Baxter, as opposed to the freaky half-man, half-fly version.

So why is this version even better? Well, in addition to Stealth and Outwit, his Trait (I DON’T NEED ANYONE EXCEPT MY MOUSERS!: When a friendly character named Mouser is KO’ed by an opponent’s attack, roll a d6. 4-6: You may place adjacent a TMNT #005 Mouser from outside the game if no other friendly character did.) will let you flood the board with ever-reincarnating Mousers, but the real reason you’ll want to play him is his Special Attack Power (ROBOTICS GENIUS: Give Baxter Stockman a free action to heal an adjacent friendly character with the Robot keyword 1 click. If it can’t be healed, modify its speed and attack values by +1 this turn instead.).

In a world where Juston Seyfert exists [EDITOR’S NOTE: Uh, like ours? Ohhh, I see what you did there. Nice.)], Baxter here is the perfect complementary role player!

Casey Jones

6. TMNT012 Casey Jones30 PointsUncommon: Yes, he tops out with a Damage Value of 2. His Defense Value isn’t great either (it’s a 17). But his with a little help from someone’s Outwit, or if you just send him after support figures with little or no damage absorption, Casey Jones can actually get by as a Secondary Attacker… for just 30 Points!! How? His top dial Attack Special (GOONGALA GOONGALA: Give Casey Jones a close action and make a close attack. If he hits, after actions resolve move him up to two squares automatically breaking away, then make another close attack with his attack and damage values modified by +1.), that’s how.

This is probably the most dangerous 30 Point melee piece we’ve seen since Fear Itself Loki!

(Oh, and if you want to go the Outwit route to cancel opposing defenses, might we suggest Ms. O’Neil from slot number 10? She combos nicely with Casey.)

TMNT Jason Flowers

Click here for more info on this awesome Jason Flowers TMNT print.

5. TMNT034 Donatello — 75 Points — Chase:

4. TMNT035 Leonardo — 75 Points — Chase:

3. TMNT033 Michaelangelo — 75 Points — Chase:

2. TMNT032 Raphael — 75 Points — Chase:

Okay, we’re gonna talk about these four Chase pieces all together since they’re all really similar pieces. Each Turtle again has their signature Weapon Special, and they all share the same two Traits (we’ll use Mikey’s card as an example, since he was always my favorite Turtle): (SHELL TO SHELL DEFENSE: Michelangelo can use Stealth. If Michelangelo is adjacent to a character named Raphael, Donatello, or Leonardo, he can use Impervious.) and (ADVANCED TURTLE TECHNIQUE: When Michelangelo hits one or more opposing characters, after actions resolve Michelangelo can move up to 2 squares automatically breaking away, and then may make a close attack targeting a character he has not attacked this turn.).

So each Chase Turtle gives you six highly efficient Clicks for 75 Points that get even BETTER when played with each other.

Getting melee pieces to their targets in one piece has always and will always be a problem in Heroclix, but giving Stealth and Impervious to these Turtles when they advance in pairs is a huge advantage!

Krang

Shredder, my eyes are down here!

1. TMNT031 Krang — 170 Points — Super Rare: Wow. For everyone who looked at Super Rare Prime Ragnarok from Avengers Assemble and said, “Sure he can unleash unholy destruction when paired with Juston Seyfert, but I wish he was, like, 30 Points cheaper… ,” well, now you have your wish.

Yup, Krang has the “Robot” keyword. He has other keywords as well, I’m sure, but who cares? “Robot” is all Juston needs to go crazy with him.

Krang’s Trait (MOLECULAR AMPLIFICATION CHIP: Give Krang a free action and he has (Giant Damage Symbol) and modifies his combat values by +1 until your next turn. At the end of your turn, deal him 1 unavoidable damage. Give Krang a free action and he has Colossal and modifies his combat values by +2 until your next turn. At the end of your turn, deal him 2 unavoidable damage. You may only activate one of these powers each turn.) is really what all the fuss is about. By making him Colossal, you end up with even better stats than what Ragnarok starts with, and Krang also has top dial Charge, Impervious and Prob Control.

Not a bad little package… but it gets much better! His Attack Special (SHAPESHIFTING HANDS: Give Krang a free action to choose a standard attack power or (Wing Movement Symbol). Krang can use the chosen power or symbol until you choose again.) also gives him a TON of flexibility over how he’s going to kill you.

And if you do manage to knock him off of his first Click, he simply gains a Damage Special Power (IQ OF 968 – UNTIL HE GETS MAD: Krang can use Outwit and Probability Control. His powers can’t be countered by a character on an equal or higher click number.) that makes it REALLY hard to damage him again!

Oh, and speaking of damage, how about we just pair him with “Scientist” Baxter Stockman (number 7 on our list) and let him heal damage every freaking turn… for free!

I will be shocked if Krang doesn’t make a significant impact on the Meta!

 

Okay, that’s all for today. In the coming days and weeks we will be gearing up for our dual Top Ten Set Reviews for Uncanny X-Men, and Ninwashui has a special Meta Build article he’s working on wherein he brainstorms a way to counter everyone’s favorite gun-toting uncle, Nick Fury!!

Until then, Stay Safe, and Watch Where You Draw Your Lines of Fire!!

Team Ideas – The Many Faces of Manifold

Avengers commuting to work.

This is how Avengers commute to work.

Idea

So Avengers Assembled brought us AVAS037 Manifold. He’s a great transport character, but unlike the very similar SLOSH022 Gates, you need to share a Keyword with Manifold for him to Carry your team and ignore combat symbols. He’s got the Avengers Keyword, but there are plenty of good flyers with the Avengers keyword. He’s also got the Secret Warriors Keyword… and he is the only figure in Modern Age that has it. Bummer, right?

Thankfully, that is not the case! Why? Because of ATA033 Secret Warriors!! It states: “Before you reveal your force, choose the H.A.M.M.E.R., Hydra, or S.H.I.E.L.D. keyword. Characters using this team ability also possess the chosen keyword. Uncopyable.” Due to the strange wording I checked online and there is a ruling saying that this ATA works like you think it should (i.e., Manifold would get the chosen keyword… “As You Build your force.”). Manifold can get the H.A.M.M.E.R., Hydra, or S.H.I.E.L.D keywords as long as everyone else on the team has those keywords. Essentially he is a walking Quinjet for those keywords (which all happen to sorely need good transportation, natch). This is something I have been looking for since I drafted Hal Jordan into S.H.I.E.L.D. last year. 

Here are some teams that explore how Manifold’s extra mobility really helps these keywords that are full of mostly grounded characters.

Wolverine Agent of Hydra

I just added Sue Storm, Agent of Hydra to my most needed in HeroClix list. C’mon Wizkids, I didn’t get even get my Captain Marvel Constantine in Trinity War. You owe me. 

Team Name: The Hand’s Lawnmower Man

Keyword Theme: The Hand

RosterDP103 Wolverine, Agent of Hydra, AVAS037 Manifold (with ATA033 Secret Warriors), DP006 Hand Ninja, DP006 Hand Ninja, DP006 Hand Ninja, WOLR106 Power Battery (Star Sapphires) – (WOLR306 Star Sapphire Ring, WOLR200.11 Bulldozer (Green), WOLR202.11 Bulldozer (Red), WOLR206.11 Bulldozer (Violet))

Total = 300 Points

How it Works: This a simple team with a simple plan.

AVAS037 Manifold Carries the three Hand Ninjas while hiding behind their Stealth. When a prime target wanders into his killbox (which, in this Build, has an incredibly impressive Threat Range of 11 squares! Don’t worry, we’ll do the math on that in a second.) it’s time for Manifold to strike with his 3 Ninja cargo!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, let’s do some quick Heroclix math (and remember, class, you have to show your work): Manifold can move 10 squares while using Carry and he can drop his Hand-y passengers off in the adjacent squares ahead of him, where they can each make close combat actions AS FREE ACTIONS. (The fact that the attacks are Free Actions is the only reason this works–Ninwashui will explain why they’re Free Actions in a second when he gets to their Special Damage Power). 10+1=11 square melee Threat Range for Manifold and the Hand Ninjas! Great job class!]

So Manifold Phases forward Carrying his secret ninja payload and drops them adjacent to a fat, juicy, sizzling opposing character just begging to be lit up. All three DP006 Hand Ninjas [EDITOR’S NOTE: They are freaking AMAZING in this Build.] can then immediately attack due to their Special Damage Power “THERE’S ALWAYS MORE NINJAS: When Hand Ninja is adjacent to at least one friendly character with the Hand keyword, Hand Ninja can make a close combat attack as a free action.” On the offensive side these guys have a 10 Attack Value, Precision Strike, and the option of generating automatic Knockback due to their Bulldozer constructs. This can add extra damage by knocking people off of Elevated ledges or repeatedly bouncing them into walls.

It will also be easier for them to hit because DP103 Wolverine, Agent of Hydra is on the board, and he happens to be badass in a can. He has a Trait that says “MY KIND OF HYDRA: When friendly characters use the Hydra team ability, they can also affect close combat attacks and don’t need line of fire to the target.” On the defensive side, Hand Ninjas will have Stealth, Shape Change and Mystics (once they have a Construct), and their Trait “RETURN FROM DEATH: When Hand Ninja would be KO’d while adjacent to a friendly character with The Hand keyword, roll a d6. On a result of 5-6, Hand Ninja isn’t KO’d and after actions resolve, is placed in your starting area on click #2 instead.

Two words about Hand Ninjas: Killing Machines.

Two words about Hand Ninjas: Killing Machines.

Since Wolverine isn’t being carried by Manifold, he can either choose a different target to go after or he can arrive the following turn after your big attack to shore up your line of ninjas. Manifold is mostly there for transportation, but his TK and Barrier can also help the team out if they get in a pinch (as you can pull back an attacker or block lines of fire as needed, natch.).

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Stop trying to bring “natch” back, Ninwa. It ain’t going to happen.]

As the Hand Ninjas fall in battle, their constructs can be reassigned to Wolverine and Manifold as needed.

daisy johnson

This is how I know we will be getting more Secret Warriors in a future set.

Team Name: The Secret Warriors of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Keyword Theme: S.H.I.E.L.D.

RosterCATWS017 Captain America and Black Widow, AVAS037 Manifold (with ATA033 Secret Warriors), CATWS013 Agent 13, CATWS005 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent, Edwin Jarvis ID CardFIR100 The Book of the Skull (FIR101 Kuurth’s Hammer, FIR106 Nul’s Hammer, FIR107 Angrir’s Hammer)

Total = 300 Points

How it Works: CATWS017 Captain America and Black Widow was easily the most powerful character to come out of the Winter Soldier set. It has a few short comings as a Primary Attacker that are now easily overcome by this team.

The piece’s biggest weakness was that it could not be Carried (since it has the “Duo” Symbol), so it always arrived a little late to the battle–and with a action token already weighing on it. Now with AVAS037 Manifold, that is no longer a problem. Manifold says “PORTALS OF SPACE AND TIME: Manifold can use the Carry ability. When he does, he may carry up to 3 friendly characters regardless of their combat symbols if they each share a keyword with him. When Manifold is given a move action and actions resolve, you may give him a free action and friendly characters adjacent when this action was given modify their defense values by +1 until your next turn.” Now, a lot of folks looked at Manifold’s Trait and said, “Hey, he can Carry flyers!” Well, the Duo Symbol is also a Combat Symbol. Thus, Manifold can Carry a single base Duo figure.

Angrir’s Hammer takes care of  Captain America and Black Widow‘s Attack Value (which was already a solid 11) and lets them use Steal Energy with their duo attack! CATWS005 S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent lets them use Empower for close encounters and the S.H.I.E.L.D. T/A for long distance fights. However, his number one reason to be on the team is “TAKE A BULLET IN THE LINE OF DUTY: When a friendly character with the S.H.I.E.L.D. keyword and a higher point value is within 8 squares, that character can use Mastermind, but only to deal damage to friendly characters with the name S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent.” That should let your Primary Attacker completely ignore the first damage it might otherwise take. CATWS013 Agent 13 is on the team both for limiting opposing free actions and for bypassing opposing defenses. Giving her Kuurth’s Hammer should allow her to make it to her targets easier and allow her to clear away any troublesome walls or Barrier tokens.

And if you give Manifold Nul’s Hammer, he can use the Willpower it gives him to use Carry and Barrier more often. Or, the +2 Attack Value and Running Shot (plus the slight bump to his Range Value) it also grants makes him a decent Secondary Attacker.

Portrait of an Avenger.

Eden decides whether to stick with S.H.I.E.L.D. or join Hydra…

So there you have it. In the never-ending war between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra, one man may make the difference between a world a chaos… or a world of order. Which Build would you rather play?

Sound off in the Comments below!

The Big Six-MO… nth! Anniversary!! (Or, 10 Burning Questions About Invincible Iron Man!!)

"Well, this should be interesting."

“So… what’s new with you?”

We are time traveling today, folks! We’re journeying to the distant past, waaaaay back, back before even Lydea Mallor roamed the tables and countertops of this planet we call Earth, back when bringing Shuma-Gorath and a Mole Man to a ROC was still legal (whereas now, of course, bringing Shuma and a Mole Man to a ROC will earn you 3-5 years at County). Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the distant, distant past of six months ago! Invincible Iron Man was released just before Thanksgiving of 2013 (HCRealms.com lists it as November 20th on their Units page; that’s as good a date as any), so it was six months ago that the world was introduced to pieces like the Silver Centurion, Tony Stark, Absorbing Man (the LE) and Iron Pharaoh. What did we learn from this set, and how is it affecting both casual games and the Meta today? Well, to find that out, we’re debuting a new column gimmick today that we like to call…

10 BURNING QUESTIONS!!

Here we go!

Q1. Both HypeFox AND Ninwashui weighed in on the merits of many individual pieces–Invincible Iron Man was the subject of the first set reviews published by Critical Missives, right? How did they both do? Would their personal Top 10 (and 5 Honorable Mentions) change if they were assembling those lists today?

Mistakes Were Made

Mistakes Were Made

A1: Okay, first of all, that’s like 3 questions. You’re already ruining this gimmick and it hasn’t even started yet! To review, my Top Ten IIM figs were:

10. Grey Gargoyle (Super Rare) 

9. Iron Pharaoh (Chase)

8. Crimson Cowl (Rare)

7. Rescue (Main Set Version) (Common)

6. War Machine (Rare Prime) 5. War Machine (Rare)

4. Hyperion (Veteran Super Rare Prime)

3. Count Nefaria (Super Rare)

2. Absorbing Man (LE)

1. Silver Centurion (Common Prime)

While my Honorable Mention consisted of:

5. Bulldozer (Rookie Common)

4. Tony Stark (Uncommon)

3. King Hyperion (Super Rare)

2. Iron Paladin (Chase)

1. Maggia Goon (Common)

So, would I change anything? Surprisingly, not a ton. These lists have held up fairly well. Having said that, if I were ranking IIM figs today, it would look more like this (* denotes figure who didn’t appear on previous lists):

10. Tony Stark

9. Rescue (Main Set version)

8. Count Nefaria

7. Iron Doom*

6. Iron Man* (Experienced Common version)

5. War Machine (Rare version)

4. Absorbing Man (LE)

3. Shaman* (Super Rare)

2. Iron Pharaoh

1. Silver Centurion

With an Honorable Mention of:

5. War Machine (Prime) 

4. King Hyperion

3. Iron Man* (Rare)

2. Crimson Cowl

1. Hyperion* (Experienced version!)

So, what have I learned in the six months that the set has been out and in the four months since I wrote the lists?

Well, for one thing, Iron Pharaoh is reeeeeaaaallly good.

"I could have told you that."

“I could have told you that, mortal.”

Improved Targeting of ANY kind gives you a major leg up on your competition, and the Pharaoh basically gives you Improved Targeting: Ignores the $#%@&^! Map via his Golden Falcon, Sharting (On Your Opponent’s Entire Strategy) Trait. The Dial H guys have pointed out on more than one occasion that ranged-attack based teams have an inherent advantage (all other things being equal) over close combat teams; they’re usually going to get the Alpha Strike. How do close combat teams combat this advantage? Primarily with Map choice (by choosing a map with terrain that aids what their strategy is, whether that’s advancing and hiding behind Blocking or Elevated Terrain), or with Stealth, etc. Well, Improved Targeting is an ability that specifically hoses those few options and turns what was a minor advantage into a MAJOR advantage for the ranged-attack team. And in ranged-attack versus ranged-attack matchups, if one team has Improved Targeting and the other team does not, the team that does–if it’s positioned well–will still have that same Alpha Strike advantage AS IF IT WAS FACING A CLOSE COMBAT TEAM.

And when you add resources that provide things like Sidestep (like, say, The Phoenix Force) into the mix, even common figures that people may have once overlooked (<cough>E Iron Man 001 <cough>, which, y’know, I totally meant to put on my intial list, but, uh, forgot, and stuff, and really, what had happened was…) suddenly become “breakable.”

"Careful! I'm 'breakable!'"

“Careful! I’m ‘breakable!'”

Experienced Iron Man 001 plus Sidestep (whether it’s from the Phoenix Force, or from Agent Sitwell, with whom he shares a keyword, or…) plus the right map choice [think Fear Itself Month 1 (The Raft) or AvX Month 1 (Latveria), or any map with a ton of Blocking Terrain] turns this Iron Man into a piece that can potentially Outwit an opposing character THROUGH BLOCKING TERRAIN AND HE DOESN’T CARE IF SAID OPPOSING FIGURE HAS STEALTH! Then he can attack that figure and then, in this scenario, (this is the best part) SIDESTEP BEHIND OTHER BLOCKING TERRAIN SO THAT HE CANNOT BE RETALIATED AGAINST! He’s basically Darkseid without all the “I cost at least 200 Points” drama! Hell, Sitwell is 60 Points AND provides another Perplex (and possibly a prob, assuming your other figs are also S.H.I.E.L.D. keyword figs like these two). I don’t know about you, but when you factor in the fact that this Iron Man also has top click Running Shot, Invuln and Precision Strike, I’d rather play him and Sitwell for 210 than just Darkseid for 200. Overlooking this piece was probably a bigger mistake than under-ranking Iron Pharaoh–at least the Pharaoh made the list.

Here’s a version of a Dial H Best Build I submitted this month that features this particular Iron Man:

Team Name: Nothing to See Here

Theme: S.H.I.E.L.D.

Map ChoiceFear Itself Month 1 (The Raft) or AvX Month 1 (Latveria)

IIM001AE Iron Man – 150

CATWS014 Agent Sitwell – 60

CATWS011 Maria Hill – 60

The Phoenix Force – 12

Assigned Character x2 – 6

Cyclops, Colossus, Magik & Emma Frost Fragments – 12

= 300

Nothing to See here is designed to throw Outwits from every conceivable angle on the board while IM blasts fools through walls. May not win a ROC, but if you win the Map Choice, it’ll be tons of fun to play!

I also overlooked Shaman in a major way. He, too, didn’t make either of my lists–he was one of my last eliminations for Honorable Mention as I recall–but the build possibilities that his Trait (“NO FLIGHT” SPELL: Once per game, give Shaman a free action and until he is KO’d, other characters with “wing symbol” or “transporter wing symbol” have “boot symbol” instead.) grants cannot be overstated. What often goes overlooked on Shaman however is his capability as a secondary attacker–he’s not just a support piece. His first click gives you 10 Attack with TK, 17 Defense with both ES/D AND a souped-up Barrier, and he has 3 Damage top click WITH Perplex! For less than 100 Points!

Look how annoying you can be with him:

Team Name: No Flights, No Tights

Theme: Mystical (Generic)

Map Choice: AvX Month 1 (Wundagore Mountain)

IIM040 Shaman – 92

IIM051 Iron Pharaoh – 110

FFCW006R Scarlet Witch – 50

FIB002 Skadi’s Warbot – 30

The Phoenix Force – 12

1 Assigned Character – 3

Cyclops Fragment – 3

=300

This team can double Barrier to protect Iron Pharaoh while his Golden Falcon goes out and treats the map like a Seagull treats a parking lot after a big lunch. If you win Map Roll, yikes. Your opponent better have a non-flying piece equipped with Phasing/Teleport and the Carry ability–essentially, Cloak from ASM (there’s a couple others, but he’s the best). If not, he or she will have to take the long way around a freaking mountain only to be met by a double Barrier tandem who each have the Mystics TA when AND IF you can actually hit them. All the while, Iron Pharaoh will be chilling like the Boss that he is and taking pot shots of at least 5 damage (and it’s quite easy to make that even more) at your best figs after he’s Outwitted their defense. This is the definition of “a bucket of yuck” for your opponent.

"I thought I was clear before, but, to reiterate... Y'all mother$@#%&!$ forgot about Dre!"

“I thought I was clear before, but, to reiterate… Y’all mother$@#%&!$ forgot about Dre!”

So those two figs are probably the ones I missed the mark on the most. Some other figs whose ranking I would change have gotten stronger (Iron Doom) or weaker based on subsequent releases. For example, Absorbing Man LE has taken a slight hit with the release of figs like CATWS013 Agent 13, who can just void someone’s defense completely, but  overall, Iron Pharaoh and Shaman were my biggest mistakes, I believe. Next question!

Q4. Other than Shaman, what figure hasn’t been exploited in the Meta as much as you thought they would be? And why?

A4. Hmmm… that’s a surprisingly good question. And it was just two questions! Well done! You’re getting better! Still ruining the gimmick, but you’re getting better!

Let’s see… well, to be honest, I’m surprised people didn’t find more of a use for Grey Gargoyle, the Super Rare. His trick of only letting an adjacent opponent clear one token at a time (instead of two if they’d been pushed) and having some pretty good close combat stats made me think someone would find a way to make him really nasty. If you combine him with AvX Professor X, you could really slow an opponent down, but you wouldn’t have much offense in a 300 Point game–or a Theme Team. That seems like a combo worth trying in, like, a 500 Point game. For the Meta, he may just cost too much for what he does. It may be as simple as that.

A smug French dude isn't worth what it costs to deal with him? Stop the presses!

A smug French dude isn’t worth what it costs to deal with him? Stop the presses!

Q6. What about the Silver Centurion? Is he still as good now as he was 6 months ago?

A6. Okay, I feel like you’re kind of plateauing in terms of the progress you were making with the whole “asking questions” thing. You just asked two questions again! And the first one was barely even a question–what about the Silver Centurion? Oh, you’d like to know if he’s still as good now as he was 6 months ago? WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST ASK THAT INSTEAD OF WASTING YET ANOTHER QUESTION?

I suppose I should just answer both questions by answering the one THAT WAS ACTUALLY A QUESTION! Sigh…

Yes, he’s as good as he was 6 months ago. He still brings a quality secondary attacker WITH HIM, which tends to scare or, at the very least, frustrate anyone unfortunate enough to play against him. His Point cost WITHOUT the Torpedo is still very reasonable (especially since he’s immune to half of the best attack abilities in the game); and, with the Avengers keyword, he can tack on the Secret Avengers ATA to (somewhat) stymie his biggest fear–Outwit. He’s shown up at or near the top of countless ROC events, and nothing’s really come down the pike that really makes him weaker now than he was then. He’s still the best fig in the set. It’s closer now than it was before, but even without Improved Targeting of any kind, he’s still a complete badass and one of the best Primary Attackers in Modern.

I don’t even need to come up with an army to prove my point–just check out the ROC results from the past few months and you’ll see a ton of great builds featuring the Silver Centurion.

"I'm going to assume I'm in a blizzard and not surrounded by the white nothingness of entropy as it slowly consumes the universe around me.  On another note--how sweet does my armor look next to a white background?"

“I’m going to assume I’m in a blizzard and not surrounded by the white nothingness of entropy as it slowly consumes the universe around me. On another note–how sweet does my armor look next to a white background?”

Q8. Can I have more questions?

A8. No.

Q9. What is the power legacy of this set in the current Modern Age format?

A9. Finally! Two questions in a row where you actually just asked a single question! Alright! Well, in terms of power, this set had more pieces that will show up in the Meta than the Marvel set that preceded it, Wolverine and the X-Men. But that’s okay–not every set has to have pieces that are geared towards a single format (in this case, 300 Point Modern Age). WATX had plenty of pieces that are a lot of fun to play, and it introduced Team Bases to the Marvel Heroclix world. It also had some of the most popular Chase characters ever (the Phoenix Five), so loading it up with cutthroat power pieces would have given them less to do when it came time for Invincible Iron Man. Iron Pharaoh has turned up on quite a few Meta teams, but the character itself was never more than, like, an alternate cover–I don’t think there was ever even a story about him. But when he can exist in a game alongside 13 different Wolverines, I think that means that Heroclix in general is actually in good shape. There’s plenty of little things that irk me, but you can play competitive games now with a ton of different characters. That’s a huge step forward from just 14 months ago, when it was Ghost Rider and… well, and nothing else. It was just Ghost Riders as far as the eye could see, each one giving the next a Penance Stare.

This was the Meta in early 2013.

The Meta in early 2013.

Q10. Wow. What happens when Ghost Rider gives a Penance stare to Ghost Rider?

A10. That was probably your best question. I’m glad you saved it for last. Anyway, the Ghost Rider giving the Penance Stare would end up here:

Being John Malkovich

All paradoxical loops inevitably lead to John Malkovich’s head. And thank you for RUINING THE FIRST OUTING OF OUR NEW GIMMICK WITH YOUR HORRIBLE QUESTION-WASTING!!

Q11. You’re welcome?

A11. I hate you.

Back later this week with some AvX Month 3 Tourney Reports…

 

Snow News Is Good News? (Or, The Weekly Roundup for 03/16/2014!!)

Roundup

Snowmageddon hit southeastern Michigan for what seems like the thirtieth time in the last twenty-nine days, followed by a localized internet blackout for yours truly. But we’re back up and running! SLoSH sealed was cancelled and rescheduled for this week, and the weather made it impossible to get anywhere on time from late Tuesday night to midday Thursday. I used to love Winter, but come the #$@& on already! This is ridiculous.

All of which is to say–to quote the BareNaked Ladies–it’s been one week!! (Yeah, that was a pretty long way to go for that.)

IT’S TIME FOR THE WEEKLY ROUNDUP!!

Podcasts:

Dial H

Dial H for Heroclix was brand new again–when isn’t it? That’s consistency, people!!–this week with Episode 36! The guys engage in a roundtable review of the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier dials that should finally be in a hobby store near you as you are reading this! [SPOILER ALERT–Agent 13 is freaking GOOD!! And so is the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent who–oh, heck, just listen to the podcast–or simply check out the last feature in this column for more info!)

Clixcast

ClixCast was dark again this week, according to their iTunes feed.

Closed for business?

–Still dead, Jim.

Push to Regen

Push to Regen is, of course, still on its two-month hiatus.

This is Ultimate Play, b!tches!

ROC’n the Clix.

The Quarry was back new again this week as DarkLogos and the gang continue their MARCH MASS HYSTERIA with a breakdown of the Canadian 1k Open!

Welcome... to the ROC!

Welcome… to the ROC!

ROC:

–The ROC is changing their Map! No more Wrestling Ring. Instead, say hello to the… MAYAN TEMPLE!

–Some more new Tourney announcements, which you can find right here!

Hi! I'll be your Meta for today. What can I getcha started with?

Hi! I’ll be your Meta for today. What can I getcha started with?

–A Kentucky-set ROC Super Qualifier went down, and a Brother Voodoo/GCPD Cruiser team came out on top. But there was PLENTY of Lydea Mallor–she is definitely the figure that’s most wanted from SL0SH–at least, for now…

–Speaking of results, plenty of results to peruse from the Western Canadian $1K Open Realms Open Championship Super Qualifier.

Preview

Previews:

–Another X-Men: DoFP preview, and it’s an Uncommon bomb: Nightcrawler. Really, really like this piece. Very strong, especially for his points. Outside of the Outsiders TA, you’re gonna have to deal with his 19 Defense.

Entertainment News:

–Lady Sif kicked some butt on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last week, and now the show is dark for a bit. Instead, we get a Marvel Movie Special on ABC tonight, which will preview Cap II, GotG & future eps of S.H.I.E.L.D. .

–And I have not yet decided on an Entertainment News segment logo…

Critical Missives:

–Ninwashui released his Top Ten SLoSH figures, which also contained a general overview of the whole set along with his five WORST figures, which I think will surprise a lot of people…

–Captain America: The Winter Soldier has released in both Hobby shops AND Targets nationwide, which means it’s time to revisit my DEFYING GRAVITY column!

This is how you defy gravity... LIKE A BOSS!

This is how you defy gravity… LIKE A BOSS!

To recap, my prediction for the main set (both Hobby and Mass Market) was:                                                   The actual setlist was:

CATWS#001: Captain America                                                                                                                                                  CATWS#001: Captain America (Yay! 1 for 1! I cannot be stopped!)

CATWS#002: S.H.I.E.L.D. Strike Agent                                                                                                                               CATWS#002: S.H.I.E.L.D. Soldier (Bah. Close, but no cigar! This is like 1 and 1/2 for 2.)

CATWS#003: Alexander Pierce                                                                                                                                                CATWS#003: Black Widow (Right character, in that she’s definitely in the set, but wrong #. 1 and 1/2 for 3.)

CATWS#004: The Winter Soldier                                                                                                                                            CATWS#004: Batroc (For some reason, I thought he’d be a rare. Freaking Batroc. 1 and 1/2 for 4.)

CATWS#005: Black Widow                                                                                                                                                         CATWS#005: S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent (Bah. There were 3 freaking S.H.I.E.L.D. generics? 1 and 1/2 for 5.)

CATWS#006: Nick Fury                                                                                                                                                                CATWS#006: Falcon (1 and 1/2 for 6.)

CATWS#007: Crossbones                                                                                                                                                             CATWS#007: S.H.I.E.L.D. Commander  (Turned out Crossbones’s only version was the rare Brock Rumlow. 1 and 1/2 for 7.)

CATWS#008: Sharon Carter                                                                                                                                                        CATWS#008: Winter Soldier (1 and 1/2 for 8. Bleeecccchhh.)

CATWS#009: Howard Stark                                                                                                                                                        CATWS#009: Steve Rogers (Howard Stark? Not even in the set. 1 and 1/2 for 9.)

CATWS#010: Batroc the Leaper                                                                                                                                                 CATWS#010: Brock Rumlow (1 and 1/2 for 10.)

CATWS#011: Maria Hill                                                                                                                                                                  CATWS#011: Maria Hill (Boom!! Nailed it! 2 and 1/2 for 11.)

CATWS#012: Falcon                                                                                                                                                                         CATWS#012: Captain America (Annnnnddd… more failure. 2 and 1/2 for 12.)

CATWS#013: The Winter Soldier                                                                                                                                               CATWS#013: Agent 13 (Oh, I’m stupid. I’m really, really stupid. Of course she was #013. Btw, for her 55 points, and   with her defensive shutdown SP, she is the best fig in the set, imo. Check her out. They put a better  version of Malekith’s defensive shutdown SP on a figure that costs almost 200 points less. Crazy! 2 and 1/2 for 13.)

CATWS#014 Peggy Carter                                                                                                                                                              CATWS#014: Agent Sitwell (Talked myself out of this one. He is awesome too, btw. S.H.I.E.L.D. swarm teams got some HUGE additions with this set. 2 and 1/2 out of 14.)

CATWS#015 Machete                                                                                                                                                                        CATWS#015: Nick Fury (This is possibly the BEST Nick Fury they’ve ever made. This Target set is AWESOME! 2 and 1/2 out of 15.)

CATWS#016 Captain America                                                                                                                                                       CATWS#016: Winter Soldier (2 and 1/2 out of 16.)

CATWS#017: Captain America and Winter Soldier                                                                                                             CATWS#017: Captain America and Black Widow (This is the Hobby Chase. I thought Falcon would be on one of these. I was wrong. It’s fun, but not really Meta. Still cool. 2 and 1/2 out of 17.)

CATWS#018: Captain America and Falcon                                                                                                                               CATWS#018: Captain America and Bucky (Well, I ALMOST had it. This one has the Howling Commandos keyword, which–along with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Avengers–got a HUGE boost with this mini-set. FINAL TALLY: 2 and 1/2 out of 18. Yeeeesssh. Back to the minors for me!)

Okay! So there’s the update! Look for a second opinion on SLoSH late Wednesday or some time on Thursday.

Until then, Stay Safe, and Watch Your Lines of Fire!