Let’s Not Make This Harder Than It Has to Be!! (Or, The Weekly Roundup for 05/04/2014)

Roundup

Hmmm… don’t know why I keep dating these Roundups for Sundays when I keep releasing them on Tuesday. Just one of the many quirks of Critical Missives (seriously, though, I’m working on it!), I guess, as is naming this week’s column after the hook from an infectiously ear-wormy Ingrid Michaelson song that I can’t #^#)^$#^ get out of my head. Grrrrr…

Still, it’s been a good week for Southeastern Michiganders! The weather finally seems to be breaking towards an actual Spring, and my Tigers seem to have solved their bullpen issues rather simply–they just have all of their starting pitchers go 7 strong innings and score so many damn runs that it becomes physically impossible for the relievers to cough up the lead in the short amount of time they have to pitch. Mind you, they still try REALLY FREAKING hard to give it up, but this past week they just haven’t had enough time to get it done. Luckily.

Now, you might be thinking, the Tigers have won like 6 games in a row–how bad could their bullpen be? Well, despite the fact that they traded an All-Star-level pitcher who was still under club control in the off-season (Doug Fister) for a pair of tube socks and a bat bag just to save a few million bucks, they just turned around and spent a cool million on a dude whose arm fell off last year… and he’ll be the second best pitcher in the bullpen ASSUMING HE’S EVER HEALTHY ENOUGH TO JOIN THE TEAM THIS SEASON. I know a million is not a lot of money in the world of baseball salaries, but to call this a “flyer” might be generous at best. “Desperation” is a word that comes more readily to mind. Keep in mind, when you search for images of Joel Hanrahan with his most recent team before the Tigers, this is one of the first images that pops up:

"You're not exactly inspiring confidence, Joel."

“You’re not exactly inspiring confidence, Joel.”

Former skipper Jim Leyland is not impressed, either:

"Nope."

“Nope.”

(Okay, I just wanted an excuse to run my favorite Leyland picture–sue me!)

But enough moaning about my favorite baseball team–this is a Heroclix blog, ain’t it? Well of course it is, so that means it’s gotta be time for…

THE WEEKLY ROUNDUP!!

PODCASTS:

Dial H

Dial H for Heroclix has released Episode 43! This week the guys discuss more of the spoiled War of the Light dials (from Newsarama–Red Lanterns this time, and man do they look nasty!) and discuss the best of the Yu-Gi-Oh figs that were just released. Also, the first week for the May Dial Design has come and gone, and May’s Best Build page just opened up!

Clixcast

ClixCast is still dark. According to their iTunes feed, their last podcast was still February 18th. Sadly, it appears that they may have gone the way of Duo Attack, so this will probably be their last appearance here in the Podcast section until something changes.

Push to Regen

–Apparently delayed due to Easter, Push to Regen is back with the second episode of Season 2! Among other things, they discuss the Con Exclusive figs for this year and talk about War of the Light. Check their Podbean for updates!

This is Ultimate Play, b!tches!

The Quarry’s latest episode is … Episode 17! Roundtable discussion with Patrick Yapjoco on the Hanford SQ and the Iowa SQ. Ultimate Play just keeps rolling on, b!tches!

Welcome... to the ROC!

Welcome… to the ROC!

ROC:

–Up to date upcoming tourney listings, which you can find right HERE!

–Recent tourney results seem to indicate that some of the peeps in Metaland are trying to make Experienced M10 Iron Man happen again. I have to admit that I thought his day had come and gone, but between him, Phantom Girl and Lydea Mallor, players fielding resources are putting themselves at some risk now. Not enough to not play them, in my opinion, but it’s becoming very clear now that if you’re going to compete in a ROC, you had better choose the right resource for the force you’ve constructed and–moreover–you better have a backup plan for if and when you face M10 or Lydea, cuz either one can ruin you’re day real quick if you’re not properly prepared. I don’t know what the best counter to M10 is right now, but you have a few options even if you still want to play a resource. Choosing the Phoenix Force, Outwitting his defense and basing him with your Shard-granted Poison seems like the easiest way to do it (since it would give you another way each turn to force your opponent into that 50/50 unavoidable damage d6), but there’s probably a bunch of other options as well. Outwit plus a free Hammer Quake from the Book might be another way to go, as well. I guess Outwit is the key to all these strategies, eh? All you really have to do is 2 damage and the lil’ bugger goes down to a 9 Attack and 16 Defense with Invuln.

Preview

Previews:

-New War of the Light dials seem to go up every day–Newsarama is a good place to look, but eventually all that info filters down to HCRealms, so you can always check their Units page. Too many to comment on here, but so far, most look like a lot of fun, even if they’re not quite Meta-worthy–although the Red Lanterns certainly have potential. But just how many Primes are in this set? And Chases–Gawd, Chases are gonna run $100 easy, given how hot and scarce this set is gonna be. Btw, Jerry Seinfeld wanted to pop back into this column after a few weeks away with a special message for all the ‘Clixers out there looking to collect the whole set:

Seinfeld Good Luck

-Well, after Banshee was spoiled last week, I’m not sure we even need to see any other Deadpool figures–Shaun Cassidy is probably going to be the biggest addition to the Meta from that set. He’s definitely an early contender for #1 in our upcoming Deadpool Top Ten columns. Having said that, there’s plenty of cool figures from this set on display in a brand new Unboxing video featuring Scott Porter from Friday Night Lights and what I’m told is a CW show called Heart of Dixie. He’ll always be Jason Street in my mind, but if you want to see him unbox a whole brick of Deadpool, click HERE! He’s clearly a big Heroclix fan (the funnest part of the video might have been ogling all his “trophy” figs on display behind him). SPOILER ALERT: Don’t watch the first few minutes of the video if you don’t want to know what the Chase theme is going to be–he pulls one out of the second pack (I can tell you that the Chases will all have the Gold bases that the Chaos War Chases used–they look pretty cool. He also discovers a special secret about them that I hadn’t seen guessed before in any of the various Clix forums… these could get really expensive really quickly too.)

This is NOT a spoiler!

This is NOT a spoiler!

–The other figure spoiled this week that will make AvX X-Men players cry is Moira MacTaggert. She’s a 28-Point Scientist with the X-Men keyword who shuts down the Capture ability (i.e. slightly nerfs the new Sentinels) and–oh yeah–is going to be (arguably) the BEST FREAKING MEDIC IN THE GAME! Heh. Good job delaying her, WizKids! As an Avengers player, I’d rather not have to deal with their version of Donald Blake (hell, their BETTER version of Donald Blake at that!). In addition to her starting Willpower and 11 Attack Support, she also gets Perplex down dial (she’s only 4 clix long), but c’mon–she’s 28-Points! Methinks Moira may see some Meta use.

Hooray for Hollllllywooood!!

Hooray for Hollllllywooood!!

Entertainment News:

–Some point soon, I’m going to publish an episode guide for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so peeps can catch up if they tapped out earlier in the season. They’ve had a STRONG back half of episodes! Hopefully ABC announces a second season pickup soon (with the ratings being what they are, it’s actually weird that they haven’t announced a renewal already, but I guess ABC is waiting for the upfronts for that).

–That “Smallville” treatment of Bruce Wayne I’ve been updating you guys on? It just got ordered to series by FOX, so this one’s going to go. Intriguing cast. We’ll see if it works. I’d bet dollars to donuts that it won’t tie into either “Arrow” or the about-to-film “Superman Vs. Batman,” but it’s not entirely clear at this point. History will tell you though that while Marvel has gone to great links to establish shared universes with it’s filmed entertainment ventures (even back as far as the 80’s–remember those TV Hulk movies where Daredevil and Thor showed up?), DC (read: Warner Brothers) has gone to great lengths to SEPARATE their heroes into distinct, solo film ventures. Of course, now that Marvel’s way has proven WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more lucrative, DC is trying to throw together a Justice League movie that would essentially be the sequel to SvB. We’ll see how it goes. As a fanboy, I’m extremely excited. As a person who was entertained but kinda/sorta underwhelmed by “Man of Steel,” I remain skeptical (why in God’s name was Lois Lane–a reporter for a Metropolis newspaper–tooling around Antarctica strong-arming Generals into showing her secret military bases and classified alien ships? And thank God she was an expert at scaling icy metallic surfaces while wearing a flimsy pair of townie boots and a parka… I don’t want to rant too much on this since this is still technically a parenthetical, but Lois Lane shouldn’t have shown up in that movie until those last scenes when Clark shows up for his first day of work at the Daily Planet. Imagine if no one knew that Amy Adams had even been cast and then she shows up suddenly at the end, Sam Jackson style–people would have loved it, and they’d look forward to seeing her in the sequel. Perhaps more importantly, this would have excised pretty much every shitty scene in that movie. Lois Lane isn’t a bad character–she’s one of the coolest women in comics, actually. But shoehorning her into the plot as early as they did added nothing to the story and actually sort of damaged the whole suspension-of-disbelief pact that every movie makes with its audience. Grrrrr…. End of rant).

Critical Missives:

–Just one new article last week, which was Ninwashui’s Local Tournament Report from AvX Month Three. Some nice analysis by Ninwa in there. Check it out if you’re looking for more AvX strategy and analysis.

Back later this week with some more Build columns and–in the next few weeks–that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode Guide.

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

Gone Hollywood (Or The Top 10 MovieClix of 2013!!)

And, as we wait for new Clix in 2014, we continue our look back at what we got in 2013…

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So I was channel surfing a couple nights ago, and a late-night FX Network screening of Thor inspired me to reminisce about the set that got me back into Heroclix after a long time away from the game—the Avengers Movie Set!

In particular, it was the Gravity Feed set that came out in Targets across the country in the summer of 2012 that inspired me to get back into Clix. I bought two little packs and pulled a movie-Cap and the Chase Loki. I hadn’t played Heroclix since the days of Secret Invasion, but I was hooked again as soon as I saw that lil’ plastic Tom Hiddleston! He’s a boatload of points, but man, with Mystics, Power Cosmic AND every copyable enemy TA, he is a rough day for your opponent before the match even begins! (As he should be. He almost singlehandedly took down the stars of, like, 2 billion dollars worth of blockbusters.)

The main Avengers movie set also had two more Chases, Odin and the Red Skull. Odin was fine; he was a little bizarre, with two Odinsleep clix that almost ensure you’ll lose in a 300 point game if you land on them (unless your opponent misses against that 19 defense, though. Then he’s in trouble.). But in a 300 or 400 point game, sinking 250 points into an Odin with two different Clix that are devoid of damage reducers is a tough way to go.

The Red Skull Chase was a different story, though. He had great keywords and is still widely used a year and a half later to be the engine on a multitude of different Hydra teams. The rest of the set was awesome, too, with a great mix of support pieces and a very useful new Team Ability for Marvel: Avengers Initiative (the Superman Ally TA finally comes to Marvel!). Avengers, Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. teams got the biggest boost (Gravity Feed Phil Coulson was one of the best Perplex sources for the points for a few months there), but there was a little bit of something for everyone.

When WizKids released a Dark Knight Rises set just a couple months later, it became clear that movie tie-in sets were going to be a THING going forward, and that you would ignore them at your own peril. If you were someone who only collected “comic sets,” you were gonna miss out on some great pieces. How many? Well, in 2013, WizKids released sets for:

Iron Man 3 Movie Set (April) (Regular CTD AND Target Exclusive Gravity Feed)

Man of Steel (June) (Regular CTD AND Target Exclusive Gravity Feed)

Fellowship of the Ring (June also) (CTD–only 12 years late!)

Pacific Rim (July) (CTD) (Giant Robots and Giant Monsters—the whole set is Giant figs, and it’s as cool as it sounds)

Lone Ranger (July again) (Mini-starter set with 4 bizarrely sculpted figures—they have oversized heads for whatever reason—and a couple of generic POGS)

Kick Ass 2 (Oh good Lord, July again—they really went for it in July, eh?) (CTD)

Thor: The Dark World (October) (Regular CTD AND Target Exclusive Gravity Feed)

The Two Towers (November) (CTD—this one’s only 11 years late! Much more timely!)

The Desolation of Smaug (November—wait, two separate Tolkien sets two weeks apart? That’s insane.) (CTD)

By my count, that’s at least 9 movie tie-in sets. Not every set is legal for every format, so I don’t blame you one bit if you let some of those releases pass you by (9! There were 9 freaking sets! WizKids HAD to be drunk, right? Everyone? Like, all of the Wizard Childern?) uncollected, but the Marvel and DC sets are legal in pretty much any standard game, so they’re definitely worth tracking down. But which figs will give you the best bang for your buck? Or, put another way, which pieces were the best? Man, if only someone would publish, like, a TOP TEN best MovieClix for 2013, then I’d know what to buy… Well, random italicized trailing stream of consciousness, your ethereal wish has been granted!!

(As Doctor Who once said, that sentence got away from me.)

THE TOP 10 MOVIECLIX OF 2013!!

Slattern

10. Slattern (#007) 600 points (Common–Pacific Rim CTD):  What do you get for 600 points nowadays? 13 Attack, 6 Damage with Shape Change, 20 Defense with Impervious and a 12 Movement with Charge and Giant Reach. Oh, and a hungry, colossal behemoth who comes back to life if your opponent somehow manage to kill him (as all great movie monsters must and should!) just so he can try to eat them again.

His Trait (BIGGEST, BADDEST MONSTER TO EVER WALK THE EARTH: Once per game, when Slattern would be KO’d, instead, heal it to its starting line, roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled, and subtract 1. Deal it the result as unavoidable damage. For the rest of the game, modify Slattern’s attack and damage values by +1. This power can’t be ignored.) is ridiculously awesome, even more so when you consider that he’s got the Pacific Rim version of Mystics (it’s called Kaiju, but it’s Mystics). That’s up to 22 clicks of Mystics TA to get through, which means you’re in for a long day of hating yourself if you’re sitting across the table from him.

So after all that, why is he only number 10 on this list? Cuz I once saw his 300 point version taken down almost singlehandedly by a 100 point Holiday Elf in a battle royale where I was controlling neither figure. Is that relevant? Not remotely, especially since we’re talking about the 600 point Veteran here. But that experience was seared into my memory. So, sorry Slattern, but 10 is as high as you go.

Colonel SAS

9. Colonel Stars and Stripes (#200) 100 Points (Marquee–Kick-Ass 2 CTD): This set kind of came and went quickly without making much impact at my local venue, but there are some interesting pieces here, none more so than Colonel Stars and Stripes. He has Traited Duo Attack with his dog Eisenhower, and he can be given a power action to release his dog as a Bystander token, which he can then give a free move action to each turn (provided the pup is still within 4 squares of his master). Add in Running Shot, Charge and Flurry at various points in his dial, and you have a nifty lil’ fig here. Pieces like this are what get me excited about “lesser sets” like movie sets—this isn’t a power piece per say, but he looks like he’s a lot of fun to play and he’s totally different from most of the Modern Age pieces we have right now (Squirrel Girl is probably his closest comp, but she plays a slightly different role—and is less points, too. Oh, and I think she’s either out of Modern Age or about to be rotated out this year…). You couldn’t actually PLAY him in a Modern Age game, but he’d be a lot of fun to mess around with at your local venue or in an Indy-themed tournament. Plus, given how he responded to the promotion of this movie, this is almost definitely the first and last time Jim Carrey will be Clix’d.

Worker Spider

8. Worker Spider (#H006) 10 Points (Horde Token–The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Starter Set): Yes, a Bystander token made this list. It also made Top 16 at a recent ROC event. Why? Because it’s damn near broken for its point level. 10 points now gets you Empower? Okay, it’s a little harder to use than Enhancement; you can sell me on one click of Empower being only 10 points. It’s a newer power, so they may still be working out exactly what to charge for it. But why, pray tell, does this thing also get an 8 movement with Leap/Climb (a 10-point POG with a movement spec that puts figures 10 times its cost to shame?!) and Barrier?! Freaking Barrier?! It’s even got a tiny bit of range! Holy cow. For 10 points, this thing can pump up your melee damage by one AND block your opponent’s line of fire. I’m pretty sure it’ll do your taxes for you and take out the garbage too. It might as well; it does everything else apparently. It’s ridiculously efficient. Man, this is the first click that the first click of all other support figures need to be measured against, I guess…

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7. Aldrich Killian (#008) 35 Points (Common–Iron Man 3): He’s cheap, but he’s also capable of altering the board. Aldrich has only four clicks, but man, those clicks can be game-changing in certain situations. His Attack Special (A NEW WORLD IS DAWNING: Opposing characters within 8 squares can’t use Additional Team Abilities.) shut down certain Meta builds for a while (back when Ghost Rider could use Heroes for Hire to attack roughly 8 billion times each turn), and Barrier is almost always useful. His enhanced Support special (EXTREMIS TREATMENT: Aldrich Killian can use Support. When he does, a character healed through this use of Support modifies its attack and damage values by +1 until your next turn.) also means that, with a lucky role or two, he can completely flip a game on its ear in one turn. Only two keywords, but Soldier (Why does he have Soldier while Savin has Scientist again?!) means he can get into some shenanigans with his buddies Brandt and Savin, not to mention a host of figures from other sets. And if you are playing an Extremis A.I.M. team, his Trait (FATHER OF EXTREMIS: Friendly characters using the Extremis Explosion power affect characters and terrain within 7 squares instead of 5.) can really make his Extremis Brutes and Mercenaries devastating to deal with.

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6. Tony Stark (#006) 50 Points (Common–Iron Man 3): Just an awesome support piece who can be dangerous if left to his own devices. For a long while, he only rated two stars on HCRealms.com (Editor’s Note: His rating is now four stars out of five), and all I could think was “Man, these cats must not be playing the same game that I am. Cuz in the Heroclix that I play, Enhancement and Outwit for 50 points is damn good!” Add in Energy Explosion, 17 Defense with Willpower, a Promotion mechanic that lets him turn into a 75 point dial and 6 range with the Avengers Initiative Team Ability, and suddenly he’s not just a support piece, he’s a legitimate third attacker in most 300 point games! His sculpt is awesome as well (taken from some storyboards from the movie, I believe).

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5. Odin (#020) 350 Points (Chase–Thor: The Dark World): Full disclosure: I thought Thor: The Dark World was the best superhero movie of the year. I had some issues with Man of Steel, and I liked Iron Man 3 well enough, but Thor was where it was at this year (I didn’t actually get to see Kick-Ass 2; maybe it sucked, maybe it was great–I have no earthly idea. First one was pretty good though.). Tom Hiddleston stole the show as Loki, of course, but I don’t think Chris Hemsworth gets enough credit for the pathos he generates with Thor. But enough about the movie–this is about the movie’s Heroclix, dammit!

Odin has a 200 point version that’s well worth playing, but in epic games, this Odin is a beast. He has the Alpha Strike of all alpha strikes (GUNGNIR: Once per game, give Odin a double power action and make a ranged combat attack targeting the highest-point opposing character anywhere on the map. For this attack, Odin’s combat values are locked, the attack can’t be evaded and the attack roll can’t be rerolled by friendly characters. After actions resolve, deal Odin 1 unavoidable damage.), and you can’t hide from it. Super Senses and Stealth will not save you, as he ignores Hindering Terrain for targeting purposes, starts with a 12 Attack with Pen/Psy, 19 Defense with Invincible and Running Shot with 12 Movement and 9 (9!!) range with two targets and 5 raw damage. Power Cosmic TA keeps him out of reach of cheap Outwitters and such. You’re paying quite a bit, but damn, that’s nasty. And you can usually say this about any 350+ point character, but man, if you give him Angrir’s Hammer… ouch (EDITOR’S NOTE: You can say that about any character. They don’t have to be 350+ points. A 35 point character plus Angrir’s = Pain Train.). The All-Father is a forced to be reckoned with, but it’s that unique Trait that really makes him special. Obviously, Odin isn’t gonna affect the Meta at 350 points, and that’s fine. Not every piece is gonna be about that. But he might be the funnest piece to field on this list (although an argument can be made in that respect for one of the rares from this set–but we’ll get to that in a second!).

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4. War Machine (#016) 220 Points (Rare–Iron Man 3): Wow. He IS the War Machine. Edward Shelton once described this piece as having “everything you want, when you want it” on Dial H for Heroclix, and he wasn’t wrong. His Trait (WANNA BE THE WAR MACHINE?: At the beginning of your turn choose one of the following that you did not choose last turn: Energy Explosion, Penetrating/Psychic Blast or Ranged Combat Expert. War Machine can use that power until your next turn.) plus the fact that he sees through Stealth with the Avengers Initiative all but assures that you’re going to get damage through when you absolutely need to. The fact that he can Duo Attack as well with his Attack Special is just sick. His native Attack never gets above 11, but that’s still above average; his damage starts at 4 and eventually he gets Prob on his own attack rolls! Just beastly. I would have loved one click of 18 Defense, but his 17 Impervious will serve him well. We’re starting to break into a run of figs that you can competitively build around.

Duhg

3. Duhg (#015) 125 Points (Rare–Thor: The Dark World): Okay, this guy may be even more fun to play than Odin. He’s awesome. His Trait (A MOTLEY ARMY FROM ALL NINE REALMS: When building your force, if Duhg is the highest-point character, other characters that share a keyword with him also have the Duhg’s Army keyword.) is what gets everyone all hot and bothered, but his dial is actually pretty tremendous! At various points, he Charges, Sidesteps and Flurries, all the while leading his troops into battle with Leadership. He hasn’t been “broken” yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone finds a way to do that eventually.

The other thing I love about this character is just the total randomness of his existence. He’s in the movie for all of two seconds and has, like, zero lines. He reminds me of how toy companies would take, like, the fifth alien from the Cantina scene in Star Wars and make hugely popular action figures out of the character simply by giving him a name and a backstory on the back of the figure’s package. That’s basically what Marvel and WizKids did here, only they turned him into one of the more innovative pieces we got this year.

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2. Iron Man and War Machine (#018) 200 Points (Chase–Iron Man 3): Basically taken from this exact scene, this piece is a fantastic figure that has become sneakily easy to Merge into with the release of Invincible Iron Man (Cough–125 point War Machine! Cough). 11 Attack plus Energy Explosion with a 7 Range and 3 targets can be devastating, especially with the 2013 rules updates to how EE works. Even more so with Duo Attack. Later in the dial these guys get Pen/Psy, followed by Pulse Wave. Even better, one of their two excellent Traits (TRYING TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER: When Iron Man and War Machine use the Duo attack ability, you may give them a ranged combat action instead of the second attack.) lets them use those abilities WITHIN a Duo Attack. That’s pretty sick. Then you look at their defense; 18 with Impervious, combined with their other Trait (WATCH EACH OTHER’S BACKS: When Iron Man and War Machine do not have two tokens, Iron Man and War Machine can use Energy Shield/Deflection.), and all of the sudden these guys have a 21 Defense value against ranged attacks while standing in Hindering. You really can’t do better. So their hard to hit, and they bring tons of damage themselves. That was a winning combination when Heroclix first debuted, and it’s still a winning combination today. The fact that they’re on a single base is also advantageous for certain other abilities (Like Rescue’s Carry Trait) as well. Very deadly piece.

IMIP

1. Iron Man and Iron Patriot (#017) 300 Points Experienced Version (Chase–Iron Man 3): I’ll make this short and sweet–everything I just said about Iron Man and War Machine? This is that taken to the next level. In epic games, this is a sick, sick piece. In standard 300 point games… it’s a sick, sick piece. 2 Traits again (I’VE GOT YOUR BACK. NO, I’VE GOT YOUR BACK: Iron Man and Iron Patriot can use Energy Shield/Deflection and Defend. Iron Man and Iron Patriot can use the Sharpshooter ability and may target non-adjacent characters with a ranged combat attack even when they are adjacent to an opposing character. AND THIS LONE GUNSLINGER ACT IS UNNECESSARY…YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS ALONE!: When Iron Man and Iron Patriot use Duo attack ability, each attack may use 2 targets instead of 1 target and one of their attacks may be a ranged combat action instead.), and they’re both basically SOUPED UP versions of the ridiculously awesome Iron Man and War Machine Traits! They even added another target! Four freaking targets? And they rotate through Pen/Psy, Pulse Wave and EE just like IM & WM? It’s like they took the already awesome Chase Duo from the Target set and said, “Okay, yeah, but MORE.”

Whew! Alright, that wraps up the list! Here’s to hoping this year’s movie sets match or even exceed what we got in 2013 (I’m looking at YOU, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, Godzilla & Guardians of the Galaxy!).

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to post YOUR lists in the comments below.