Wait… That’s Not Superman!! Actually, It’s More Like 16 of Them… (Or, a Top Ten Set Review for Superman/Wonder Woman!!)

Oh, so you didn’t think there were enough versions of Superman in SLoSH, eh?

Oooooh, it’s good to be back. Today, we’re going to dive into the just released Superman/Wonder Woman DC Heroclix set! We haven’t seen much from the DC side of things in a little while (even for a huge Avengers fan like myself, this summer featured perhaps a bit too much face time for the ever-assembling heroes), but that’s about to change as the first of two straight DC-focused sets has just dropped!

Before we get into the individual pieces, though, let’s discuss…

Some Notes About the Set

Some General Notes About the Set:

–While there are some individual standout pieces (who we’ll obviously get to in a moment), Superman/Wonder Woman is definitely a step backwards in terms of overall power level. Not that this really comes as a big surprise–I think WizKids has been deliberately doing this for a while now, starting all the way back in May with Avengers Assemble. It seems like WizKids has been making a concentrated effort to dial back the game’s Power Creep, and with that in mind, Avengers Assemble featured a ton of 9 and 10 Attack Values, as did the Limited Edition Age of Ultron Organized Play set that proceeded it this summer.

(Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the outlier–that set was absolutely LOADED with Meta power pieces. Holy $#!t was that a dynamic set.)

Superman/Wonder Woman goes about containing Power Creep in a different way, I think. You see Attack Values of 10 or 11 quite often, and many pieces start with 4 or even 5 Damage top dial (I mean, it’s called Superman/Wonder Woman, so you’d expect some decent Damage Values). But if you look closely, many of the best pieces have simple Standard Power sets on their first click, and don’t get any elaborate, gamechanging Special Powers until Click 2 or Click 3.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Less Special Powers on Common & Uncommon pieces is another conscious design decision by WizKids, and it’s something we should see more of going forward–but they’re doing that to sort of clean the game up a little bit and make it less complicated, not so much as a counter to Power Creep.]

Let’s do a quick case study with NFAOS056 Nick Fury (a Super Rare from the last set) and SMWW064 Green Light (a brand new Red Son Chase from Superman/Wonder Woman).

Nick Fury SR

Nick Fury’s got great stats for his cost (120 Points), every sort of Improved Targeting you could realistically expect and an absolutely killer Trait. Beyond that, his Special Damage Power (WATCHER’S EYES TO SEE SECRETS: Nick Fury can use Probability Control. Give Nick Fury a free action and choose a power that an opposing character within range and line of fire can use. That character can’t use that power until your next turn.) appears right there on his top Click. Fury is already a Meta staple and will stay that way until he rotates out in two years (assuming WizKids doesn’t find a way to nerf him between now and then).

Green Light

Green Light has decent stats for his cost (90 Points) and a somewhat useless Trait unless you are planning on putting together the swarm team to end all swarm teams, but he’s also been blessed with an unbelievably powerful Special Attack Power (Box Within A Box Within An Infinite Number Of Boxes: Green Light can use Barrier. When he does, instead of placing markers normally, you may choose a single base opposing character within range and line of fire and place a blocking terrain marker in each unoccupied square adjacent to the character. That character gains earthbound/neutralized until your next turn. At the beginning of your next turn before removing the markers, give the chosen character an action token if it’s adjacent to at least three of these markers.).

That’s a power that could quickly eat someone’s lunch; it’s a power that’s so useful that apparently WizKids had to make sure that you can’t access it until Green Light’s 3rd Click. Keep in mind, Green Light has a 17 Defense with just Toughness top dial, so it’s not impossible for someone to hit him so hard that never really gets a chance to use it.

This is a common theme throughout this expansion. If you look at a character’s card from this set and see an awesome Special Power, I’ll guarantee that that character doesn’t get to use said power until they’re at least halfway to being KO’d.

–In that same vein, there’s a lot of great Common dials in Superman/Wonder Woman that look great when examined as a whole, but when you look at that starting Click, they give you kind of a sick feeling in your stomach. What?! Common Superman has an 11 Attack with Super Strength, 18 Defense with Invincible and the JSA Team Ability and 4 native Damage top dial?! AND he has 8 clicks for just 100 Points?! Sign me up!!

Well… he also just has Leap/Climb for Movement (doesn’t even have the Wing Symbol) and no Willpower of any kind. He also doesn’t have the Justice League keyword, either, so he’s not the easiest guy to throw in a Build.

It seems like some of the recent rules overhauls are trending towards making it very difficult to play both an Entity and a Resource Attachment on one character (although your guess is as good as ours at this point as to what WizKids really intends to do there), so fixing things like “no move-and-attack top dial” are going to be a little more difficult going forward.

–Or not. Did I mention that NO ONE IS QUITE SURE EXACTLY HOW TO PLAY THIS GAME AT THE MOMENT?! I actually tried explicitly asking whether Entities and Resource Attachments could be used by the same character at the same time on the WizKids Event System Rules Forum, and instead of posting an answer, their rules folks just e-mailed this:

Morpheus 2

Seriously, someone might want to get on that.

–From an aesthetic point of view, the sculpts are more subtle in this set. It doesn’t have the abundance of translucent flash that, say, Flash had, but the articulation is phenomenal. It seems like WizKids gets better every set at depicting motion–just look at Krypto’s lil’ cape if you don’t believe me!

Alright! Enough notations. Let’s get into the…

Top Five HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

This seems excessive...

The fire seems excessive…

5. SMWW019B BrutaalUncommon Prime175 Points: Very much a “does what it says on the box” sort of figure. His top Click is absolutely murderous (Running Shot, Pen/Psy, Invincible AND Shape Change), but he only has conditional Willpower via a Trait (basically, you have to be on your opponent’s side of the map–not always easy, but hardly impossible). His Attack Value also stays consistently high throughout his entire dial (once the game gets going, it’s not hard to keep him at a 12 Attack unless your playing against Nighthawk Prime), and his third Trait makes him really tough to Outwit (SPAWN OF APOKOLIPS: Brutaal can use Super Strength. Opposing characters can’t target him with Outwit unless it is granted by the Superman Enemy team ability.).

The only thing I really don’t like here is that even at 175 Points, Brutaal is REALLY top-heavy; pushing him to Click 2 is fine, and Click 3 is still misery for your opponent, but if Brutaal ends up on anything after that, his effectiveness goes way down unless you are very close to your quarry–there is a HARD transition from heavy ranged hitter to close combat beatstick when you get to Click 4. There’s things you can do to compensate for this when building your team of course, but it’s something you will have to be mindful of as you’re playing him. Having said that, his nigh-unOutwittable top dial Invincible should help keep him in that first-3-Clicks-sweet spot long enough to put a serious hurt on whoever you’re playing.

Yes, occasionally Green Lanterns sneeze, and no, it's not pretty...

Yes, occasionally Green Lanterns sneeze in space, and no, it’s not pretty…

4. SMWW035 Green LanternRare180 Points: His dial is actually somewhat similar to Brutaal’s, except Green Lantern turns into more of a gunner down dial. His main advantage over pieces like Brutaal is that he can resurrect himself via his awesomely-named Trait (THE GREEN WILL NOT LET ME DIE: The first time each game that Green Lantern would be KO’d, instead turn him to click #5, then for the rest of the game when Green Lantern clears action tokens, you may heal him 1 click. This ability can’t be ignored.).

Lana Lang

3. SMWW029 Lana LangUncommon50 Points: Lana makes this list just for her sheer value. You get three Clicks of support-y powers like Empower and her Special Attack (THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW: ALL THE SHOCKING DETAILS… FULL COVERAGE AT 8: At the beginning of your turn, you may choose an opposing character within 4 squares and line of fire. Until your next turn, that character’s combat values can’t be increased or replaced with a value higher than its printed values.) THAT IS EVEN BETTER THAN NIGHTHAWK PRIME’S TRAIT*, since it also stops replacement values!!

(*This statement assumes that Lana Lang starts her turn within four squares of the opposing character you wish to shut down. Oh, and it also assumes the targeted character doesn’t have Stealth, and isn’t hiding behind another character, or a wall, or is sitting on a different elevation, since Lana needs line of sight, and–oh, wait a minute. Lana can only do this to one opposing character, whereas Nighthawk stops your opponent’s entire force from increasing stats… SIGH. Okay, I guess it’s not nearly as good as Nighthawk Prime’s Trait. But it’s still pretty damn useful.)

So that’s a decent amount of supporting abilities–maybe not entirely enough to justify her 50 Points, but not bad. But then, if she takes just three damage (whether through pushing damage or just absorbing enemy attacks, which would be even better), she morphs into a pretty good tertiary attacker with Wing Symbol, Charge, B/C/F, Super Senses and Toughness, which she keeps FOR FOUR MORE CLICKS!! That’s right, you get 7 quality Clicks for the low, low cost of 50 Points! It’s like they pulled a dial from Hypertime into the future, made it more useful but kept the point cost the same.

"Yep. Just out here in deep space... posing."

Yep. Just out here in deep space… posing.

2. SMWW013B Captain AtomCommon Prime130 Points: The good Captain here offers a top Click that is almost identical to Brutaal’s (the Movement Value and Damage Value for Captain Atom is 1 less) first Click, except that Captain Atom adds in Indomitable and he costs 45 Points less!! Brutaal does have some built-in Outwit protection, but not 45 Points worth. I mean, before you get too wrapped up in the fact that Brutaal does 1 more Damage than Captain Atom, remember that you could actually play, say, Captain Atom and Fast Forces Fitz (who brings lil’ H.E.N.R.Y. with him) for just about the same amount of points!

Clark Kent

1. SMWW026 Clark KentUncommon55 Points: One of my favorite pieces from the set. Clark has a pretty good Reporter Trait (THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW: YOUR PLANS: At the beginning of your turn, you may choose an opposing character within 4 squares and line of fire. Until your next turn, that character can’t be given power actions.)–and remember, he has the Superman Team Ability so he can see through Stealth–he starts with Stealth and Prob and, on his back half, has the ability to summon a Superman Token with Hypersonic Speed and Super Strength.

WizKids has done an awesome job designing these “Token Creator” pieces, and I hope this is a sub-theme they continue in the future!!

Okay! That’s a solid group of honorable mentions, which can only mean that it’s time to start counting down the…

Top Ten Twelve Figures in SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN:

So, while there isn’t necessarily as many Meta pieces in this set as there were in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., there are twelve more figures worth spotlighting. And hell, it seems like I can never just narrow it down to ten anyway. So like Tony Stark likes to say… here goes nuthin’!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Wrong universe, moron.]

Concept art from Peter Jackson’s studio-thwarted ‘King Kong 2: Electric Bugaloo.'”

12. SMWWG005R TitanoSuper Booster75 Points: On a different character, Leap/Climb and Close Combat Expert would be a pretty sub-standard power mix. But with the new Giant Reach rules established just a few days ago by WizKids in their DesignInsight column, Titano here now has the ability to make a close combat attack from 3 squares away. Which means he can activate Close Combat Expert from three squares away. Suddenly your 75-Point investment essentially has the equivalent of the ability to Charge 4 Squares with a 10 Attack and 3 Damage AND activate CCE on top of it.

But we’re not done. Throw Lois Lane on your team (she’s only 45 Points, shares the Metropolis keyword with Titano, brings a Stealth-busting Outwit, a 6 native Movement Value, is REALLY tough to target at range AND has a Stop Click if you’re also playing a Superman) and suddenly, because of Titano’s first Trait (MONKEY SEE LOIS, MONKEY DO: When a friendly character named Lois Lane moves, after actions resolve Titano can be given a move action as a free action to move up to the same number of squares. When a friendly character named Lois Lane makes an attack targeting an opposing character, after actions resolve Titano can make a close combat attack as a free action.), you have a Colossal Robot Gorilla who can cover up to 9 Squares in a turn and STILL activate Close Combat Expert!!

Let’s see what this looks like as a Build:

Titano 2

Team Name: Metropo-lease Put Me Down!!

Theme: Metropolis

Map Choice Preference: Nothing specific, although the easier it is for Lois to actually move around on her own–remember, she can’t have lines of fire drawn to her by opposing characters unless they’re within 2 Squares or she’s adjacent to a friendly character, so you don’t have to worry about ranged attacks picking her off–the easier it will be for Titano to move and attack.

Roster:

SMWWG005R Titano – 75 Points

SMWW047 Lois Lane 45

SMWW049 Superman 175

=295 Points

What This Build Does: In a no-Resource environment, this should be a pretty competitive Build. You can actually split Lois and Superman up and be fairly confidant nothing will happen to Lois. Just make sure that when Lois grants Titano a free movement, DO NOT finish Titano’s move action with him adjacent to Lois if you can help it. Other than that, feel free to move Lois up, Outwit any bothersome dampeners on opposing figures and then bring the boom with Titano, all in the same turn.

The SR Superman from the same set is a close combat beast with one problem (well, one main problem, at least. There are several others that combined to keep him off of this list.)–he only has Sidestep for move and attack on his top Click. After you split him off just a bit from Titano and Lois, if your opponent choses to come after Supes, no problem–he possesses  a long dial, great stats and the “Odds Are Against Me” running Trait that lets him build up tokens he can cash in for free attacks. Plus, as we stated, Lois and Titano can cross a map in a hurry.

If they come after Lois first, assuming they can even get close enough to hit her, her dial ends on a Stop Click that lets you physically place Superman in any adjacent Square AND lets that Superman use Defend.

As far as Lois goes, she just barely missed the cut on my list, particularly since this was the only Build I really liked her for. I know, the same could be said about Titano–they kind of need each other–but Titano’s really doing the heavy lifting here between the two of them, and his Stop Click (COLOSSAL INDIFFERENCE: Titano can use Toughness. If Titano began the game on the 20-point starting line, he can’t attack smaller characters except via Colossal Retaliation. When this power is revealed due to damage taken from an opposing character’s attack, stop turning the dial. This power can’t be countered or ignored.) can’t be countered or Ignored AND his Attack Special grants you at least one last smackdown (COLOSSAL RETALIATION: TWO-FIST PUNCH: Give Titano a free action if no other Colossal Retaliation power has been activated this turn and choose an opposing character that attacked Titano or damaged a friendly character since your last turn. Place Titano such that he can make a close combat attack targeting the chosen character, then make two separate close combat attacks targeting the chosen character each with an area of effect that includes all other characters within 2 squares of the target. Hit characters are each dealt 3 damage instead of normal damage.).

(Btw, if you actually have Chase Red Son Superman, go ahead and disregard everything I said about the SR Superman and just use him.)

I can NOT believe our Tommy Guns are not taking down this gigantic tank!

11. SMWWG006P War WheelSuper Booster15 Points: War Wheel is here because it has my favorite Colossal Retaliation power, which just happens to be it’s only Trait: (COLOSSAL RETALIATION: CRUSH WITH GIANT SPIKES: Give War Wheel a power action if no other Colossal Retaliation power has been activated this turn and choose an opposing character that attacked War Wheel or damaged a friendly character since your last turn and occupies the same row or column as War Wheel. Place War Wheel in any 4 squares in the same rows or columns that contain both all of War Wheel and the chosen character. Make a close combat attack whose area of effect is all characters in those rows or columns between where War Wheel began this action and the squares it currently occupies. Hit characters are each dealt 2 penetrating damage instead of normal damage.) It’s also here because it costs just 15 Points. 15 freaking Points!! But beyond the Trait, hell, just try finding a Bystander Pog with Indomitable and a 10 Attack Value for 15 Points. Now find one with Sidestep, Toughness, 3 Damage and a 7 Range!! Go ahead, find one. I’ll wait.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Actually, I will not wait. We’re like 2500 words in and still have a lot of ground to cover. On to Blazing Atomic Skull!]

Atomic Skull

10. SMWW054 Atomic SkullSuper Rare150 Points: For 150 Points, you kind of get exactly the sort of stats and power mix you might expect. Running Shot with a mediocre Range (6). 11 Attack, which is fine, but nothing you haven’t seen before. 18 Defense with a dampener. Pretty standard. 4 Damage top dial is nice, but certainly not unheard of. Then you read his one Special Power, which sits in his Attack slot for his first four Clicks (IONIZING RADIATION: Atomic Skull can use Energy Explosion, Poison, and deals penetrating damage.). Wow! He’s the first character I can think of that deals Penetrating Damage with no ifs, ands or buts.

You want to give him a Bulldozer Construct and have him blow someone with Impervious off a rooftop? All of his Knockback damage is penetrating. That vanilla Poison his Special grants him? He might as well be a Red Lantern, cuz that’s all Penetrating damage. Any attack or effect you can think of with him deals Penetrating damage, which basically means he doesn’t have to be afraid of anyone.

Krypto

9. SMWW050 KryptoSuper Rare50 Points: Possibly the most efficient character in the set for his cost (#2 on this list might have an argument, but we’ll see). Need to bust some opposing Stealth? Krypto has the Superman Ally. Super Senses? He comes packing Precision Strike. Shape Change? His Special Damage power sniffs that out (KRYPTONIAN NOSE: Krypto ignores opposing character’s Shape Change.).

His Trait (LOYAL COMPANION: When a friendly character named Superman, Superboy, or Supergirl within 8 squares takes damage from an attack, after actions resolve you may place Krypto in a square adjacent to the attacking character.) is mildly helpful depending on whether or not you’re building a literal Super-team around him, but his Movement Special (SIC ‘EM, BOY!: Krypto can use Charge and Plasticity.) not only allows him to go on the attack when you need him to, but it also adds Hypersonic Speed to the list of opposing abilities that Krypto takes a bite out of.

No, I’m not ‘Apokolips Bane!’ I’m Brimstone, dammit!

8. SMWWG003R Brimstone Super Booster75 Points: 7 Clicks, Sidestep, 6 Range with an incredible top dial Pulse Wave Special Attack Power (THROWING FIREBALLS: Brimstone can use Pulse Wave. When he does you may choose an unoccupied square within 6 squares and line of fire and he can use Pulse Wave as if he occupied that square.), Penetrating Poison and the obligatory Colossal Retaliation and Indifference powers.

The Pulse Wave is what earns him this spot though; we’ve seen similar versions of this sort of Pulse Wave before (the GOTG Movie Starter comes to mind), but it’s always been limited in some way (usually it’s only usable once per game). The fact that he can do it every turn puts him at #8.

The least

The least “creeper-ish” image of Vartox. Yes, I said the least.

8.  SMWW052E Vartox Super Rare150 Points: This is where the Meta-relevant pieces really start. At 150 Points, Varty gives you Hypersonic Speed, Probability Control and the chance to do a boatload of damage (7) with his Super Strength. His Trait (THE REST OF THE HYPER-POWERS: Give Vartox a free action and choose a standard speed, attack, or defense power that you didn’t choose during your last turn. Until your next turn Vartox can use that power instead of the power in that slot on his dial.) also gives him a wide amount of sneaky versatility. Oh, your opponent just got three damage through on him and thinks he doesn’t have to worry about Hypersonic Speed anymore? Sorry, Vartox can get it back whenever he wants. And so on.

He’s not Zombie Super Skrull, but he’s not far off either, and he saves you 20 Points in your Build, which could be the difference in a Meta-Build between playing a Resource and not playing a Resource. If you can manage to keep him top dial, he will be a nightmare for your opponent.

No, seriously, any second now, I’m totally gonna fly!

6. SMWW065E SupermanChase175 Points: Hypersonic Speed, 11 Attack with Super Strength, 18 Defense with Impervious and 4 Damage top dial. His Trait (CRIMINALS BECOME “SUPERMAN ROBOTS”: When Superman hits an opposing character with a close combat attack, put a Lobotomy token on its card. Give Superman a power action and remove any number of his Lobotomy tokens to have Superman use Mind Control as a free action targeting those characters that had at least 1 token removed, regardless of range or line of fire.) lets him Mind Control characters he’s hit FOR FREE and, if none of that works, he has TWO Stop Click Specials (WINTER PALACE: Superman can use Barrier, Regeneration, and Super Senses. When this click is revealed due to damage from an opponent’s attack, stop turning the dial, and after actions resolve give the attacker an action token. If you can’t, deal that character 1 penetrating damage.) that actually token the attacker that hit you, which should give you time to actually USE your Regeneration.

Unless your opponent is able to finish Supes off with Pulse Wave, the Red Son is almost impossible to kill.

First Born

5. SMWW037 First BornRare200 Points: So all article we’ve been talking about all the great changes WizKids made to Giant and Colossal characters, and the fact that First Born is Giant-Sized helps him out immensely. He doesn’t fly, but he’ll still have no problem with elevation.

He Charges up to 6 Squares on his first Click, and his Giant Reach gives him the ability to cover two more. He starts with 4 Damage and both Super Strength AND Exploit Weakness, so now he has a Threat Range of 8 Squares and up to 7 Penetrating Damage (assuming he picks up an Ultra-Heavy on the way).

First Born is also the beneficiary of the Divine Aura running Trait (DIVINE AURA: First Born can’t be targeted by Outwit or Probability Control from opposing characters unless the targeting character has a higher point value or has the Deity keyword.) that many of the Deity-keyworded figures in this have, which means that unless your opponent built their team around NFAOS050 Thor (the only Meta-worthy Deity piece I can think of at the moment, although I’m sure I’m forgetting a few) AND found a way to give her Outwit, First Born’s powers aren’t going anywhere (trust me, your opponent isn’t crazy enough to play a piece that costs more than 200 Points, unless he’s going with a Team Base or something, so the first clause of First Born’s Trait isn’t really gonna matter most of the time). And with two Clicks of Invincible right at the top, First Born can soak up Damage like nobody’s business.

His second Trait (SCION OF HATE: All characters within 3 squares can use Battle Fury. Friendly characters adjacent to First Born modify their attack values by +1.) is interesting as well. He becomes even MORE intriguing when you play him with a Resource like, oh, I dunno, the Indigo Power Battery. If you give First Born the Indigo Wall Construct, depending on what Map your using, you can make it almost impossible for First Born to be shot at from range. Which makes it that much more likely that the 8-Square, 7 Penetrating Damage Charge I mentioned earlier might just be an Alpha Strike. It’ll be like playing Ghost Rider  in the Meta of mid-2013 all over again, only First Born might even be BETTER.

Eclipso

4. SMWW055P EclipsoSuper Rare25 Points: Even with the new Equip rules and all the chaos that has caused, Possession is still a Meta-worthy enhancement. And of the two Possessors in the set (Red Son Brainiac also Possesses), Eclipso is the best.

Right off the bat you have access to Stealth, Precision Strike, Impervious or Shape Change. Those are all great powers. Eclipso’s stats are also pretty good, as you might expect, since you’re gaining access to a 250 Point dial. Down dial, turning onto some Pen/Psy or Probability Control could be the difference in a game that’s running long.

Red Son Wonder Woman

3. SMWW066 Wonder Woman Chase165 Points: Quite simply, Chase Red Son Wonder Woman is Point-for-Point the best Primary Attacker in the set. For only 165 Points you get Hypersonic Speed, Super Strength, a 19 freaking Defense Value with Invincible and she deals at least 4 Damage when she hits.

She also has a Stop Click and a Trait (COMMUNISM IS SOCIAL JUSTICE: When a friendly character with a lower point value than Wonder Woman is targeted with an attack, modify the attacker’s attack and damage values by -1.) that’ll do wonders in terms of keeping supporting characters alive.

A brutally efficient package.

The 90's are back, and they brought their Superman with them. (Artwork by Sassophilaco sassophiliaco.deviantart.com)

The 90’s are back, and they brought their Superman with them. (Artwork by Sassophilaco sassophiliaco.deviantart.com)

2. SMWW041AE Superman BlueRare 50 Points: Oh boy, do I love me some 50 Point Taxi/Supporting Characters. Supes Blue is definitely that, but he has Secondary Attacker power sets and stats, too. He also can protect anyone he Carries from Pulse Wave, which is not nothing in the Meta.

While your opponent will need a 20 to hit him from range top dial, Supes Blue can always be pushed onto his second Click, where he has Hypersonic Speed, 3 Damage and Perplex!

He very much reminds me of a slightly more expensive Fear Itself Loki. Sometimes, big things come in small (mostly white and blue) packages, and this 50-Pointer is a gem.

Oh look–you missed another roll! Guess I’m only giving out Tricks this year, which is a Treat. For me.

1. SMWW060 Mr. MxyzptlkSuper Rare70 Points: I know. You thought WizKids learned their lesson about making pieces that offer ridiculous levels of board control for under 100 Points. Well… they didn’t.

Mxy here is not as broken as Felix Faust was this summer, but that doesn’t exactly mean he’s fair, either. His ridiculously useful Trait (MESSING AROUND WITH THE ODDS: At the beginning of the game, roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled and place the rolled result on this card. Give Mr. Mxyzptlk a power action if there is no d6 on this card, roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled and place the rolled result on this card. Whenever any dice that can be rerolled are rolled (including as part of a 2d6 roll), you may remove the d6 from this card and replace one of those die results with the rolled result from the d6 removed from this card.) essentially means that every d6 or 2d6 roll goes through you. I cannot emphasize how much paralyzing stress this puts on your opponent’s decision making, particularly if you’re sitting on a 1, 5 or 6.

With a 5 or 6 showing, anyone on your team with either Shape Change or Super Senses has a backup d6 roll that will automatically allow that ability to succeed. Need to really hit that Leadership this turn? You’re golden. Roll a six and a one and just miss? Sub in that 6 sitting on Mxy’s card and all of the sudden you have a Critical Hit.

Conversely, your opponent will be DEATHLY afraid of attacking anyone if you have a 1 showing. Normally, you would have about a 1 in 36 chance (roughly 2.78%) of rolling a Critical Miss. But if you are able to change either of the d6 rolls to a 1 with Mxy, suddenly those odds shoot up dramatically (each d6 your opponent rolls has roughly a 16.6% chance of ending up on 1),

And these are just the most basic and obvious uses. Even a 3 or a 4 can be gamechanging if it guarantees your opponent misses that Super Senses roll or subs in for a 1 to make sure you hit with an attack. There’s really a bunch of sneaky plays you can make with this guy–and we haven’t even talked about his 18 Defense with Super Senses, his Quintessence Team Ability or any of his 3 Specials, including his Pulse Wave Special Attack Power on Click 2 that allows you to completely incapacitate any opposing characters you hit while avoiding giving any damage or tokens to your own folks.

This is the best figure in the set, and it’s not close.

 

Agree? Disagree? Post your opinion by leaving a comment, and let us know which pieces are in your Top Ten!

Some Assembly Required (Or, A Second Opinion on the Top Ten Figures in Avengers Assemble)

Avengers Assemble Ninwashui Byline

Some General Notes About the Set:

  • It seems like Attack Values are being subtly lowered by WizKids in this set. There are a lot of 10 Attacks in this set where 11 seemed to be the norm for sets like Flash and Trinity War. Thankfully, they seem to be compensating for this by subtly ramping up the powers. For example, In another set I think AVAS007 Mettle would have just given AVAS006 Hazmat Mastermind and called it a day. Instead, in this set he actually teleports to her side from any distance whenever she is attacked to absorb damage for her. That’s a huge step up in effect.
  • All of the Movie Avengers got both a regular version and an ultra powerful Chase version. Black Widow with Thor’s Hammer. Steve Rogers with a Nova helmet, Tony Stark with… armor so thick it doesn’t move around very well. Some of these ideas were better than others.
  • The new cosmic Avengers from Hickman’s recent 3-year run are in the set, but for the most part their dials underwhelmed me. AVAS041A Starbrand, AVAS043 Abyss, AVAS054 Nightmask, AVAS056 Ex Nihilo, and AVAS036 Captain Universe all have great looking sculpts to go with dials that are so underpowered they will never be played at any real tournament. I mean, obviously not every figure is going to be a tournament piece, but c’mon. “Ooo, watch out! My 190 point Ex Nihilo is going to grow grass around your Ragnarok! It will be angry grass!” Sigh…
  • Not only were the new Cosmic Avengers underpowered for their cost, they were underpowered compared to what they do in the comics. For example, in the comics, Star Brand knocked the Hulk into orbit and almost beat the rest of the Avengers roster combined (including Thor and Hyperion) by himself. In HeroClix Wiz Kids decided that amount of power translated into having a 10 attack and… 3 damage. 3 damage? Really WizKids? Really?

Top Five HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Hulk Last Titan

5. AVAS064E Hulk – He is the best No-Tactics 300 point one-man army in Modern Age. Rivaled possibly only by… himself (AAOU008 Hulk). While I think he would lose against his movie version one-on-one, I think the Hulk in Avengers Assemble would do better in a tournament for two very important reasons. First, his powers can’t be countered. Secondly, his Stop Click can’t be ignored by Pulse Wave. Add to that his Movement Special Power that lets you Charge 10 squares up a mountain while carrying an ultra heavy object, and this Hulk is really good at what every Hulk should be good at… Smashing!

Echo_as_Ronin

4. AVAS010 Echo I love figures with Super Senses and Shape Change. I tend to use those figures to tie up my opponent’s big hitter because no matter its Attack Value, those defenses will always be just as effective.

So I love that Echo has has Super Senses and Traited Combat Reflexes and that in addition to those two powers she can copy a power, like, say, Shape Change, from someone on your team or even an opposing figure. Sure she can copy any Attack or Damage power (even Telekinesis, which is weird for that character), but copying Shape Change gives her a third defensive ability which is just awesome for a character under 100 points. Plus, unlike another recent, cheap defensive powerhouse (JLTW034 Element Woman), she actually has a decent offense. 11 attack (with her own Perplex) and Blades/Claws/Fangs.

I’ll take that all day. Her downside is her lack of Willpower and the fact that while she has Stealth, she doesn’t ignore Hindering Terrain on movement. Both issues can generally be solved by a good taxi. In a No-Tactics environment she’d do well with Chase AVAS065 Black Widow.

Avengers Age of Ultron Captain America

3. FFCA006R Captain America Whenever I see a character cost 50 points, I know my writing partner Hypefox tends to pay attention. How he missed this guy I’ll never know. Didn’t he remember my Trinity War Top Ten Article where he said we’d be including Fast Forces figures in our Top Ten Lists from now on

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Absolutely! But I decided not to use any Fast Forces: Classic Avengers pieces BECAUSE THEY’RE ASSOCIATED WITH AGE OF ULTRON, NOT AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!]

Uh… what?

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Look at the set symbol for any Avengers Assemble piece.]

Um, okay. It’s a slanty “Avengers-A.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Now look at the set symbol for any Age of Ultron SLOP piece.]

It’s Ultron’s face.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: And as we all know, all of the Fast Forces pieces feature the Fast Forces symbols–which looks kind of like a blocky, italicized “6,” plus a smaller version of the set that it’s supplementing.]

Oh crap. So, since the Classic Avengers feature the Fast Forces symbol with an Ultron head in the middle…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: They would be considered a supplement to Age of Ultron, not Avengers Assemble. Which is probably why the Age of Ultron Wave 1 Instructions allowed the use of the Hank Pym ID card from the Classic Avengers pack.]

Hmmm… it’s just…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, I know. You’re kind of pot-committed at this point, so you might as well just go with it.]

<Ahem> So, there isn’t too much to say about this version of Cap that isn’t obvious. His special power will let another Avenger move 4 or 5 squares without that figure taking an action and that can just be huge. But the real interesting thing about this guy is that he can do that from any distance. You can leave him in the (relative) safety of your starting area and he is just as effective. If you do want to bring him into battle, for 50 points his Precision Strike will give him a chance to hurt characters well above his point cost.

Black Widow AVAS

2. AVAS001 Black WidowI love figures with Super Senses and Shape Change–did I mention that before? And Natasha’s Shape Change is especially good. It’s Traited so it can’t be Outwitted and if you hit make the roll then she can’t be attacked for the rest of the turn. She could have 5 other figures around her and they will just have to sit and stare at her. Making that roll a few turns in a row could be back breaking to your opponent in terms of lost actions.

Her Damage Value is low for a Primary Attacker, but she makes a great Secondary Attacker on any team. Willpower, Stealth, Improved Movement, Perplex, Precision Strike… everything else you would want besides a high Damage Value. If you can compensate for that, then she will do quite well.

1. AVAS037 Manifold  He is the #1 best way to Carry around groups of Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D or Hydra keyworded figures. Only a lack of willpower kept him out of my Top Ten. For more on this figure, see this article.

Top Ten Figures of the Set:

Red Wolf AVAS

10. AVAS051 Red WolfWho is this guy? I have to say, I’ve read a lot of comics and I’ve never even heard of him. He has conditional willpower and good defense to go along with both Super Senses and Combat Reflexes. Which is okay as it is.

But then I looked at his offense. In the right circumstances, this guy can deal more close combat damage than any Wolverine I’ve ever seen in HeroClix. Is that a wooden spear he’s holding, or a light saber? He can Flurry for two shots at 3 damage. Then he can drop his pet, Lobo, who can attack with Blades/Claws/Fangs. That’s up to 12 damage without a critical hit or even using his Super Strength… and he’s only 80 points! Did this guy beat up Odin in the comics and I just missed reading that issue?

Avengers Age of Ultron Iron Man

9. AVAS050E Iron Man – Even in today’s game, 18 defense with Defend in nothing to sneeze at. It was good when they released CT043 Invisible Girl and it’s still good now. Add to that fact that any adjacent Avenger also gets Defend and you’ve got two ways to exploit Iron Man’s Trait. He could Carry around pieces with Combat Reflexes or Energy Shield/Deflection–AVAS049E Captain America is a great example of that. Or, he Carry Avengers that have the Tiny combat symbol and have a Defense Value higher than 18 like FFCA002R Wasp.

Beyond his Defend tricks, this Iron Man also packs 4 damage, Hypersonic Speed, Indomitable, Invincible, and Ranged Combat Expert. He could fly in to punch an opposing figure and land one square away while dropping a figure like AVAS010 Echo to tie up the figure he just smashed. Then, the following turn, he can follow up with an Ranged Combat Expert attack for big damage. Always use your Hypersonic Speed to strike and then leave him behind the rest of your team. He doesn’t take a hit very well at the 125 point level.

Something else that lead to his high placement on this list is that at his 125 point level he makes a great ID card call in figure–especially at the end of his dial.

Charles_Barton_(Earth-616)_0001

8. AVAS048 Trick Shot – Compare him to DP036 Bullseye and I think he’ll compare favorably. We all remember how good Bullseye was when the Deadpool set came out. Trick Shot is 6 points cheaper and has much better defensive powers. Instead of Bullseye’s Probability Control, Barney Barton gets Stealth and Shape Change, which means he ends a lot of strikebacks before they begin.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m not sure if “strikebacks” is a word, but I like it.]

But, even better then comparing the two, play them together–they share two named keywords (Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts, the latter of which opens up all kinds of possibilities). Any opposing figure will be full of holes before they even know what’s happening.

3082549-black+swan+from+new+avengers+v3+6

7AVAS045 Black Swan – Probably the coolest new character to be introduced in the last few years. She has also been given one of the coolest dials in her point range.

Her opening movement power states, “HURRY TO EACH THREATENED WORLD: Black Swan can use Phasing/Teleport. When she does, after actions resolve she can make a close combat attack as a free action.” This means she can move up to 10 squares through buildings, mountains, water, or whatever else is in your way and still make an attack by dropping an ultra heavy on someone’s head for 7 damage! When she gets targeted by opposing teams she has Invincible, which eventually turns into Impervious. And remember, her powers can’t be countered thanks to her Power Cosmic Team Ability.

However, the power that has everyone excited about her is “YOU HAVE FAILED TO STOP THE INCURSION: Unless this click is revealed due to taking damage from an opposing character, immediately deal Black Swan 1 unavoidable damage. At the beginning of your turn, if Black Swan is the only character on your force, KO all opposing characters. This power can’t be ignored.” As of yet, no one has thought of a way to get around the formidable restriction on that power and activate it on a less random basis, but people are working on it.

In the mean time, I like to think of it a nice bonus on an already efficient figure. 

Thor_Odinson_(Ragnarok)_(Earth-12131)

6. AVAS053B Ragnarok – Marvel’s Thor/Terminator combo character. For 200 points you get a ranged Primary Attacker with all of the attributes you’d want. 12 attack, 5 damage, Indomitable, Impervious, Shape Change and Running Shot. You get great stats and great powers for a bargain price. Being Outwittable is really his only true weakness.

This best part of his dial isn’t even anything I’ve mentioned above, It’s his keywords. Specifically the “Robot” keyword. They got a huge boost this set (more on that later). Ragnarok may the best character in Modern with that keyword.

Which means you’re going to be seeing him a lot.

new-avengers-27

5. AVAS052 Ronin – This spot on my list was going to be either Ronin or AVAS066 Goliath. I ended up going with Ronin. Here’s why. If either figure needs to make a ranged combat attack, they both will likely turn into AAOU009 Hawkeye. So that’s even, or even a little slanted to Goliath due to the heal when replacing to Hawkeye.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A “little slanted?!” That’s up to a 3-Click heal!!]

But, If Ronin or Goliath were to be in a close combat battle then I would rather have Ronin (or even Echo), hands down. Another thing to keep in mind is that compared to the Stealthy Ronin, Goliath is a Giant-symbol-ed target when moving across the board.

Ronin brings to the table Charge, Blades/Claws/Fangs and either Exploit Weakness or Flurry depending on what the situation demands. That’s some high powered offense for only 109 points. Later in the dial Ronin also has some nice Outwit. Also, until set retirement later this year he can change into Blade from Amazing Spider-Man and use Regeneration if he has taken too much damage. That’s another option Goliath doesn’t have.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Okay, that’s a good point.]

Rick Jones

4. AVAS067 Rick Jones – This spot on my list was going to be either Rick Jones or AVAS047 Master Pandemonium. Even though Master Pandemonium was the king of sealed at my local venue, I went with Rick Jones due to his much lower point cost and the fact that Rick doesn’t have to use a power action to resummon his Bystander Tokens when they are destroyed.

What Rick Jones brings to the table for 75 points is 10 range and three bolts (wow!) with Telekinesis, Psychic Blast, Mind Control, Perplex, a 19 Defense from ranged attacks, an 11 Attack Value and a never ending stream of his own personal tie up Bystander Tokens.

If that’s not enough to impress you, he’s a got a unique Trait that states: “GALACTIC BURST OF IMMOBILIZING LIGHT: Once per game, when Rick Jones isn’t on his first click, give Rick Jones a double power action when he is adjacent to an opposing character. Give all opposing characters on the map an action token. For each opposing character you can’t give a token, deal that character 1 unavoidable damage.”

Loki AVAS

3. AVAS046R Loki – 120 points of Asgardian support figure with no Willpower or damage reducers or move-and-attack and a starting damage of two? Why do I like him again?

Because he is awesome. To be more specific, he’s the best defensive character in this set, and sometimes, the best offense is a good defense–especially if that defense makes your opponent waste turns.

His Trait reads, “MASTER OF ILLUSIONS AND TRICKERY: Loki can use Shape Change and succeeds on a result of 4-6. When an opposing character targets Loki with Outwit or Perplex, he can use Shape Change as if he were targeted with an attack. When Loki makes a successful Shape Change roll, he can’t be targeted for the remainder of the turn.” So Loki is just waiting for an excuse to shut down your opponent’s attacks against him this turn. You could try to Outwit his Super Senses or Perplex down his defense, but you’d be stupid to do so. That Perplex or Outwit might shut down your attack before you even declare one!

Offensively his damage is low, but you probably won’t be making many standard attacks. His Mind Control Special Power reads, “TO TRICK MY BROTHER…AND HIS FRIENDS: Loki can use Mind Control. When he does, he isn’t dealt damage from it and, if he targets only a single character, modify Loki’s attack value by +2 and he may target a character that can use Battle Fury.” He has double targets, 8 range, 13 attack (with the bonus) and he can use that to Mind Control pretty much any piece(s) in the game–2 at a time–without taking feedback damage for it! When your opponent only has one piece left on his team, then you can feel free to go and Poison him.

If you are looking for ideas for teams I have two suggestions:

"Stop trying to hit me AND HIT ME!"

“Stop trying to hit me AND HIT ME!”

Team Name: “Try to Hit Me… If You Can.”

Theme: Asgardian

Roster:

AVAS046R Loki120 Points

(w/ ATA055 Asgardian) — 5

IIM103 Absorbing Man153

(w/ ATA055 Asgardian) — 5

=283

Which means you have 17 Points left to add in whatever Bystander tokens or Resource pieces you want. Hammers would be fun. But the funnest part of this Build is watching your opponent’s attacks do absolutely nothing turn after turn.

Or…

"AAUGH!! Not the Blue Battery again!"

“AAUGH!! Not the Blue Battery again!”

You can work him into the old Blue Battery team with Superior Spider-Man (you’d be taking out Captain Marvel and some Constructs). Give Superior Spidey the Decoy and Loki the Net and just have fun with your opponent finally hitting only to have the Blue Emotional Spectrum Power take it away again. I call it my “Charlie Brown and Lucy Kicking the Football” team. Feel free to call your opponent a “Blockhead”. Click here to see more info about using Superior Spider-Man and the blue battery.

Juston Seyfert AVAS

2AVAS020 Juston Seyfert – Okay, so, everyone remembers GG026 Mole Man and what he did for monsters. Well he and his three similar friends DP043 Black Talon, GOTG003 Mantis, and IIM015 Tony Stark all share a similar power. They can all Mind Control certain types of friendly figures and, if they make the Mind Control roll, assign that figure one action.

When WizKids made Juston Seyfert, they made him similar to those other guys except THERE IS NO ROLL REQUIRED AND ZERO CHANCE OF FAILURE!! And the cost to activate–a Power Action for Juston or a Close or Ranged Combat Action for the others–is exactly the same!! That alone makes him better than all of those other guys I mentioned.

At 40 points he is also cheaper, too! Then, just to add insult to injury, they let Justin give any Robot a full move AND a close or ranged combat attack all with one action. That is two actions instead of the one that everyone else ever made like him before gets. That’s not power creep, that’s a power leap!

If you want team ideas go to the HCrealms units section and get a list of every robot in Modern with a point value between 140 and 260. They are now suddenly all tournament viable. All of them. You don’t even have to try and pick a good one. Honestly, sometimes it’s funner if you pick a crappy one–it stings your opponent more when you win.

Wtf?! How in God’s name did I lose to a team featuring Ladytron and Computo?!”

Expect to see Juston on Top 8 army lists until he is retired.

3D Man AVAS

1AVAS013B 3-D Man – For 90 points you get a Hypersonic piece with 9 movement, 11 Attack, 18 Defense, and 3 Damage. Those are pretty good stats for that point level. He’s missing Willpower, but what he does have is the game’s first Perplex that can be used three times! Even the ASMS102 Dr. Octopus Arms Relic only lets you use Perplex twice! The drawback is that he can only target himself and that Outwit ruins his day. The good news is that with his 9 Movement, often times he can strike before your opponent can get within Outwit range.

This gives him some incredible utility. For example, you can increase your Damage by one and Movement by 2 and then suddenly you’ll have a near carbon copy of the 110 point FL037B Dark Flash Prime! Or you could add +1 to Damage and +2 to Attack and land a massive 13 attack 4 damage Hypersonic blow. Or you can do what I would likely do all game and just Perplex his defense to 21… every… single… turn! That’s a 90 point character that can get to a the highest Defense Value that has ever been printed on any HeroClix figure ever. The Spectre, Galactus, and Dr. Manhatten all seem like great company to be in for a 90 point character!

However he uses his Perplex, he is still a great scout for the other 210 points of your team. His trait reads, “SEE A PERSON’S TRUE FORM AND INTENT: Opposing Characters within 6 squares and line of fire can’t use Shape Change or Stealth. Friendly characters within line of fire may modify their defense values by +2 when targeted by Mind Control.” That means that as long as he’s around your whole team will be ignoring opposing Shape Change and Stealth. That would absolutely wreck the defense for a ton of different characters and it’s not even an action, he just has to be standing near the opposing team, just nodding and saying “What’s up?”

Everything I’ve listed above is still not enough to make him my number one figure in the set. What makes him the top figure is that he is also the best ID Card character to call in that is under 100 points. When you summon him for a turn, any figure within 6 spaces of him has their Shape Change and Stealth spoiled by his Trait. Then you get to do a giant 13 attack value 4 damage Hypersonic hit. And after all that any friendly figure next to him when the dust settles gets the Triathlon inspiration which states, “Modify speed value by +1. Modify attack value by +1 when making a close combat attack. Modify defense value by +1 against close combat attacks.”

That is a plethora of effects for a 5 point investment and that’s why he is the best figure in the Avengers Assembled set.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Alright! We hope you enjoyed this counter look at Avengers Assemble! We’ll have an upcoming local game announcement here in the next couple days, followed by some new articles next week! Thanks for reading.]

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the Comments section below!

Modern Is the New Silver!! (Or, The Best Replacement Figures for Recently Retired Meta Staples!!)

For some pieces, it's just time to retire...

For some pieces, it’s just time to retire…

So, WizKids announced recently that they will be rotating (read: RETIRING) a whole chunk of recent sets from being Modern Age eligible. Why? For starters, they do it to promote the idea that we who play Heroclix need to keep buying new Clix products to compete in Modern Age games (although getting us to buy new Clix hasn’t been much of an issue so far, I’d wager…), and two, they need to keep new pieces away from unintended and possibly Meta-breaking interactions with older figures. Okay, there’s waaaay more reasons than that, but those are two big ones. Two other reasons, however, are a little bit more subtle.

Before we get into the meat of this article (the figure comparisons), we need some context, so we’re going to look at game design for just a few paragraphs here. Now, every time a game like Heroclix releases new products, it evolves just a little bit. And it does so in two interesting ways. First, collectible games of all types–if they stick around long enough–all go through phases where they deal with “Power Creep,” where each successive set release brings with it elements which, on average, are slightly more powerful than those released in the previous set or expansion, which in turn was just a little more powerful than its predecessor, and so on. For example, you can compare almost any Modern Age figure with a similar figure from Infinity Challenge, the first ever set, and see that things have changed drastically. Back then, an Attack Value of 8 was a fairly common top dial stat. Now, 8 AV’s are reserved for the deep end of cheap support figure dials. And so on and so on.

This should explain everything...

This should explain everything.

Power Creep is just a natural by-product of game designers trying new and different things with the intention of making their game better with each release. The very much missed WoW TCG from Cryptozoic was constantly dealing with Power Creep, and at one point they actively made it known that they were consciously lowering the power of Quests (a card type that’s kinda like Lands in Magic) in future sets because that particular card type had crept to absurdly powerful levels at that point in the game’s life cycle.

Sometimes, the opposite can also be true. Occasionally, the designers look back at some of the early cards/figures/whatever and realize that they drastically under costed certain tropes in the past. They may like a certain mechanic or effect of a particular piece, but there not about to reprint it as is, since they now know its effects to cost ratio is to high as is. To solve this, the designers basically create a new version of that element that contains almost the exact same effect yet costs slightly more to play. I call this “Cost Correction.” Magic: The Gathering is constantly doing this.

One of the famous early examples of Cost Correction in gaming was when Magic’s R&D department took a look at many of the staples from the early Alpha/Beta/Unlimited/Revised era as they started preparing a rotating block of “Core” sets from which players could draw familiar cards to combine with the current expansion set inventory to create Type II (read “Modern Age”) decks. The folks in charge of balancing the game quickly decided that a card like Lightning Bolt, for example, was too powerful (3 Red Damage for 1 Red Mana) to stay in the Type II environment, so it was replaced with the Ice Age common Incinerate (3 Damage and the prevention of Regeneration for 1 Red Mana and 1 Colorless Mana) by the time Magic published its “Fifth Edition.”

Great...

This is great…

... but just about as good!

… but this is still pretty damn good!

This was awesome, because it allowed the folks in charge of Magic to fix an under costed staple (quick Red damage dealing) with something that would still effectively to the job for a little more cost. Incinerate was still a great card and was widely adopted. Problem solved (well, until it was deemed that Incinerate was too good, and it was replaced with a different staple, and so it goes).

The savvy tournament players in Magic weren’t just the players who came up with “killer combos” by exploiting certain card interactions; they were actually usually the ones who could spot both the Power Creep cards AND the Cost Correction cards that were still extremely efficient for their cost. See, a lot of times, players can smell Cost Correction pieces a mile away, and they don’t want any part of them. Incinerate wasn’t universally accepted when Fifth Edition rolled around.

Sometimes they’re right; but sometimes, the Cost Correction version of something is still really powerful and should still be used regardless of the cost.

"Back in my day, if you wanted to shoot a bolt o' lightning at a feller, it cost ya just 1 red mana, and if'n ya had a Mana Flare, ya got change!!"

“Back in my day, if you wanted to shoot a bolt o’ lightning at a feller, it cost ya just 1 red mana, and if’n ya had a Mana Flare out, ya got change!!”

Okay! Enough amateur game theory lecture! Let’s apply our discussion to Heroclix! We’re going to be looking at some of the retiring staples and theorize about which–if any–Modern Age piece can take the place of the retiring figure. Then after we review the replacement candidate, we’ll decide if the new figure is better than its forebear (Power Creep), worse (Cost Correction) or about the same (uh… Static?).

SUPERMAN:

"Fly away, Superman. Fly free."

“Fly away, Superman. Fly free.”

SM001R Superman150 PointsCommon: Supes was a Meta staple waaaay back in the Dark Ages of 2011, because his base stats and mix of powers were so great. Flight, 9 Movement with Hypersonic, 11 Attack with Super Strength, 17 Defense with Impervious and 4 Damage with Outwit. One of the all-time great top clicks, especially for a Common 150 piece! Superman Team Ability means he can see through Stealth, too. Bonus! His keywords are quite pedestrian by today’s standards (no JLA?), but there was a time when Scientist teams were a thing!

Replacement Candidate:

IIM001AE Iron Man150 Points – Common: Hmmm, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Flight, 9 Movement, 11 Attack, 17 Defense and 4 Damage with Outwit! His move-and-attack ability is Running Shot where Supes had Hypersonic; I’ll actually take Iron Man’s Precision Strike over Supes’s Super Strength, but whatever. You’re mileage may vary. Finally, Iron Man has Invuln where Supes has Impervious. But Iron Man can see through Hindering Terrain AND Blocking Terrain; Supes’s X-Ray vision doesn’t work on walls like Tony’s Thermal Imaging Array does, so Mr. Stark can get up to all sorts of see-through shenanigans. Kind of a bummer for Superman. Iron Man also has much better keywords (Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Scientist, Armor and Stark Industries are all great) and he has the S.H.I.E.L.D. TA, so he can help your support guys do damage in a pinch as well. With resources and Entities, Iron Man here gets pretty filthy pretty fast….

 The Verdict: A Static replacement that features just a tiny touch of Power Creep. The Meta has become much more sophisticated since Supes was a major player, but Iron Man 001 is just as good; maybe even a lil’ better!

Pink is the new nuclear fallout.

Pink is the new nuclear fallout.

SM035 Magog172 Points – Rare: A close combat beatstick who turns into a mid-dial mid-range sniper and a back dial healer (how’s that for a powers mix?), Magog left team builders enough points to still be an effective Primary Attacker; his lack of Willpower wasn’t great, but his Trait (EXCESSIVE FORCE: Once per turn, when Magog KO’s an opposing character, after actions resolve Magog may take one action as a free action.) meant that his teams were very tough to out-action, particularly if opposing teams ran several small support figures or Bystander tokens that Magog could snipe in one shot.

Replacement Candidate:

DP057 Tiamat 255 Points – Super Rare: Tiamat cannot be stopped. He cannot be reasoned with. He’s a double-based son of a gun whose extra-action Trait (CHAMPION AND STEED: Once per turn, when an opposing character has taken damage from his attack, give Tiamat any action as a free action. When you do, after action resolve, remove an action token from Tiamat.) is as good as any they’ve ever made. With Power Cosmic, he’s all but impossible to Outwit, too, so the opposition will have to chew through his 4 clicks of Invincible–if they’re able to hit his 18 Defense!

The Verdict: Even with the dramatic increase in cost, there’s still some Power Creep going on with Tiamat. His Trait is just sick. Like Magog though, this is still more of a fringe Meta piece. But he’s a lot of fun to field.

An old movie poster for the 70's exploitation flick "Black Adam... White Lighting!"

An old movie poster for the 70’s exploitation flick “Black Adam… White Lighting!”

SM054E Black Adam – 200 Points – Super Rare: An out and out beast, Black Adam was nigh unstoppable. He had no Range, but he made up for that with a ridiculous Charge Special that let him move up to 10 spaces for a close combat attack, and when he lost that, he gained Hypersonic Speed! Not a bad backup plan! 18 Defense with a Special that lets him reduce 3 damage with his Imperious instead of 2 and an end 0f dial Regeneration that does 1 Penetrating damage to adjacent opposing figures!

Replacement Candidate:

IIM041BE Hyperion – 200 Points – Prime Super Rare: Top dial Hypersonic, same Attack (11) as Black Adam only with Precision Strike, 18 Defense with merely Invuln and 4 Damage instead of Black Adam’s 5. Also his keywords are fine (Avengers is very useful, Squadron Supreme is useless, as the only other Modern Ager with that keyword is also Prime), but Black Adam’s are great. Having said all that, Hyperion has two things going for him that Black Adam doesn’t. Power Cosmic TA and 8 Range! Also, Hyperion picks up almost every good Improved Targeting ability in the game on his second click, which actually makes the Marvel man more versatile than the heavy duty dude who sometimes runs with Captain Marvel.

The Verdict: Again, a fairly Static replacement with a hint of Power Creep. What you lose in top end damage, you more than make up for with the 8 Range and Power Cosmic TA. The Improved Targeting shenanigans are where the Power Creep creeps in.

INCREDIBLE HULK:

Now that... is a creeper 'stache.

Now that… is a creeper ‘stache!

IH102 Major Glenn Talbot33 Points – LE: The good Major here powered up Soldier teams for the last couple of years. His top dial Enhancement for only 33 Points was a bigger deal pre-Fear Itself (Splitlip now gives you top dial Enhancement for a measly 20 #$#@ing points), but even post-FI, if you wanted to play a Soldier Theme Team and you wanted a top dial Enhancer, he was still your best option. The S.H.I.E.L.D. TA he carries also has proven to be quite useful in a pinch, and if you play him on the right team, his Mastermind top dial will keep him around for a while longer than he should.

Replacement Candidate:

DP204 Secret Empire Number 9 35 Points – Common (Gravity Feed): Stop laughing! This robed menace is the real deal, and one of the best figs in the Deadpool Gravity Feed assortment. Everyone so far has focused on the fact that he has the Secret Empire keyword, and how useless that is. Well, they’re right. You can’t do much with that. But look at his SECOND KEYWORD–that’s right, it’s “Soldier!” Which means you have your Soldier Theme Team support figure back–and he can even do some damage of him own if you get into trouble. A 9 Attack isn’t great, but Penetrating/Psychic Blast means that his two damage will get through. And while he has no S.H.I.E.L.D. TA, he does have the Hydra TA, which is almost as useful for ranged attacks.

The Verdict: Even at three more points, I’m still gonna classify SE#9 as a Power Creeper! He just gives you more bang for your buck, and you still have the one keyword you need to keep it Theme!

GALACTIC GUARDIANS:

Noted Detroit Pistons fan Mole Man watching the NBA Draft Lottery last month...

Noted Prince Oberyn Martell fan Mole Man immediately after watching the Trial By Combat scene on his DVR from the fourth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

GG026 Mole Man47 Points – Uncommon: Now, you want to talk about a Meta staple? Here is a Meta STAPLE!! Hans Moleman here was the engine that powered the Shuma-Gorath monstrosities that ruled the ROC for awhile at the end of last year and early this year. How important was his souped-up, I-can-Mind-Control-a-friendly-Monster Special Power? So important that everyone’s predicting the end of Shuma as a viable Meta piece, simply because Mole Man’s going Golden Age, which would imply that Mole Man was doing the heavy lifting all along. The fact that he was a top dial Outwitter and had some close combat applications down dial was just icing on the cake.

Replacement Candidate:

DP043 Black Talon 60 Points – Rare: There really wasn’t a replacement candidate until Deadpool was released. Black Talon allows you to Mind Control a friendly character from up to 8 squares away, and he also lets you Mind Control opposing figures that have already been KO’d! Still… his keywords are incongruent with most of the teams with which you’d like to play him. I mean, Masters of Evil is okay, and Mystical has slipped a lil’ bit but is certainly still viable, but that’s it for useful keywords, unless you’re looking to dominate the Meta with a Lethal Legion team. And hey, if you are, good luck to you. Here’s the last guy to try that at a big tournament:

It takes a special kind of crazy to run Lethal Legion at a ROC...

It takes a special kind of crazy to run a Lethal Legion at a ROC…

The Verdict: This is a Cost Correction piece. But it’s a First Generation Cost Correction piece; you could argue that WizKids still is not valuing the ability to Mind Control your own characters highly enough (in one of the early episodes of The Quarry, one high level player who was an early Mole Man/Shuma adopter said that after playtesting those two together with his friends, they all came to the conclusion that the ability to Mind Control friendly characters–even with a keyword restriction–should not appear on pieces less than, like, 100 or 125 Points. Thus, Black Talon is still extremely good and he’s definitely Meta-worthy. He’s just not as balls to the wall insane as Mole Man. Jumping from 47 to 60 may not seem like much, but that 13 Point hike could possibly cost you the space you need for a resource or the exact right support piece. That’s another reason it was so key for Mole Man to be under 50 Points. He left you plenty of room to get creative–or to run a full Booklip, if you didn’t care about Theme. Black Talon, not so much…

 CHAOS WAR:

"Go ahead. Try and look this good in purple. I dare you."

“Go ahead. Try and look this good in purple. I dare you.”

CW039 Hawkeye98 Points – Rare: This is one of the most discussed pieces in the history of Critical Missives (NINWASHUI NOTE: Iron Pharaoh would beg to differ.), but we’re gonna have to talk about him at least one more time! His top dial 12 Attack with an INSANE 9 Range w/ 3 Bolts, Sharpshooter, Wildcard TA (and Thunderbolts keyword, which means that between the two you can give him almost any TA in the game), Stealth and Running Shot and 3 Damage with Leadership. If this dial cost 130 Points, it’d be worth it. He costs 98!! Insane. Great keywords (Thunderbolts, Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D. with GLA just thrown in for fun). Just stupidly good.

Replacement Candidate:

DP036 Bullseye110 Points – Rare: Right down to rarity, Bullseye is almost a clone of that silly Hawkeye piece. Running Shot with 8 Range and 3 Bolts, 12 Attack with Precision Strike instead of Sharpshooter, 17 Defense with Combat Reflexes instead of Willpower, 3 Damage with Probability Control instead of Leadership (I’ll take that deal everyday!) and some okay keywords (Thunderbolts, Assassin) mean Bullseye is gonna show up in the Meta SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!! Oh, and his Improved Targeting: The Phone Book makes it really hard to hide from him…

The Verdict: Even with all the goodness on Bullseye’s dial, this is a Cost Correction dial. Just 12 Points more than Hawkeye, but you also lose the Avengers keyword, the Spidey (Wildcard) TA and 1 Range. I think WizKids knows that they undervalued that Hawkeye by a significant amount. Bullseye they only underestimated by a less significant amount. Which, as always, means you should play Bullseye as much as you can.

FAST FORCES: CHAOS WAR:

"Hey! My eyes are up here! What? You pig! You know what? No more mutants! There! I said it. I hope you're happy."

“Hey! My eyes are up here! What? You pig! You know what? No more mutants! There! I said it. I hope you’re happy.”

FFCW006R Scarlet Witch50 Points – Fast Forces (Fixed Rarity): You know what she does; Mystics TA, Pen/Psy, Barrier, Perplex and Prob Control with an 8 Range. With Avengers and Mystical keywords (among others). One of the most used figures in ROC history, I’m sure.

Replacement Candidate:

FFDP006R Mercy50 Points – Fast Forces (Fixed Rarity): 7 Range, Wing Symbol (so she can Carry!) with Phasing, TK, Barrier and Prob top dial with Support on her second click. Her lone keyword (Thunderbolts) is also where she’ll see the most play–on a Thunderbolts team.

The Verdict: Another Cost Correction piece. We won’t see the like of FFCW Scarlet Witch again, methinks. Mercy is missing the Mystics TA AND the Mystical keyword, but she is still very playable. Thunderbolts is probably the keyword that gained the most from this set, so if you’re fielding such a squad, pick up a Mercy for some support in a bottle!

There were also several other figures you could use in this role, but none of them were as good as Mercy (Sister Sercy, I’m looking at you with your 66 Point Cost and your measly lone keyword: Blue Lantern Corps. But hey, at least her name RHYMES with Mercy’s!).

Before we finish, one final note about keywords in general. We’re coming out of an era where Avengers, GCPD and S.H.I.E.L.D. were some of the dominant named keywords, and Mystical, Armor and Monster fueled some of the best generic keyworded teams. Those keywords still offer a lot of options, but Chaos War (an EXTREMELY Avengers-heavy set) rotating out does hurt Avengers teams a little bit. New keywords that have recently become a lot stronger include Thunderbolts, Heroes for Hire and Sinestro Corps. (with Guardians of the Galaxy about to get a double boost from the movie set that just dropped and the upcoming 5-figure booster full set in due in August!). Mystical and Armor are still great generics, but Martial Artist has gotten a big boost between AvX, Days of Future Past and Deadpool, and Cosmic is set to explode with the 4 Entities that have been released in War of Light already (with 4 more to come) and, again, the Guardians of the Galaxy set that’s just around the corner (and the Collector from the GotG Target Exclusive set already offers some intriguing possibilities for Cosmic teams with his unique win condition–but more about that set later this week!)!

"I know it's hard to believe, but all I do is win! If, you know, several specific conditions are met, and I've collected my tokens--y'know what? We'll talk about this later."

“I know it’s hard to believe, but all I do is win! If, you know, several specific conditions are met, and I’ve collected my tokens–y’know what? We’ll talk about this later.”

 

So there ya go! What important retired figures do YOU think WizKids has already published replacements for? Sound of in the Comments section below!