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

"Well, this should be interesting."

“So… what’s new with you?”

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

10 BURNING QUESTIONS!!

Here we go!

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

Mistakes Were Made

Mistakes Were Made

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

10. Grey Gargoyle (Super Rare) 

9. Iron Pharaoh (Chase)

8. Crimson Cowl (Rare)

7. Rescue (Main Set Version) (Common)

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

4. Hyperion (Veteran Super Rare Prime)

3. Count Nefaria (Super Rare)

2. Absorbing Man (LE)

1. Silver Centurion (Common Prime)

While my Honorable Mention consisted of:

5. Bulldozer (Rookie Common)

4. Tony Stark (Uncommon)

3. King Hyperion (Super Rare)

2. Iron Paladin (Chase)

1. Maggia Goon (Common)

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

10. Tony Stark

9. Rescue (Main Set version)

8. Count Nefaria

7. Iron Doom*

6. Iron Man* (Experienced Common version)

5. War Machine (Rare version)

4. Absorbing Man (LE)

3. Shaman* (Super Rare)

2. Iron Pharaoh

1. Silver Centurion

With an Honorable Mention of:

5. War Machine (Prime) 

4. King Hyperion

3. Iron Man* (Rare)

2. Crimson Cowl

1. Hyperion* (Experienced version!)

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

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

"I could have told you that."

“I could have told you that, mortal.”

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

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

"Careful! I'm 'breakable!'"

“Careful! I’m ‘breakable!'”

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

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

Team Name: Nothing to See Here

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

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

IIM001AE Iron Man – 150

CATWS014 Agent Sitwell – 60

CATWS011 Maria Hill – 60

The Phoenix Force – 12

Assigned Character x2 – 6

Cyclops, Colossus, Magik & Emma Frost Fragments – 12

= 300

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

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

Look how annoying you can be with him:

Team Name: No Flights, No Tights

Theme: Mystical (Generic)

Map Choice: AvX Month 1 (Wundagore Mountain)

IIM040 Shaman – 92

IIM051 Iron Pharaoh – 110

FFCW006R Scarlet Witch – 50

FIB002 Skadi’s Warbot – 30

The Phoenix Force – 12

1 Assigned Character – 3

Cyclops Fragment – 3

=300

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q8. Can I have more questions?

A8. No.

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

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

This was the Meta in early 2013.

The Meta in early 2013.

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

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

Being John Malkovich

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

Q11. You’re welcome?

A11. I hate you.

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

 

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I’ll Get Her Out on the Falcon!! (Or, The Weekly Roundup for 03/30/2014!!)

Roundup

 

Well, looks like it’ll be another Mid-Weekly Roundup! Sorry, the beginning of this week has gotten away from me a little bit. But we’re back with the Week (and a half) that was in Clix!! Which means…

IT’S TIME FOR THE WEEKLY ROUNDUP!!

Podcasts:

Dial H

Dial H for Heroclix was new again this week (it’s ALWAYS new!) with Episode 38! Up for discussion this week are the Spoiled dials and cards for AvX Month 4 prizes along with their main topic of what the gang likes and dislikes about the current Storyline OP system. Additionally, their new Best Build Contest for April is live. I kinda like the army I cooked up, but you can check out everyone’s army (and, more importantly, the build parameters so you can construct your own entry) right here (mine is posted under the User Name “The Underneath”). By the way… the Phoenix Force is COMPLICATED! FYI.

Clixcast

ClixCast was dark again this week. C’mon guys, don’t pull a Duo Attack and just vanish on us!

Push to Regen

Push to Regen is still on its two-month hiatus. Although it’s been two months now. Hmmm…

This is Ultimate Play, b!tches!

The Quarry is back with Episode 14. Episode 13 disappeared without a trace and is currently undergoing “editing.” As to what’s being edited, your guess is as good as mine. But Episode 14 is live!


Welcome... to the ROC!

Welcome… to the ROC!

ROC:

–New Tourney announcement!

–Up to date upcoming listings, which you can find right here (minus the new announcement I just listed)!

-Clixathon results are in, and you can view them right here! (Oh, that Meta is CONSTANTLY evolving, ain’t it. Except for Brother Voodoo and Lydea Mallor. They are just CONSTANTS.)

Preview

Previews:

–Once again, every figure in War of the Light has been spoiled (in terms of their name, number in the set and point cost)!! Check ‘em out here! Also, WizKids released all the first Scenario Pack contents along with links to each month’s prizes and suggested builds.

–We’re gettin’ a rare Canucklehead in X-Men, DoFP, and his sculpt will look familiar to comic fans. He’s about as high-costing a Wolverine (156 points) as I can remember, but he’s a Close Combat machine.

–Since his name is on the damn set, you’d almost expect there to be a Deadpool Prime, right? His name is Evil Deadpool, and he’s pretty damn cool.

Entertainment News:

–Wow! What an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Lots of great guest stars, an intriguing mystery and a badass Deathlok… where has this show been hiding?! My favorite little throwaway bit was when Victoria Hand told Agent Sitwell to basically go and report to the set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Btw, if you haven’t picked up Sitwell’s Target exclusive rare fig yet, you are missing out. He’s awesome!

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

Critical Missives:

–Lots of activity on the site this week! We had:

–Ninwashui’s local tourney report for AvX Month 2!

–His followup article on what he wished he had played in the tourney along with an exploit or two for your future dominating pleasure. (Whoa! That’s an awkward sentence! Not quite what I meant…)

–And my article detailing the results of my second Build column!

Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to print here in ClixLand! See ya later this week!

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

 

 

Local Tournament Report – 3/27/14 Comics & More

Magxorn

“I will bring you hope, old friend, and I ask only one thing in return – don’t get in my way.”

 

The Format: AvX Month 1. Must use at least 1 figure from the starter. Other figures must share a keyword with the starter figure. 400 point modern. No resources, relics, Colossals.

What I played:

AVX009E Cyclops

AVX010E Emma Frost

AVX014 Magneto

Total = 400 Points

Round 1: Facing AVX006E Scarlet Witch(with Secret Avengers ATA), IIM051 Iron Pharaoh (1500 BC), IIM040 Shaman, ASM017B Brother Voodoo, GG014A Astral Dr. Strange. This was HypeFox’s team. I had some foreknowledge of the team because we hade played together earlier in the week and I helped him make a decision on which characters to use. (Really I just felt bad for stomping him last week with my sealed team.) So I knew my chances weren’t great going in, but I wasn’t about to go down without a fight. I knew my only chance was to get to the Iron Pharaoh in the first few turns. Otherwise he was going to get perplexed up and his stupid Falcon was going to just eat up my whole team. Hmm… I wonder where he got that idea? Was it here? My last minute decision to base my team around Magneto worked out better than I had planned. Even with no flight, Magneto’s TK helped me position my pieces fairly well and his pulse wave had the best chance of getting through well defended pieces like Scarlet Witch and Brother Voodoo. His traited Energy Shield made him one of the few pieces that could stand up well to a Falcon attack.

So the match starts with me walking around the mountain. I am halfway across the board when the real battle begins. Iron pharaoh is in his starting area. Scarlet Witch and Shaman are positioned apart about halfway to me. Astral Strange and Brother Voodoo come right up to my team and say hi (and block my way to getting to the other pieces.) All of my Characters have one token from walking to half map. First attack was Brother Voodoo missing Magneto. My response? I have Cyclops run up to him with a ranged attack that misses and then use a free action force blast that knocks voodoo into a wall for one. First blood goes to me. The bad news is that voodoo is on the other side of hindering terrain and now has stealth. No attack is possible for Magneto and I didn’t want to push Emma this early into the match.

Then the Golden Falcon catches up with me. Two perlexes to damage, an outwit from the Pharaoh and that’s a 1 hit KO to Cyclops. On the plus side that frees up some space for me to running shot pulse wave with Magneto next turn. I get a 5 and do 1 damage to Astral Strange and no one else is hit. In the following turns I slowly work Emma towards the Pharaoh through Her sidestep and finally Magneto’s free Action TK. Magneto continues to distract the rest of Hype’s team by dodging ranged attacks and in turn whiffing with a Pulse wave every turn. Emma gets to the Pharaoh and knocks him to Click 5, but the next turn Scarlet Witch gets through Emma’s defense and Emma is knocked to her last click. The following turn Magneto does another pulse wave damage to astral strange and finally KOs him. Everyone else was missed. Emma mind control’s the Pharaoh and uses him to do 3 to Scarlet Witch and then take one mystic back. Pharaoh then KOs Emma. Magneto finally hits on a Pulse wave and KOs Scarlet Witch. The round ends at that point. A win for Hypefox (200 to 113), but not the slaughter I thought it was going to be. Magneto had survived and was only on click 3 at the end of that game.

Round 2: Facing AVX015 Danger, WXM101 Colossus and Kitty Pryde, WXM203 Havok. (Starters sold out at my venue so my opponent wasn’t restricted to using a starter piece.) I’m not going to into the details of this match too much. My opponent was new to the game and didn’t have much experience on a map with elevation. So Wundagore mountain was very confusing. I ended up helping him with the rules and strategy regarding elevation. It’s not something I minded. We were all new to this game once. His strategy wasn’t the best that game, but in the end it didn’t really matter because his dice betrayed him until the match was all but decided. Emma and Scott each took a hit, but I didn’t lose any pieces. On the plus side, each time I play this opponent he has shown improvement.  He should take pride in that.

Round 3: Facing FFCW006 Scarlet Witch, CW049 Morgan Le Fay, AVX003E Thor, CW039 Hawkeye (with Great Lakes Avengers ATA). As the game starts I move to the high elevation on the center of the map carrying Emma. Cyclops starts up the mountain the long way. My opponent opens by TKing Thor to the edge of the mountain and having Thor do a running shot pulse wave targeting only Magneto.  He misses by one. I respond by outwitting Thor’s defense and having Magneto hit for 4 damage. Thor is on his last click. I choose not to push Emma. That might have been my big mistake. After that Morgan LeFey joins Thor my dice just go south. Thor stays alive on his last click for 30 minutes. Thor, Magneto, and Morgan LeFay just keep missing each other. On the other side of the map Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye are having no problem making Cyclops look foolish. I end up having him run away towards Magneto. I send in Emma. She gets a hit on Hawkeye and takes a Mystics damage. Then he uses incapacitate and pushes her. Now she is on an 8 attack value and can’t hit anything. It takes a while because of her defenses, but Hawkeye finally takes her out. On the other side of the map Thor is finally taken out and Cyclops is also KOed. Magneto and Morgan Lefay are left Heavily damaged. She flies next to Scarlet Witch and I go the rest of the game without being able to hit anyone. Because of Defend, Perplex, and Probability control I needed to roll two nines in a row just to do damage. After about 5 more turns Magneto is KOed.

What I learned

  • I hate Iron Pharaoh…
  • Magneto did really well for me tonight. I will field him again soon.
  • Emma Frost did decently, but she has a weakness to mystics damage and needs a taxi due to her lack of willpower.
  • Cyclops was always the first to be KOed. I won’t be looking to play him at the 100 point level again very soon. If I did a similar team again soon I would sub in 100 point Jean Grey or Tab app Wolverine.
  • I hate Iron Pharaoh…
  • I hate not flying…
  • Morgan LeFay is still cool.
  • I hate when my dice go cold… Thor’s 17 defense seemed like a million. Magneto’s Pulse wave couldn’t hit more that a 15 defense.
  • I hate Iron Pharaoh… (I really hate that guy. Where is a watch list when you need one?)

Something Happening Here!! (Or, The Build 2!!!)

Let's... GET IT ON!

Let’s… GET IT ON!

The Game: AvX Month 1 (Finally!!)

The Stipulations: 400 Points, Modern Age. Must use at least one figure from an AvX starter; the rest of your army must share a keyword with that figure (I have the Avengers starter). No relics, no resources (that’ll come next month!).

The Build: Finally, AvX Month 1 is here!! About bloody time (our venue’s been awesome through this, but he had distributor issues I wouldn’t wish on anyone)!! We actually played for Month 2’s prizes under the Month 1 rules (since we got Month 2 before Month 1 and–oy, my head hurts!).

This game goes tonight, so y’all should have an update tonight or tomorrow about how things went, but for tonight, after much deliberation, I have chosen:

-AVX006e Scarlet Witch w/Secret Avengers ATA
-IIM040 Shaman
-IIM051 Iron Pharaoh
-ASM017b Brother Voodoo
-GG014a Astral Dr. Strange

Why: One big advantage I (and, I guess, everyone else at my venue who wanted to peek online, as the info’s been out awhile now) have in building this team is knowing what maps we’ll be playing on, since we’re running AvX so much later than most other shops. As soon as I saw one side of this month’s map, I fell in love! Why? Well…

Essentially, as you may have already guessed, this team is trying to take advantage of Wundagore Mountain! Hideous, dirty, nigh-broken advantage. You know that Anna Kendrick song “Cups” from “Pitch Perfect?” “I’ve got my ticket for the long way round/The one with the prettiest view.” Well, my strategy is to make my opponents sing that song all night.

Wait, what does a movie about a college a cappella group have to do with this map?

“Wait, what does a movie about a college a cappella group have to do with this map?”

Shaman is the key. Once per game, he can be given a free action to turn off flying for everyone but himself. Take another look at that map and tell me that looks fun with no fliers. Beyond that, everyone phases on this team except for Shaman, but I’m not concerned about that since he’ll be the only hero left in the sky his “No Flights” spell.

To take even more advantage of this, I’ve included Iron Pharaoh. One of his biggest drawbacks is that his “I See Everything” Golden Falcon can only move three spaces a turn, so it takes a hot minute to get into position. Well, now I have that hot minute. And while I don’t have much move and attack (Brother Voodoo has it in a roundabout way with his Mind Control SP), after, like, turn 3, I should have a major positioning advantage over my opponent. I have two top dial Probs as well as 2 Perplexes and two characters who either start with Support (Scarlet Witch) or get it mid-dial (Shaman). My attack values hold mostly steady at ten with some figs going up to eleven (before Perplex), but Pharaoh’s Fight the Future Trait should go off a decent amount given how ubiquitous I’m expecting AvX Cyclops and AvX Magneto to be (they all share the Ruler keyword).

Shaman himself does three damage and he’s a great secondary/tertiary attacker in this format. And Astral Dr. Strange is another plus 1 to Map Roll in addition to being a general nuisance, and AvX Scarlet Witch is nearly broken just on her own.

So with all this “brokenness, what are my weaknesses? Who DON’T I want to see tonight?

-Ghost Rider: He’s a strong piece already, but I don’t need someone with Move and Attack and Improved Movement: Hindering Terrain, Elevated Terrain. coming after me.

-AvX Spider-Man: For the same reason. He can Move and Attack with ease; my dirty Shaman trick doesn’t matter to him.

-Fear Itself #007 Iron Fist: Again, he can move and attack (Charge) while ignoring both Hindering and Elevated Terrain.

-Swarm team (particularly, like, S.H.I.E.L.D. with Agent Sitwell, or something); basically, while there’s a decent amount of hindering terrain and a tiny amount of elevated terrain on the Savage Land side of the map, my whole strategy is built around winning the map roll and taking my foes to Wundagore. So any swarming THEME TEAM is really what would scare me, because they’d probably get a bigger map roll bonus than me.

-Any piece that can carry and phase or carry with Improved Movement of some kind. That would be completely unacceptable!

 

Okay!  More analysis versus actual performance after tonight! Here goes nothing!!

.

You’re Simply the Best!! (Or, The Best Everything of 2013!! )

Tina Turner

With apologies to Tina Turner, now that we’ve wrapped up January and are preparing for the REAL start of the Heroclix year in February (with the exception of many venues across the country who are FINALLY catching up on Month One of AvX–although, God help me, not mine–January has been a Dead Zone for Heroclix), it’s time for our final list of, well, lists, to wrap up the year that was.

2013 saw more figures released than any year previous. No, I don’t have mountains of data to back that up, but holy Lord, look at everything we got this year:

Amazing Spider-Man (February)

Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game (March)

TabApp Elites for Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel (Various)

No Man’s Land (Various)

Iron Man 3 (April, although I don’t think the Target stuff hit ’til May)

Teen Titans (May)

Man of Steel (June)

Wolverine and the X-Men (August)

Batman Classic TV (September)

Superman Quick Start Kit (September)

Thor: The Dark World (October)

Fear Itself (All Summer, wrapped in November for most venues)

Batman: Arkham Origins (November)

Invincible Iron Man (November)

That’s quite a bit, eh? Oh, but wait–we’re not done yet. Not even close!!

Star Trek: Tactics 2 (January)

Star Trek: Mini-Game (April)

Iron Maiden (May)

The Fellowship of the Ring (June)

Pacific Rim (July)

Bioshock Infinite (July)

Kick Ass 2 (July–man, they love July releases, don’t they?)

The Lone Ranger (August)

Star Trek: Tactics III (October)

The Hobbit: Journey to the Lonely Mountain Strategy Game (October)

The Two Towers (November)

Mage Knight: Resurrection (November)

DOTA 2 (November)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (November)

WizKids's projected revenue from their 2013 Heroclix releases.

An internal company diagram of WizKids’s projected revenue from their 2013 Heroclix releases.

I mean, are you kidding me?! 28 releases in 2013 alone?! No one has time to sort through all those figures, much less collect them! Well, that’s where we come in. Pull up a chair, find something fruity to drink, and let’s get to it. These… were the best Heroclix of 2013!!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Bolded entries were the winner in their respective category; any other entries were the runners up. Which is why they weren’t bolded. Cuz I only break out the Bolding Stick… for Simply the Best!! Ahem.]

BEST 5-FIGURE SET (Marvel or DC):

And this still isn't every Spidey from Amazing Spider-Man.

And this still isn’t every Spidey from Amazing Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man

Wolverine and the X-Men

Fear Itself

This was very close. Fear Itself broke ground as the first 5-Figure Set that could only be obtained through tourney play, and it was the hottest thing going the first two months it was played; Teen Titans gave us the first Team Bases (some would argue that this was a huge debacle, but whatever) and some really underrated figures (Omen, Psimon, 81-Point Wonder Girl); Wolverine and the X-Men gave us Phoenix 5 Chases, some cool Primes and some even cooler Team Bases (Side Note–C’mon, the Shi’ar?! How cool is that? Never thought I’d see WizKids make a full-0n Shi’ar Team Base! And Lilandra doesn’t even go on it! I mean, she makes it totally broken, but she doesn’t actually go on it! Outside of Gladiator, I knew, like, zero of these figures, and I LOVE the cosmic Marvel stuff. Props to WizKids for having the guts to not only make a Team Base full of figures that many players probably didn’t know about, but to then also make that piece overpowered as–well, it’s overpowered.); and Invincible Iron Man kind of snuck up on everyone and ended up being waaaaaay more powerful than folks expected:

Well hello there, Mr. Silver Centurion!

Well hello there, Mr. Silver Centurion!

But Amazing Spider-Man was the first set we got in 2013, and it was the best by just about every measure. I don’t know if WizKids has every produced such a well-rounded group of figures. You want power pieces for the Meta? Brother Voodoo and Ghost Rider ate up the Meta to the point that, outside of Spiral and the JLA Team Base–who, let’s remember, might have been a couple of the most broken pieces not just in Heroclix history but in the last 25 years of gaming– they were singled out in the Watchlist as needing immediate change lest they ruin all of Heroclix with their unstoppable nature. (Side Note 2–How did Brother Voodoo escape the Watch List? He was one of the most broken things on there!! All they did that even SLIGHTLY affected Brother Voodoo was alter the HfH ATA, and that was only so Ghost Rider couldn’t kill entire armies by himself whenever he felt the need for vengeance! Brother Voodoo don’t care about that! His Spirit Brother is still going to possess the shit out of you! For free. Go read those Watch List changes again. It spits on a dozen different figures and strategies until it comes to Brother Voodoo, but then it almost apologizes for having him on the list in the first place. So the question must be asked… Just what does Brother Voodoo have on WizKids?) And fast forward 3 months after the Watchlist, and Alyosha Kraven (the rare Prime) is now powering Animal teams in the Meta with Lizard. It gave Spidey book fans plenty of supporting characters they’ve been waiting for (Kaine! Madame Web!) along with a ton of fantastic options for Sinister Syndicate teams.

Alas... still no Alfred Molina Doc Ock for some reason.

Alas… still no Alfred Molina Doc Ock for some reason.

And we finally got some damn Monsters!! Dracula, Living Mummy (ridiculous for his points), Werewolves, Vampires and Morbius, oh my! We even got some Maximum Carnage pieces! Thematically, this set just hit it out of the park. And just when it seemed like there couldn’t possibly be any more new versions of Spider-Man to make, WizKids goes and gives us EIGHT freaking Chases, all with the Morph ability! And top to bottom, there are almost no duds in the set. Good gosh, I’m two paragraphs deep talking about the great figures of this set and I still haven’t mentioned Hannibal King, Doctor Druid, Shocker, Carrion, Terrax, Nightmare, Spider-Man 2099–all these figs would be the highlights of most releases, and they’re practically an afterthought here. And Franken-Castle! We have a freaking Franken-Castle! How is the world–and how are we as a species–not better for having a Franken-Castle?!

No matter what format you play, there was something cool for you in ASM. And that’s why it wins this category.

BEST GRAVITY FEED (Marvel or DC):

The real Man of Steel.

The real Man of Steel.

Iron Man 3 (Target Exclusive)

Batman: Arkham Origins

Thor: The Dark World (Target Exclusive)

This was also pretty close. The movie sets tend to be a little bit larger, with a variant Target-exclusive version, so they have a distinct advantage over the regular set Gravity Feeds. ASM’s Gravity Feed is filled with above-average pieces, but nothing that I would call truly great; Teen Titans had Rose Wilson and nothing else worth writing home about; WXM had a few great pieces like Jean Grey and Shi’ar Guard, but not much else, and the IIM Gravity Feed actually featured an entire run of crappier versions of the some of the main set staples (I’m not gonna go on a rant again about Gravity Feed Rescue, but, man, she sucked so hard!). Batman: Arkham Origins was pretty awesome, except good luck pulling a rare. Distribution definitely seemed off. Still, Deadshot, Shiva, Deathstroke, Joker… there were some great figs here. Deadshot and Shiva especially are great for their points.

Among the three movie sets (well, six if you want to split each one into the Target Exclusive/Non-Target Exclusive versions) we got, the Target Exclusive Iron Man 3 set was the best top to bottom. The rares were all good–actually, War Machine is great, and the Chase (Iron Man and War Machine duo fig on single base) is severely underrated. Especially now that 125 Point War Machine exists as a thing for Splitting and Merging (and is pretty great in its own right). Moreover, the Commons were spectacular; Tony Stark & Aldrich Killian have factored into the Meta at various points through their run. Hell, even 75 Point Rookie Iron Man is beastly for his points! Simply put, this is the Gravity Feed set with the most figs that I’ll still be playing 12 months from now.

BEST GRAVITY FEED (Non-Marvel or DC):

This is what Colossals are supposed to look like.

This is what Colossals are supposed to look like.

Pacific Rim

The Fellowship of the Ring

Iron Maiden

If you’re gonna release a Gravity Feed set where there’s only, like, 11 0r 12 different figures, you could do far worse than to release an all-Colossal set where GIANT FREAKING ROBOTS BATTLE GIANT FREAKING MONSTERS! We’ve talked about Slattern before; but the other figs in this set are just plain cool. Great sculpts, and this set opens up so many Epic Game options. You can fill out a 400, 500 or 600 Point Build in no time. And while, outside of 600 Point Slattern, I wouldn’t say that any of these figs are ridiculously good, they’re all fun to play.

The Fellowship of the Ring is a good set with one broken fig–Saruman. His Mind Control special rivals Omen’s for its reach and scope; it can’t really be defended against. He’s already made some impact in ROC, I believe. As has Iron Maiden, which, despite being another short set, is filled with interesting power sets. ROC has really shown a spotlight on a lot of these crazier sets–you really need to be prepared for almost anything when you play one of those.

BEST INNOVATION:

The Worthy

OP Exclusive Sets (Fear Itself)

Team Bases

The Mandarin’s Rings

The excitement generated by the first few months of Fear Itself trumps the dominance of the Team Bases, which I’m not sure WizKids has perfected yet. Fear Itself got a ton of players who normally wouldn’t participate in Organized Play into their local venues, since they’d be missing out on an entire set otherwise. That means a lot. Team Bases are a cool concept that were so initially overpowered that there was no point in playing a Modern Age tournament without one (specifically the JLA). They’re in a better place now, with several worth playing but none that are head and shoulders above the others (although Shi’ar and Hellfire Club are close).

Plus, that excitement you got when opening that month’s allotment of FI boosters was second to none. Once everyone had most of the set (by Month 4 or 5, usually), yeah, it became a bit tedious, but Fear Itself was the hottest thing going for a while.

The Mandarin’s Rings are the first Resource components distributed through regular boosters (at least that I’m aware of). They’re fun to collect, and are great Relics in their own right, but you still need a Power Plant to get them to their full potential.

BEST TEAM BASE:

Okay, what was in her stupid box again? All of the Crime Syndicate or something? And how did they send her box back in time 8000 years?

Okay, what was in her stupid box again? All of the Crime Syndicate or something? And how did they send her box back in time 8000 years?

Trinity of Sin

Shi’ar

Hellfire Club/New Mutants (tie)

This was a close one, and my final selections are taking the Watchlist nerfs into account (otherwise, this would have been the JLA all day. That base is still powerful–Edward Shelton recently piloted it to a second-place finish at a ROC event–but these other bases didn’t lose as much as JLA did to the Watchlist changes.). But the Trinity of Sin is just all kinds of wrong. Plus, each one of its pop-offs can shut down a specific staple–Prob, Outwit or Perplex (although with Quintessence, you’re probably only worried about Prob or Perp). And, if you have the Trinity of Sin, that means you also have access to The Question and Pandora for any Modern Age Mystical builds you want to compete with–those are two of the strongest pieces with that keyword right now (particularly the Question–he’s already shown up on some major tournament Top 16 teams).

The Shi’ar Team Base is almost as disgusting, with great stats, one of the best pop-offs in the game in Warstar and the fact that it possesses a plethora of ways to decimate your opponent’s strategy. Does your opponent have really efficient taxis to ferry his big hitters around? Manta turns all fliers into non-carrying walkers. Did they stack their team with a ton of cheap figs in an attempt to overwhelm you? Just get the Assest Dial to Starbolt and his three target Energy Explosion. And so on. There just aren’t a lot of great ways to go at this piece, because it has so many options available to defend itself.

Hellfire Club and New Mutants also feature a bunch of trickeration backed up by some sneaky damage potential (and the Black King may actually be a BETTER pop-off than Warstar, if that’s possible).

BEST VEHICLE:

Unsafe at any speed.

Hey Warlock, maybe next time we morph some seat belts, eh? You just killed all of Self’s Friends.

Warlock

Batmobile (Batman Classic TV)

I’m mainly doing this category to highlight the fact that WE GOT NO FREAKING VEHICLES this year! After introducing a promising new mechanic, WizKids just rolled right on into Team Bases. Will we ever get Marvel vehicles? Who knows, but I want a damn S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, dammit! And the Winter Soldier movie set coming in late March would be perfect. Everyone keeps asking for a Colossal Helicarrier, which makes sense, but if they can fit an entire castle on a single base, I don’t see why we can’t get some sort of single base Chase Helicarrier or something to tie in with the movie. End of rant.

BEST NEW BUILD ENABLER:

This static photo is actually more screen time than Duhg got in the actual film.

Two-toned pants are all the rage on Duhg’s world.

Duhg (Thor: The Dark World)

Absorbing Man LE (Invincible Iron Man)

Shuma-Gorath (Convention LE)

Shuma and Absorbing Man have affected the Meta way more, but y’know what? Duhg teams are just more fun to build. They just are. When you’re bored at work, just pick a Build Total, pull out your smart phone and start building a Duhg team. You’ll look up and it’ll be at least ten minutes later. It’s like time traveling, I swear.

BEST MAIN ATTACKER PIECE (for the 300 Point Meta):

The difference is... I make this look gooooood.

The difference is… I make this look gooooood.

Silver Centurion (IIM Prime)

War Machine (IIM Prime)

Fantomex (WXM)

Silver Centurion is among the best main attack pieces WizKids has ever made, especially considering that you have your choice of augmenting him with the Power Plant or The Book of the Skull. He’s basically immune to Pulse Wave, Pen/Psy and Poison–basically everything you would realistically use to take him down. He brings his own secondary attacker. His Keywords are awesome. And you have 139 points left over for support figs. Or 89 Points after paying for Booklip.

War Machine Prime is only worse in that he costs more points. But he has the possibility of doing insane amounts of damage every three turns or so (depending on how many times he’s attacked and such). Fantomex is just rude. Coldly efficient, especially when teamed with some Barrier pieces.

BEST SUPPORT PIECE:

70's fashion... for the win!

70’s fashion… for the win!

Brother Voodoo (ASM Prime)

E Scarlet Witch (AvX)

Cerise (WXM Prime)

Whew. This was the closest call of the night, but Brother Voodoo is simply the best. Free Mind Control & Smoke Cloud PLUS Prob that rotates into Perplex… and oh, you say you think you can hit an 18 Defense with Super Senses while maneuvering around Smoke Cloud and Prob? Incidentally, this was a great year for support figs. I didn’t even mention Raven or Omen, two of my favorites from Teen Titans, or that little turd Bat-Mite. And that AvX Scarlet Witch is gonna have to pull some Brother Voodoo type intimidation tactics to avoid Watch List 2: Electric Boogaloo.

 

Well, that about covers it. Or maybe not, but we’ve already cruised right past the 2500 word barrier, which usually means I’ve outstayed my welcome. But let me know what you think in the Comments section. Did I get it right? Were there any categories I should have considered but didn’t? Post your picks below!!

Meet the New Boss; Same as the Old Boss!! (A Second Opinion on the Invincible Iron Man set and a Quick Discussion About the Meta.)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Meet NinwaShui, our newest contributor! He’s a veteran of many Heroclix tournaments and has played the game for quite a while. His last tournament victory–Month 6 of Fear Itself–came at my expense and earned him a Colossal Serpent! Ninwa is here today to provide another perspective on a couple of my most recent posts.)

A SECOND OPINION!!

That's High Praise

About the set:

I liked this set a lot in terms of theme, but compared to WXM it had a slightly lower power level. There are a larger percentage of figures in this set that I feel I would never field on a team. The power level in the playable figures is definitely comparable. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, as I think WXM is the most powerful set we’ve ever seen.

The chases are cool and they are all playable, but they aren’t the super beautiful one man armies that the last set featured. For a causal player the WXM chases are better, but the chases in this set are much more likely to show up on tournament teams in the current meta.

The current meta:

In my listings below I judge the current meta based on what I’ve seen from recent tournie reports. At the moment, those are mostly from the ROC. Essentially right now you seem to have 5 choices:

-A 300 point team base (Hellfire, X-men blue).

-A 200 point team base (New mutants) and 100 points of something else.

-A 200 point Shuma Gorath and 100 points of something else.

-68 point Catwoman, a 14 point bat belt, and 218 points of something else.

-A 250 point team with at least 3 characters (or two and a bystander), splitlip, and a full book of the skull. This is the most common team you see. I commonly refer to this team and meta environment as “Hammers raining from the sky.”

My 5 figures that almost made the top ten:

5. IIM031 Crimson Cowl – This is a good support figure for MOE teams. Never play her without the Hammer industries ATA. She might have made the top 10 if IIM002 Rescue wasn’t in the same point range in the same set.

4. IIM051 Iron Pharaoh (1500 BC) – He is probably the best figure to use the SUMMON ANCESTRAL SPIRIT: IRON MAN trait to summon. But he lacks the trait himself which means you don’t want to start with him in play. Otherwise, incredible range and his lack of move and attack is easily fixed in a hammers raining from the sky environment.

3. IIM028 Death’s Head – I’ve seen this guy in action and he is deadly on every click. Park him behind the rest of your team and shoot straight through them with his improved targeting. He’s best played with small cheap supporting figures because of his SIDE JOB power mid dial. His average attack value and lack of a move and attack ability are easily fixed in a hammers raining from the sky environment.

2. IIM020 Detroit Steel – This guy made top 16 at a an ROC out of nowhere. I listened to a podcast where they thought it was a joke in the tournament report. Then I checked his dial. His TARGETING SOLUTION allows you to shoot a stealthy guy in hindering OR the guy hiding behind the stealthy guy in hindering. That second option is usually better. Precision strike means that super senses and mastermind are just as useless as stealth. The Hammer ATA is enough to make this guy a pretty darn good figure.

1. IIM030 Mandarin – This guy and his rings would be one of the best support figures in all of modern except that you can’t use other resources with him. He’s not powerful enough to warrant not running your own book of the skull. However in a tournament that doesn’t allow resources, but does allow special objects, this guy rocks. In particular there is one ring to rule them all. The ring binding all the others together in darkness is, appropriately enough, the Black Light ring. There are 3 reasons it’s awesome. “This character can use Smoke Cloud as a free action.” Normal smoke cloud sucks. Smoke cloud as a free action is awesome. “Opposing characters that begin their turn in a square with one of these terrain markers placed by this ability modify their speed and range values by -2.” These are additional bonuses to what smoke cloud already does when used on opposing characters. Go read the new 2013 version of that power again on your PAC card. And if you make opposing characters shoot through hindering, that is an additional -1 to their attack beyond the smoke cloud’s inherent -1 to attack. Also, remember that placing smoke cloud under characters without a way to avoid hindering movement penalties cuts their movement in half. Awesome. And here’s the best part: “This character and adjacent friendly characters can use Stealth if they occupy a square with a terrain marker placed by this ability.” That means if you use smoke cloud on your own team it gives stealth to Mandarin and anyone adjacent to him! Awesome.

In addition to being a competent ranged attacker Mandarin also starts with another ring besides black light. Mento Intensifer (mind control as a free action) is probably the best secondary ring.

The top ten most powerful figures from the Invincible Iron Man Set:

10. IIM002 Rescue – Probably the best support figure in modern not named Scarlet Witch or Tony Stark. The only thing keeping her from being higher on this list is that 65 is a lot in a 300 point army for someone who does zero damage.

9. IIM049 Iron Monger -Do you remember that time he sued the Scarlet Witch because she used the Mystics TA without his permission? Good times. With his ability to nullify any copy-able TA from the opposing team you may disrupt their whole game plan. His attack value looks sub par  until you take into account his -2 perplex to defense. Anyone he can target with perplex he should be able to hit.

8. IIM015 Tony Stark – There has to be a way to break this piece and it’s Mole Man-like ability to make your armor pieces awesome. Maybe “Send in the Drones” Ultron is the key? Also, you should consider that because of his stop click and automatic regeneration for 1 at the start of your turn a lot of pieces in this game can’t knock him out one-on-one. You need to either outwit him or attack twice in one turn. 255 point AVM Hulk can’t knock out this figure by himself. Think about that.

7. IIM048 Count Nefaria – I agree with Hypefox that this fig is great for all the reasons he listed. He’s not higher on my list because I believe IIM029B War Machine is better and he’s only 1 point more.

6. IIM029A War Machine – A great attacker at a bargain price. The trait he has is wonderful and Stark Industry theme units are really hot right now. He has Booklip written all over him.

5. IIM056 Iron Soldier (1910s) – I think this is the best character to start with for the SUMMON ANCESTRAL SPIRIT: IRON MAN trait. Full dial stealth plus the ability to move through hindering terrain–that’s been awesome since Hypertime Batman and it’s still awesome now. Rock solid attack values. +1 att and +1 damage versus armor, past and soldier keyword figs. Also a smoke cloud power you actually want to use. His lack of move and attack is easily rectified in a hammers raining from the sky tournament.

4. IIM029B War Machine – His ALPHA STRIKE power will let you hit the other side of the board in one turn, possibly ambushing the other team before they are ready for you. His RETALIATORY STRIKE is an interesting way to help him not get out-actioned by a more balanced team.

3. IIM041B Hyperion – If you just saw his starting click you might think this was a dial for Galactus. This is the Superman dial that we’ve been waiting for and that we know WizKids will never give us, because if they did there would be no reason to make another ever again. He is a one man army with enough room to still run a resource. The only thing keeping him from being higher on the list is the lack of a broken white power or a trait that needs to be sent immediately to the watch list without passing Go or collecting $200.

2. IIM103 Absorbing Man – Here’s that broken white power I mentioned was missing from Hyperion. I don’t know about the rest of you, but with the way I roll in tournaments getting a 7 or better on my dice is sometimes a long shot. There’s a 58% (roughly) chance of that. Well, there’s only a 16%(roughly) chance after hitting this guy to actually damage him (I know his defense is low, but you still have to make that roll first obviously, so when you look at it altogether, he has a very small chance of taking damage for every attack directed at him). He’s got 5 clicks so you will likely need to hit him twice to KO him and all the while he’s hitting your team for 5 damage a shot. If you build a team a around him (TK, taxi, outwit, etc…) he’s deadly. Nul’s hammer makes him even more unfair.

1. IIM001B Silver Centurion – With the Absorbing Man I said he was deadly when a team a was built around him. Silver Centurion doesn’t even need that much to win. His Torpedo trait will hopefully be watch listed soon and even if it’s removed completely he would still be very playable. His only real weakness is a lack of indomitable and that’s easily rectified.

The 5 worst figures in the Invincible Iron Man set:

5. IIM047E Titanium Man – 150 points for 5 clicks? Is he nearly indestructible like the absorbing man? No. 10 attack. 17 defense. Down to 3 damage after two clicks. His 250 version seems like an average figure. The 150 point version feels like they put the 150 point line in the wrong place.

4. IIM024 Centurius – His EVOLUTIONIZER power isn’t that great in a hammers raining from the sky environment and this guy literally has nothing else to offer. Play Rescue for 7 points less.

3. IIM021 Sasha Hammer – Sasha gives you a 1 in 3 chance to resurrect a 150 point character. Without that trait she’d be an average 50 point character. Unfortunately she costs 90. Hell, if you played a better 90 point character to begin with, your 150 point character might not have gotten KOed in the first place.

2. IIM036 Ghost – What is this guy’s purpose? Not really support. Mobile blocking terrain? He can push to click 2 and do some damage up close, but at that point you might as well play 40 point IIM207 Puck.

1. IIM016 Pepper Potts –  A 33 point character with 2 activation clicks. Sure, if your opponent knocks her out while she’s adjacent to Tony Stark she can turn into a low point Rescue, but why would you opponent ever try knocking her out first?