The Ghost of Christmas Past Presents… My Three Favorite Sets for Heroclix Sealed Play and Why I Love Them!! (Or, The Fifth Night of Clix-Mas!!)

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[EDITOR’S NOTEWelcome to Clix-Mas 2018, wherein we here at Critical Missives rather foolishly try to provide you with twelve different articles in twelve days, all brought to you by either the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, or the Ghost of Christmas Future! If you need to catch up with our intro to all of this, the first Night of Clix-Mas 2018 can be found in our first post of the season, and Night 2 speculated on the next Star Trek set. And Night 3 looked at some of HypeFox’s favorite Golden Age pieces! Night 4 dropped yesterday and examined the lack of Fantastic Four in Clix for the last 6 years!]

Welcome to Night 5 of The Twelve Nights of Christmas!

Tonight I’m gonna talk about my favorite Sealed sets.

Sealed balance is mixed bag for Wizkids. It’s one of my favorite ways to play, but not every set is as much fun to play Sealed as some others are. The following sets I think are some of the best Wizkids has ever made, albeit for various reasons.

 

Deadpool 2014

3. DEADPOOL (2014)

Reason: Great Roster of Characters; Creativity of Mechanics; Sealed Release Prizes

2016’s Deadpool and X-Force almost took this spot, but I give the edge to the original because the Deadpools worked better on their own if you only happened to pull one (and the best ones weren’t all at the Chase level).

Admittedly, you probably liked this set better if you were a Deadpool fan (I know some comic readers can’t stand the character, but I’ve been a fan since the Joe Kelly solo series days), but still, this set had everything!

The Word Balloon mechanic is still one of my favorite pieces of game design to this day! Outside of “Hammer Time,” which you only got if you lucked into the Super Rare Thor Deadpool, all of the Word Balloons were extremely situational, so pulling a Deadpool didn’t automatically mean you were going to steamroll someone. Still, they were occasionally useful, and even if you only pulled a couple ‘Pools from the Common slot (like Headpool and Dogpool), you could interchange their Word Balloons for maximum effectiveness.

But beyond that, this was a set with great, synergistic sub-themes (Sinister Syndicate, Thunderbolts, Z-Virus, Heroes For Hire) that yielded some high-demand figures. The Super Rare level was filled with hits, but even in the Rare slot you could pull a piece like Black Talon and–if you pulled the right supporting cast–steamroll the competition.

Chases were better when played together (although zombie Electro was pretty deadly on his own or paired with other Sinister Syndicate pieces), so again, if you were lucky enough to pull one, it didn’t mean you would auto-win.

The Uncommon, Rare and Super Rare Primes were all a ton of fun (Evil Deadpool!!), and this is also the set that gave us DP053A Speed Demon, probably the most unique speedster dial Wizkids has ever given us!

And you wanted to do well at the Sealed Release events, because Wizkids gave us four (FOUR!!) fantastic LE pieces that only came in the Deadpool OP kits.

–DP101 Ultimate Deadpool, who I think to this day has the most Named Keywords and who also came with an exclusive Word Balloon.

–Bill, Agent of A.I.M., a 30 point Taxi with an Attack Special (MY HIGH-ENERGY FINDER THING: Give Bill, Agent of A.I.M. a power action and choose the highest-point opposing character. Until your next turn, that character can be targeted with a ranged combat attack by one friendly character adjacent to Bill, Agent of A.I.M. and line of fire for that attack isn’t blocked.) that was so good he ended up as a Meta piece for the next year and a half.

Bill, like his counterpart Bob, Agent of Hydra, is one of Deadpool’s most popular supporting cast members and this was the only way to get him as he didn’t appear in the main set.

–Wolverine, Agent of Hydra, who was the “boss” character that both The Hand and Hydra teams were looking for at the time. I wouldn’t say he ended up being Meta, but he made a bunch of ninja teams viable at house games over the next year.

–Cosmic X-23. This was the first solo version of X-23 the game had seen in 4 years. She was borderline Meta, but never really got there. Still, she had two great dials and was also in high demand from players who collect the various Captain Universe pieces.

To this day, I don’t think we’ve seen better release day LE’s. In fact, I think shortly after this set Wizkids switched to including just one release OP LE figure for new standard sets.

 

Heroclix WOL

2. War of Light (2014)

Reason: Titanic, High-Point Battles; $$$$!!

Man, 2014 was the year to be playing Sealed! War of Light was the 2014 Summer OP Limited Edition set, and it was crazy popular.

First of all, there are a LOT of Lantern fans out there, and the Clix community had been waiting for powerful, Modern interpretations of these characters (or, in some cases, their debut). Suddenly EVERY color on the spectrum had enough pieces to field viable teams for house games; some colors (Green, Yellow) even found themselves in the Meta.

Because you could only get these boosters by playing at your local game store (or by sniping a brick on eBay, where they were going for $210-$249 a BRICK during their heyday!), almost every SR was worth more than $25, with some going for $50-$80 the first month the set was released.

And the Chases… each color got a Chase Entity (except for Black, whose Entity piece was SR) that went for $100 plus (or $200 in the case of Parallax) because of both their scarcity and their power level in the Meta (from June 2014–January 2015, EVERY Meta team had at least one Entity on it).

All of which turned these Sealed OP events into lottery draws. So these events were PACKED, and competitors were hyped EVEN BEFORE FOLKS STARTED PLAYING!

Now, I talked a bit about balance with Deadpool (and I’ll talk a LOT more about balance with the #1 set), but WOL was NOT the most balanced set Wizkids has ever designed. Far from it, actually.

But that imbalance just fed into the whole lottery craze! A lot of folks sold their most expensive pulls on eBay after the event, so for some, the event itself was the only time they’d ever get to play with these figs.

And Battle Royales… wow! I’ve never seen so many folks queue up for Battle Royales than the fall of 2014 when the bigger venues in town would run a ROC or other big event! If WOL was on the menu, people would be there!

I can remember being ganged up on in one WOL BR by two different guys who knew each other and happened to be in the same pod as me. Unfortunately for them, I pulled the Weaponer of Qward, so it didn’t go so well for them (as opposed to when the same thing happened to me during an Uncanny X-Men BR, and I got my @$$ handed to me!).

But that was the boom or bust nature of the set. In month one at my LGS, I pulled Ophidian with Red Lantern Superboy Prime. In Round 2 I played Ninwashui, and the game lasted about 15 minutes, since his best pull was Brother Warth (to be fair, I think he actually got Supes down to, like, click 3 or 4).

But I will always remember the furor this set inspired, and that’s why it’s number two on this list!

 

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1. BATMAN, THE ANIMATED SERIES (2018)

Reason: Insanely Well-Balanced!! Plus Some Nice Nostalgia… 

And now for my favorite Sealed Set! Yup! It just came out in July!

This set is arguably the most well-balanced Sealed set Wizkids has ever designed. I’ve written before about how I lucked into possibly the BEST Sealed configuration a person can pull from this set at a WKO, and I still lost on a roll-off in the playoffs against stiff comepetition!

I’ll say it again–even the BEST PIECES IN THE SET were no guarantee of victory!

The point distribution between characters was very narrow for the most part, and outside of a few characters <cough–Hawkman & Hawkgirl–cough>, no piece had distinct offensive or mobility advantages over the others (okay, maybe Rare Batman with his Batarang, which was insanely good in Sealed!).

I’ve played this set Sealed probably four or five times now, and I’ve enjoyed every game!

That’s why it’s my favorite Sealed Set… so far!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I would give an Honorable Mention to Avengers: Infinity, also from this year, solely because it’s the first time we saw Sealed Colossal vs. Colossal play! There were some other slight issues that caused the set to slip down my personal rankings a bit, but for the Colossal novelty alone, I thought it also deserved a mention here. More of this please, Wizkids!!]

What are yours? Sound off in the Comments below, then join us right here tomorrow night for more Clix-Mas!!

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My WKO Diary and the Top Ten Sealed Pieces in Batman: The Animated Series—Part TWO!!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Previously, on Critical Missives, HypeFox journeyed to his local WKO to try his hand at some Sealed Meta. He made Top 8, and was just about to start his Top 8 playoff run… ]

TOP EIGHT:

versus…

Roberto Ty (@tydesign)

Superman Animated.jpg

His Team:

BTAS001A Batman — 50 Points

BTAS003 Joker — 30 Points

BTAS006 Alfred — 20 Points

BTAS022 Mr. Freeze — 100 Points 

BTAS036 Superman — 100 Points

Total = 300 Points

What Goes Down: Here we go! This was my first WKO playoff game. I know Roberto very well–he plays at my LGS, so we’ve faced off many a time.

I’m usually much more aggressive than Roberto; his turns are much more planned out than mine (to his credit). Still, looking at his lineup, I’m feeling pretty confident.

We dance for the first few turns as we line up potential Alpha Strikes. Eventually he has no choice but to go for it with Supes’s once-a-game Hypersonic Speed.

He misses. Now I’ve got him!

Except I miss. Reroll with my Robin–miss again. Yuck.

He quickly moves his Batman and Mr. Freeze up. After I take out his Alfred, his Mr. Freeze starts to go off. Eventually, Wonder Woman and my Joker fall. My Duo Flurries through his Batman, and his Supes is a bit injured.

I take out his Joker finally, and he responds by chopping through my Hawkman dial. This works to my advantage though, as I get to start on Click 1 of Hawkgirl’s dial, which give me Outwit and Hypersonic Speed.

The Outwit allows me to take away Freeze’s dampeners, and Robin lands a couple hits.

Roberto moves Freeze back. On my turn, I clear Hawkman & Hawkgirl. It’s neck and neck. Still, Freeze is now within Hypersonic range, and on my next turn I should be able to take him out, although then Superman will get a free shot on Hawkgirl (he’ll need an 8 though to do three).

I’m running through these Scenarios as Roberto contemplates his next move. And then:

“TIME! LAST ACTION!”

Doh!

Roberto’s not in a position to make an attack at that point, so it’s going to come down to points.

I’ve KO’d his Joker, Batman and Alfred for 100 Points.

Roberto has KO’d my Chase Wonder Woman and Joker for… wow. 100 Points!

That’s right! We’re going to a roll-off!

We roll at the same time, and I watch carefully as my first die comes to a stop on a 6. Yes! The second bounces for a bit before it lands on a 1. No!

Still, 7 is respectable. I look over at Roberto’s dice:

CRITICAL HIT!

Yup. He rolled two 6’s!!

I’ve lost, and Roberto is moving on.

Still, it was a hard fought battle on both sides, and Roberto deserved to move on in this tournament.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Of course, I almost screwed that up when I absent-mindedly packed up my stuff and accidentally grabbed his Superman!! Luckily, he had another one with him. ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK YOUR CLEANUPS, FOLKS!]

RESULT: LOSS (4-1), OUT OF TOURNAMENT

Which brings me to what I learned, and my…

TOP TEN SEALED PIECES IN BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES!!

 

Green Lantern SF.gif

10. BTAS069 Green Lantern — 70 Points — Chase: He’s a reasonably priced Taxi that morphs into your Primary Attacker just one click in.

That’s when his Flying combines with Running Shot, Pulse Wave and 3 Damage top dial–with Perplex to boot!

While his Trouble Alert Trait might entice you to keep him in your Sideline, he’s actually one of the most effective mobile attackers in the set.

He’s crunchiness against anyone sporting a yellow power and his inability to do anything against Stealth keep him from going higher on this list.

 

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9. BTAS003 Joker — 30 Points — Common: Four PACKED clicks for just 30 Points, including TOP DIAL PROB!! He also offers a Special Attack Power (DOES THIS SMELL FUNNY TO YOU, BATS?: Smoke Cloud. FREE: Make a close attack targeting an opposing character occupying a square with his Smoke Cloud marker regardless of adjacency. Instead of normal damage, give a hit character an action token.) that essentially combines Smoke Cloud and Incapacitate.

This plays like a 50 Point dial that they inexplicably mislabeled. If you pull him, I strongly suggest you play him.

 

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8. BTAS073 Hawkgirl — 50 Points — Chase: Charge and Exploit and SIX FREAKING Clicks for 50 Points is great (yeah, she has to attack first each turn or get a major penalty, but whatever). But her ability to generate up to TWO Autonomous Bird tokens with Flurry is why she’s on this list.

If you can move up someone with Empower after generating the tokens… oh boy! She can cause no end of issues for you opponents.

 

Zatanna JLU

7. BTAS061 Zatanna — 75 Points — Super Rare: Solid dial with a Perp & Prob Special plus the ability to pop out free Bats with Enhancement. See above for why useful tokens are good (okay, these Bats aren’t quite as good, but Zatanna has a better dial for Sealed than Hawkgirl).

 

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6. BTAS057 Man-Bat — 75 Points — Super Rare: Hypersonic AND Stealth, plus some Special Super Senses shenanigans. He’s a solid attacker that can unleash some real havoc if played on the right map.

 

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5. BTAS068 The Flash — 60 Points — Chase: Yep. Another freaking Chase. But most of them are soooo good for their points! And that’s before you look at the Meta implications of their TroubleAlert Traits.

Still, in a Sealed environment, 3 Damage top dial is good. Hypersonic Speed is great. Probability Control is priceless.

Barry Allen here gives you all three for just 60 Points.

 

Supes

4. BTAS036 Superman — 100 Points — Rare:  Sometimes, you just want to open a brick to build your team around. Well, here you go. 4 Damage top dial plus two really good Specials, especially in Sealed.

The first (I’LL BE THERE IF YOU NEED ME: Charge. Once per game, Superman can use Hypersonic Speed.) gives you a great chance at landing an Alpha Strike. The second (TAKING THE HITS MY TEAMMATES CAN’T: Leadership. Adjacent friendly characters can use Mastermind, but only to choose Superman.) can really throw a monkey wrench into your opponent’s attack plans.

 

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3. BTAS067 Wonder Woman — 70 Points — Chase: Hypersonic Speed top dial with 3 Damage, a great Taxi ability (GIVING THE SUPER FRIENDS A RIDE IN THE INVISIBLE JET… EVEN AQUAMAN: Hypersonic Speed, [Wing Symbol], Passengers: 2. Wonder Woman may carry one same size character with [Dolphin Symbol] in addition to any other carried characters.) and an even BETTER Attack ability (LASSO OF TRUTH TO CAPTURE THEM ALL AT ONCE:: FREE: Choose an opposing character within 5 squares and line of fire that has a character adjacent to it. Roll a d6 for that character and each character adjacent to it. [4-6]: give the character you rolled for an action token.).

Add in some Shape Change to eat up some opposing attacks and you have one of the best Sealed pieces in the set.

 

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2. BTAS040 Batman — 125 — Rare: Wow! This piece will absolutely wreck opposing Primary Attackers. He’s got Outwit, TA-granted Stealth, Sidestep, Quake with a 12 (!) Attack, 18 Defense with Combat Reflexes (and remember, he’s got Stealth, so most attacks against him are going to be from Close Combat) and Indomitable, Toughness and the ability to ignore opposing Shape Change.

And that’s just his top dial.

And that’s before you add in the Batarang Equipment which gives him a FREE RANGED ATTACK EVERY TURN THAT IGNORES ALL KINDS OF STUFF ON TARGETING!!

 

Hawkman and Hawkgirl

1. BTAS060 Hawkman & Hawkgirl — 125 — Super Rare: I went on and on about this piece last time in Part One of this article. But it’s all true.

There is no more mobile attacker in the whole set. This piece also has the best survivability AND the most consistent offense of any piece in the set.

If you open this piece in a Sealed, you must build your team around it.

It’s that good.

 

Okay! Thanks for staying with us. Our next piece should be Ninwashui’s Top Ten Set Review for Batman: The Animated Series.

So we’ll see you then!!

Local Tournament Report – 9/03/14 @ Gamers Gauntlet (War of the Light Month 4)

Local Tournament Report

It’s been a little while I wrote a solo article. I’ve been having a mini vacation while at the same time submitting superior Lantern builds and beating Hypefox at his own article. Vote for me in his poll. It’ll be awesome.

In the meantime I attended War of the Light month 3 at Comics N’ More. I sat next to HypeFox as he pulled the only entity… again. Between that and my round one battle (which was the slowest game of HeroClix I ever played – Lost 0 points to 40) I just didn’t have the heart to write the month 3 battle report. The one good part of that was that I got experience playing Sodam Yat. On my team, he wasn’t KOed the whole tournament. Unfortunately, opponents kept knocking him to his 9 attack value click and ignoring him. A trick I would remember.

astros-butt-slide

This is what War of the Light Month 3 looked like for me.

Gamers Gauntlet in Clinton Township is not my usual venue, but I thought it would be nice to try for a change. Turns out there are some great guys there. I’m still loyal to my regular venue, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Gamer’s Gauntlet again. Special thanks to Dan for letting me borrow his White Battery and constructs when I came with none of my own. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Seriously? You forgot your Power Battery again? My God, man!]

LOCAL TOURNAMENT REPORT!!

The Format: Each participant is given 1 boosters of the limited edition War of Light DC Heroclix wave 2 set and another of a recent set. From the figures contained within the two boosters, competitors must make the best 400 Point army they can and compete in 3 Rounds of competitive play. You can also include standard objects and any war of the light constructs and resources you’ve acquired so far.

What I Opened:

SLOSH002 Saturn Girl

SLOSH007 Shrinking Violet

SLOSH028 Lightray

SLOSH034 Starman

SLOSH046 Superboy

WOL006 Star Sapphire Recruit

WOL014 Rankorr

WOL022 Katma Tui

WOL024 Saarek

WOL036 Bleez

My Jujitsu works on Ion. That's right... I'm a ninja.

My Jujitsu works on Ion. That’s right… I’m a ninja.

What I Played:

SLOSH007 Shrinking Violet

SLOSH034 Starman

SLOSH046 Superboy

WOLR101 Power Battery (White Lantern Corps)

WOLR306 Star Sapphire Ring

WOLR201.05 Crossbow (White)

WOLR201.06 Decoy (White)

WOLR201.07 Catapult (White)

WOLR201.08 Scissors (White)

WOLR201.09 Nurse (White)

That’s right I went to a War of the Light event and played a SLOSH team. The team abilities were just too good to pass up. Shrinking violet could share her 19 defense using by copying Starman’s JSA Team Ability OR she could Outwit through Stealth using the Superman TA. Having a team with 19 base defense across the board in sealed doesn’t happen very often. Starman also has an exceptional defensive abilities. Add in shared Willpower from Superboy, and then everyone gets Shape Change and Mystics from the Battery when I use the Star Sapphires ring (which, as far as War of Light rings go, is severely underrated). This team would be considered “great” in constructed and I was playing sealed. I’d hate to be facing it.

Fun fact: in HeroClix you can outwit Medusa with a Gallon of Conditioner.

Fun fact: You can render Medusa powerless with a Gallon of Conditioner.

Round 1 versus WOL026 Sodam Yat, GOTG039 Medusa, and a WOL002 Red Lantern Recruit. I won map roll and we played on the Black Mercy Map. That meant there was no elevated and no blocking terrain to hide behind. My Range focused team had a huge advantage. I don’t remember all of the details of this match, but I do remember the ending. I had KOed everyone but Sodam Yat and surrounded him with my team. Between my Shape Change and his Decoy and Impervious the game ended up looking like we were playing dice masters. I counted at least 6 turns going by with no one able to land an attack even though everyone was based. We just started rushing through turns and they lasted 20 seconds each. The game still almost went to time. It was ridiculous.

stargirl

She was secretly in the final running to become the new Captain America.

Round 2 versus SLOSH033 Stargirl possessed by ION, WOL030A Guy Gardner (Star Sapphires), WOL038 Dex-Starr, WOL002 Red Lantern Recruit, WOL006 Star Sapphire Recruit. We played on the same Black Mercy map that gave my team a huge advantage in round one. I moved up the board unafraid and my opponent was almost completely unable to hit my defense. I started off by hitting the Red Lantern Recruit from Range not wanting to face his penetrating Pois0n. Next I outwitted the special power on Guy Gardner and the Star Saphire Recruit so I didn’t take Mystics damage. I was then able to pick them off at will. As much as my opponent was missing me I also couldn’t touch his remaining characters. Dex-Starr had two Unoutwittable defensive abilities and Stargirl usually had Unoutwittable Impervious and Energy Shield Deflection.

I still hadn’t taken any damage up to that point and then Dex-Starr Pushed to hit for 2 on Starman. Thankfully that was the exact opening that I needed. Starman got Pulse Wave after being hit. The next turn I moved all my characters away and used Pulse Wave to KO Dex-Starr. I had done 4 damage to Stargirl and I was aiming for the kill on the following turn when the judge called time.

 

In one form or another I ended up fighting this guy all night.

Round 3 versus WOL026 Sodam Yat, WOL016 Soranik Natu, a Green Battery, various constructs, and a green ring. This turned out to be a really good game. No more Black Mercy map. This map had elevated to block my LoF. I started off by moving to the middle of the map and putting the crossbow on Superboy. My opponent used TK to move up Sodam Yat. Sodam then activated Charge, grabbed and Ultra-heavy object, and KOed Shrinking Violet just that fast. My remaining two characters had Running shot so I took two shots at Sodam Yat. Unfortunately the Shield and the ring combined to give him +3 to his ranged defense and I missed. He assigned the Decoy to Soranik and cleared Sodam. I assigned the Nurse to Starman and cleared. He charged and attacked Starman and missed. Starman’s trait added another token to him (awesome). On my turn I hit him for 2 damage with Starman and knocked him to click 3. He cleared. On my turn again Superboy missed again and Starman knocked him to Click 5. On his turn he activated Hypersonic, hit Starman for 3, took a Mystics damage, and ran Soranik away. We all cleared on the next turns. I used the Nurse to Regen Starman for 2. Seeing that I could heal to full, my opponent used Hypersonic and ran back to attack Starman. He missed and this time the second token gave him a pushing damage.

We each continued to damage our respective Lanterns by using powers and soon we each got each other’s Batteries to the end of the dials. I was on click 19 he was on click 20. Suddenly all of the stats on the characters in play went up by +2 or +3. The rest of the game went fairly quickly after that. Sodam Yat took a couple of hits right away and was on his last click. He couldn’t KO Starman without be KOed by mystics damage so he ran. I went after Soranik. She did 6 damage to Superboy, but he only took three due to invincible. Soranik was KOed the next turn. Sodam Yat tried to KO my power battery to even the odds. Unfortunately the power battery takes printed damage minus 2. In this case it was only one damage. It survived. The following turn Superboy KOed Sodam Yat with a running shot.

Conclusion: I won all of my matches, but I actually took second place on points. Thankfully, that was still enough to earn WOL112 Atrocitus.

What I Learned:

  • Anyone with a star rod is awesome. I mean SLOSH034 Starman and SLOSH033 Stargirl. Star-lord doesn’t count. Both had Traited defenses that were just killer in the games I played tonight. Stargirl was helped a lot by being possessed by Ion, but it seemed like she is able to add energy shield deflection almost at will and the was my teams “Kryptonite” tonight. Starman’s jujitsu that adds a token happened at least three times tonight. That’s so disheartening for your opponent, especially when it happens to their 250 point WOL026 Sodam Yat.
  • WOL026 Sodam Yat is good as long as you pay the full point value, but his offense isn’t that great until you get to the Ion clicks. I remember playing him several times in month 3 just wanting opponents to do damage to him so that I could play the Ion clicks and finally be able to KO someone. I turned the tables and gave my opponents that feeling this tournament.
  • People have been saying WOL038 Dex-Starr isn’t worth the points he costs, but after seeing him in action I tend to disagree. His defenses are top notch and his Penetrating Poison starts with an easy push to click 2. Add to that the fact that he can be carried by just about anyone and Dex-Starr seems like a winning piece to me.
  • I didn’t give SLOSH046 Superboy the credit he deserved in my SLOSH top 10. He’s a very competent attacker and his ability to grant Willpower to adjacent figures can make teams like the one I played much better. 18 with invincible to start with is very good. I’d definitely play him again.
  • Apparently the SLOSH set was the most over powered set to come out recently. Doubt me? Ask the ROC Champion or the HeroClix World Champion (You’ll definitely get the same answer from both since they are the same guy).