ROC’ing the Meta 2: Electric Boogaloo!! (Or, a Look at the Top Meta Figures for the 2014-2015 ROC Season!)

ROC

Okay! So it’s been awhile since I wrote anything that wasn’t a Weekly Roundup (or that had the “Electric Boogaloo” subtitle!), and I noticed that we really haven’t addressed the new ROC season format in any real detail yet. Well, that changes today!!

In this article, we’re going to look at which figures are doing well–basically, what you can expect to see at the next few ROC’s. In part 2, we’ll discuss which figures are not working like they use to in the Meta, and which figures might yet have their day in sun!

This should explain everything.

This should explain everything.

 

First, let’s take a look at the format the ROC is using this year. I mean, you can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is, right?

From HCRealms, here is the current format:

1.2.1: The first half of this season the format will be “300 Points, Modern Age, and “No Tactics” “No Entity Possession”.

No figure with a base larger than a double base (peanut). Runs Sep 2014-Mar 2015.

What is “No Tactics?” Again, from the rules:

“Part 4: TACTICS
Tactics are optional elements of HeroClix that you can choose to play in your HeroClix games. Each brings new strategic depth and exciting opportunities to the game, but also additional rules and complexity.
Tactics should be added to your game only when you feel you’ve mastered all other aspects of the HeroClix rules. Even then, you and those you play with might want to add only one Tactic at a time, learning each in turn. Tactics covered in this section include:

• Special Objects
• Resources
• Feats
• Battlefield Conditions
• Event Dials
• Bystanders Tokens
• Themed Teams

That’s right. No Resources, Relics, Colossals or Entities. No Bystander Tokens! No ATA’s, even! Yikes! Annnnd, you have to declare three maps on your Build sheet to choose from if you win Map Roll, so it’s a lot harder to hose teams simply via Map Choice. So what does that leave you? Well, quite a bit, actually, with one mechanic rising above the rest–at least so far. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Looking at the results of the few ROC’s that have been run so far under these rules (you can see the results of the FAT OGRE ROC right here, and the Dial H guys have talked at length about the ROC they ran in their last couple episodes), here is what you can expect to see.

SUPPORTING CAST:

Ranged figures are at such an advantage in this format. Probably because of that, everyone is looking for supporting figures that aid in targeting and pump up Range, Attack and/or Damage. Also, TK and Support are two KEY abilities that almost every team needs to have or needs to deal with. Healing, especially, is hard to come by in today’s Meta without a Power Battery. As such, these are the solutions some high level players have turned to in order to solve for X so far in this early part of the ROC season:

The Dead Set:

Deadpool Supporting Cast

DP018 Blind Al: She’s cheap (just 13 Points) and she enables shenanigans. She’s only got 2 clicks, but that doesn’t matter. Do you need to get a figure to its second click in a hurry? Do you want the cheapest Perplex in the game for your turtle (read: Iron Pharaoh) team? One of her main drawbacks–her keywords–doesn’t matter a lick in this format, since Theme Teams are disallowed.

DP020 Weasel: Now we’re up to 27 Points and 3 clicks of life! Again, his dial is so useful it doesn’t matter. He’s got 2 specials that just make him the best supporting piece for ranged attackers in the game (Well, a case could be made for the next fig on this list, but I’m getting ahead of myself). Weasel’s Tech-Guru to the Underworld Damage Special essentially allows him to give an adjacent friendly attacker +1 to their Range, Attack AND Damage. His top dial Attack Special is slightly less useful, but it will let you reroll a nearby friendly character’s missed range attack roll if you miss by 1 (unless it’s a critical miss). As a nice little bonus, Weasel has Pulse Wave on the last two clicks of his dial. He only has an 8 Attack to go with his 5 Range (3 on the Pulse Wave), but when you remember that Pulse Wave ignores opposing Shape Change, Super Senses, Energy Shield/Deflection and Probability Control (if the Prob’er is in the area of effect), it’s not inconceivable that  Weasel could actually hit someone with it.

Bill Agent of Aim

DP102 Bill, Agent of A.I.M.: 3 clicks of life for 30 Points! Bill does just about everything Blind Al does, only better! His Defense Special (I’M NOT ACTUALLY A QUALIFIED BLIMP PILOT, IT TURNS OUT: Bill, Agent of A.I.M. can use the Carry ability to carry any number of characters. After he carries a character and actions resolve, roll a d6. On a result of 3-6, deal him and the carried characters 1 damage.) will actually let you move most of your figures into place, and it also gets Bill to his two back clicks, which are absurdly useful for the points. He has the Hydra TA, Sidestep, Willpower and Outwit, but it’s his Attack Special that makes him a must play for a lot of folks (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 without line of fire to that opposing character.). Bascially, as long as your Primary Attacker is in range, he can attack your opponent’s best figure regardless of Terrain or Stealth or whatever, which is never not useful.

Again, Bill’s keywords aren’t the greatest (his best is probably Scientist), but that doesn’t matter a lick in this format.

The War Veterans:

War of Light is one of the largest sets they’ve ever made (actually, it’s gotta be the largest, right?), so just on shear numbers, it would have to offer a ton of great pieces for every role in a Build. As far as supporting pieces go, there’s definitely a few that you will run into again and again:

Soranik Natu

–WOL016 Soranik Natu: This is neither here nor there, but man, as I was looking for Soranik Natu images to put at the top of this entry, I noticed that half of what I found were Cosplay photos. I guess Soranik and her rather boobilicious uniform hit the Cosplay target right in the Bullseye. She’s alien, yet she basically looks like a sunburnt human; her costume wouldn’t be too hard to throw together, and dressing up as Ms. Natu offers the chance to display a lot o’ cleavage. There ya go–I think we just worked out a Cosplay algorithm that solves for the basic elements that need to be satisfied when choosing a character to Cosplay! Well done, us!

Anyway, Soranik Natu is a 70-Point Lantern from Wave 2 offers decent stats for her cost; what makes her Meta-worthy is the back half of her Trait (TANGLED LIVES: Opposing characters named Sinestro modify their combat values by -1 if not already modified by this effect. When Soranik Natu is adjacent to a character named Kyle Rayner, they both modify their attack values by +1 if not already modified by this effect.) and her top dial Attack Special (BATTLEFIELD MEDIC: Soranik Natu can use Telekinesis and Support. When she uses Telekinesis and places a friendly character next to her, she can use Support as a free action, but only to heal that character.). Please believe me when I say that there are very few good characters with Support in this format. Many teams in the normal Meta rely on the Power Battery for Support, or use Agrir’s Hammer for some Steal Energy/Quake shenanigans. Well, you can’t use either of those in the ROC right now. But Soranik here can fit right in with what a lot of Meta teams are already doing, and a 10 Attack Support as a FREE ACTION is a Godsend. Her TK also opens up a lot of doors in terms of your plan of attack.

As far as her Trait goes, we’ll see why that matters (if only a little) a little further on in this article.

Brother Hymn

–WOL029 Brother Hymn: He’s a bit pricey at 85 Points, but he will have just about every supporting power in the game (except maybe Empower, which doesn’t do much for you in the current environment anyway) somewhere on his dial. Top dial, he can use Perplex (only to increase values, but still), Enhancement (that also gives +1 to Range, not unlike Weasel), Barrier and Probability Control. Down dial he also morphs into a warrior monk with Running Shot and 3 damage along with Support (that he can occasionally use as–you guessed it–a Free Action!). He also flies, which means he’s a decent taxi, too.

Sister Sercy

–WOL033 Sister Sercy: She costs less than Brother Hymn (66 Points to his 85), but you get less, too. 1 less click of life, 2 less range, and less damage output throughout her whole dial. What you do get, however, is a phenomenal top click. Flight with 9 Movement and the Blue Lantern Perplex (can only Perplex values UP), 10 Attack with TK (so useful in this format), 17 Defense with Willpower and Prob with 2 Damage. She does pick up the same Support Special at the end of her dial that Brother Hymn has, but with an essentially naked 17 Defense and only 5 clicks, it is very possible someone can one shot her. Still, she is someone that you may see at a ROC.

The Old School:

Void

–SOG035 Void: At 70 Points with Flight and Phasing on all five of her clicks, along with the ability to Carry up to four friendly characters (with no keyword requirement, which, again, works brilliantly in a no Themed Teams environment), she’s one of the best Taxis in the game. She also gives you a (all together now!) Free Action Support after she resolves a move action. If her attack wasn’t stuck at 8 for her whole dial, she’d be nearly broken. She also possesses a wonderful Damage Special (PRECOGNITION: Void can use Outwit, Probability Control, and Super Senses; when an action resolves after she uses any of these powers, roll a d6 that cannot be rerolled and on a result of ‘one’ deal Void 1 unavoidable damage.) that might eat away at her over time, but chances are the game will already be decided before that damage really hurts her enough to matter.

SECONDARY ATTACKERS:

Modern Age currently has a good number of figures (thanks primarily to War of Light) that can act as very efficient Secondary Attackers who cost a pittance compared to what you used to have to pay. Most are Primes, but not all. If you’re going to a ROC soon, expect to see one of these pieces backing up the Primary Attacker:

The Lanterns:

Abin Sur

–WOL046B Abin Sur (Prime): Okay! Now we get to that mechanic I was talking about earlier–the one that’s been rising above the rest. It’s the Construct mechanic (CONSTRUCT: When building your force, you may attach a construct to this character by paying its point cost. Give this character a power action and replace the construct with any other construct, up to 2 points higher than the original construct. If this character has no action tokens and the new construct is a lower point value than the original construct, this is a free action instead.)! And Abin Sur here has it! He also has Running Shot, Energy Explosion, an 8 Range, 3 native Damage and some down dial Support (so useful!) and Perplex. Now, all that might seem pedestrian enough, but there are two MAJOR things to think about with Abin Sur here.

First, consider the WIDE range of abilities Abin’s Construct ability grants him (RCE, ES/D, Free Action Barrier, Free Action Smoke Cloud, Regen, CCE, Exploit Weakness, Improved Targeting: Ignores Hindering Terrain, etc., etc. … ). He can evolve with the game for the low, low price of 10 extra points when building your force (that’s the cost of the most expensive Construct, and he can switch them out at will by using a Power Action or a Free Action depending on which Construct you’re attaching.

Second, you’ll have that extra 10 Points (and more) to spend since Abin Sur ONLY COSTS 50 FREAKING POINTS!! Whaaa… ?!?!? Yep. He’s INSANELY good for his points. The other Construct pieces from War of Light are really good for their points, but 50 Points for everything Abin Sur brings you is just stupid.

Tomar Tu

–WOL013B Tomar Tu (Prime): 99 Points of awesome. He has the Construct ability, a mid-dial mini-Highfather-esque shenanigans-baiting Movement Special (FINAL STAND AGAINST HAL JORDAN: Give Tomar Tu a power action and choose an opposing character within 6 squares and line of fire. Until your next turn, that character can’t target any friendly character with an attack.), an absurd 9 Range, 18 Defense with Super Senses and Running Shot/Pulse Wave top dial. He can also use Willpower and has a conditional Outwit! You will be seeing this piece QUITE a lot in future ROC’s.

The Lil’ Guys:

Despotellis

–WOL099 Despotellis: Despotellis is sometimes referred to as a supporting piece, but make no mistake–his only purpose is dealing damage. Now, a 30-Point Hockey Puck with a 20 Defense is hard to deal with in the normal Meta; take away Resources and Relics, and his 20-Defense becomes ridiculously difficult to deal with. His Penetrating Poison is a great way to bust through particularly tough to deal with defensive abilities like Super Senses, Shape Change, Impervious, and so on. Additionally, some of the Construct-sporting Lanterns can get up to a 20+ Defense from Range with the Shield, so having a way to knock them through their clicks without having to roll attack dice is key.

Headpool

–DP002 Headpool: Okay, he’s more of a tertiary attacker/tie-up piece, but he makes this list because you’re going to see him a lot. While he doesn’t have the Construct ability, he does have the Merc With a Mouth ability, which lets him attach Word Balloons (not as good as Constructs, but useful in and of themselves). He’s easy to get into the fray, and his Exploit Weakness should allow him to get through most defenses. Plus, his Defense Special (IMMORTAL ZOMBIE HEAD THAT EVERYONE WANTS: Headpool ignores other characters’ Poison and all but 1 damage that would be dealt to him. This power can’t be countered or ignored.) will keep him around far longer than his 3 clicks of life might suggest he would stay. The fact that he has the ability to dish out Virus tokens as well is something that might also be exploited, but we’ll touch on that a little more next time in Part 2…

PRIMARY PIECES:

These are the main pieces to watch out for. Not every army will feature one of these, but most will. They’re also not all Primary Attackers–there’s a couple Meta Builds that revolve around pieces that change the game without attacking. Either way, whatever Build you come up with, you are gonna need a way to deal with these guys (and gal) if and when you encounter them.

Yup. More Lanterns:

Kyle Raynor ION 2

–WOL107 Kyle Raynor (Green Lantern): They finally made a good Kyle Raynor?! Yup. His 180 Point cost is worth it, especially since Kyle can use the Construct ability. He can deal a ton of damage his first two clicks, but then a Stop Click (ION: When this click is revealed due to an opponent’s attack, stop turning the dial. Kyle Rayner can use Impervious and the Quintessence team ability. This power can’t be ignored.) on Click 3 kicks things into overdrive. It bumps Kyle up to a 19 native Defense along with 5 Damage and Outwit. But it’s his Movement Special that’s really bonkers (I CAN BE EVERYWHERE I NEED TO BE: Kyle Rayner can use the Duo Attack Ability. When he does, before making each attack, you may place him in a legal square up to half his speed value away.). Read that ability again. It’s stupid, it’s so good. And you still have 110-ish Points (depending on what Construct you buy Kyle) left for supporting pieces. He is fully capable of doing 9 Damage or more while using that crazy Duo Attack of his, and there’s next to nothing that your opponent can do to tie him down!

John Stewart

–WOL105 John Stewart: A more traditional from-range beatstick who becomes more interesting in this format since he has the Construct ability. His top dial includes Running Shot, Precision Strike, RCE and the ability to use RCE as a ranged combat action instead of a power action. He also naturally sees through Hindering Terrain and other characters. For those reasons, he’s better than the 160 Point Hal Jordan that came with the Scenario Pack. He doesn’t have the crazy movement powers that Kyle Raynor does, but he’s damn good in his own right and he still packs a serious punch.

The Kool-Aid Kult Member:

Proxima Midnight

–GOTG050 Proxima Midnight: First of all, how awesome is her sculpt? It’s the exact image above, including the fallen victim at her feet. But I digress. Proxima is 100 points of aggression; her dial has 7 Clicks that start out range-based, then turn to close combat before finishing with some clicks that are somewhere in between. Top dial she has 10 Movement with Running Shot, 11 Attack with Pen/Psy (and Sharpshooter), 18 Defense with Combat Reflexes and 3 native damage. Her Range is dependent on her first Trait (THREE TRACERS OF BLACK LIGHT: Proxima Midnight begins the game with 3 Tracer tokens on this card. Proxima Midnight has a range value equal to the number of Tracer tokens on this card times 3, and has a number of bolts equal to the number of Tracer tokens on this card.), but it’s her second Trait that makes her so useful against foes with strong defensive abilities (THE SPEAR OF PROXIMA MIDNIGHT: When Proxima Midnight hits with a ranged combat attack, remove a Tracer token from this card and place it on a hit character’s card if it doesn’t already have one. At the beginning of your turn, roll a d6 for each of her Tracer tokens on other character’s cards, and on a result of 3-6 deal 1 penetrating damage to the character with that Tracer token on its card. When a character with her Tracer token on its card is KO’d, place the Tracer token on Proxima Midnight’s card.). Yup. Depending on that Spear roll, you could potentially do two separate packets of penetrating damage to a character. For pieces with Stop Clicks or other shenanigans (Bizarro, the Kyle Raynor from above that we just talked about), this is a huge headache.

With her combination of Sharpshooter, Pen/Psy and Combat Reflexes, sometimes your best move is to simply Running Shot right next to your target and stay there–if they don’t have an available Outwit, it’s going to be very tough for most pieces to hit a 20 Defense–especially if Proxima hits them first and they’re mid-dial.

Lots of folks have been teaming her with Bill, Agent of A.I.M. to get that first shot in from a safe place where it’s hard or even impossible for the enemy to return fire. This is certainly a valid strategy; just be ever mindful of your positioning with her, because she can get chewed up from range real quick. Her native 18 Defense isn’t bad by any stretch, but she has no reducers of any kind. Of course, even if she does go down hard, she still has her final Trait (CULL OBSIDIAN: When Proxima Midnight is KO’d by an opposing character’s attack, deal damage to that character equal to the last amount of damage dealt to Proxima Midnight. This damage can’t be reduced below 1.) to leave as a parting gift. Oh, and Ninwashui is kind of a fan.

The Shapeshifter:

Zombie Super Skrull

GOTG062 Super Skrull: This was the winning Primary Piece at the Dial H ROC event, I believe. He’s 170 Points and possesses all the same Zombie Traits that every other Zombie Chase has. Those alone make him pretty good, but what he’s really good at is mimicking that Green Lantern Construct ability! Super Skrull’s Trait (IT’S HARD TO EMULATE FOUR POWERS WITH HALF MY LIMBS: Give Super Skrull a free action and choose up to one each of standard speed, attack, defense, and damage powers. Super Skrull can use the chosen powers until your next turn. For each power chosen this way, place a Power token on his card. At the end of your turn, roll a d6 that can’t be rerolled, and subtract 1 for each Power token on his card and remove all Power tokens from his card. On a result of 1 or less, deal Super Skrull 1 unavoidable damage.) lets him actually choose up to FOUR standard abilities to pick up on the fly, and he does it all AS A FREE ACTION (not every Construct flip with the Lanterns is gonna be a Free Action). He’s a multi-tool for every occasion! And with his Zombie Traits, you frankly don’t care about taking one measly damage, since you have multiple ways to get it back!

And he teams very well with Headpool and some of the other Z-Virus figs like–well, we’ll get into that in Part 2 when we talk about some possibly overlooked figures!

The Ol’ Standards:

"I;m back?! My dear, I never left!"

“I’m back?! My dear, I never left!”

–IIM051 Iron Pharaoh: He is still a thing, going forward. I don’t know if there’s a piece I’ve discussed more on this site. He’s one of my favorites to use, and he’s not going anywhere until he’s rotated out. There’s not really a format that he’s not at least above average in. Krampus/Helspont teams (and, to a lesser extent, Shatterstar teams) are probably his main weakness at the moment, but even then, he probably still has a 40%-50% of coming out on top. I’ll take those odds if I’m matched up against a team designed to exploit my fatal flaw. And while he keywords are actually pretty good, the fact that you can play whoever you want with him in this environment only makes him better–he doesn’t have any NAMED keywords, so he was never gonna get those Theme Team probs anyway!

Shatterstar

–WXM010 Shatterstar: At 73 Points, he seems like he should be considered a Secondary Attacker. And on many builds, he probably will be. However, there’s a good chance that his team is going to revolve around him anyway thanks to his easily exploitable Trait (X PORTAL: Once per game, give Shatterstar a power action. Place Shatterstar and an adjacent friendly character of a lower point value in any adjacent squares on the map.) and the fact that, top dial, he can Charge 5 squares, has an 11 Attack with both Flurry AND B/C/F (Yup. If the rolls go your way, a 73 Point character can dish out 12 Clicks of raw damage on the second freaking turn no matter where your opponent is on the map. And once he’s up close and personal with an opposing figure, they’ll have to hit a 19 to Damage him (17 native Defense plus Combat Reflexes). Hell, you can run two of him and still have almost 150 Points leftover for the rest of your army. He’s that good. And just like the comics, he pairs really well with Rictor, especially since they both have top dial Charge (and Rictor pumps up their Attack values).

Highfather

–SLOSH052 Highfather: Yes, he’s still hanging around. He’s a supporting piece masquerading as a primary figure. His top dial TK , Prob and Support are somewhat useful, but the only reason he’s really played is his Trait (THE PACT: At the beginning of the game, you may announce a pact. If you do, the highest point character on your force and the highest point character on your opponent’s force (300 points or less) can’t target opposing characters with an attack until one of them has taken damage from an attack or they are the only 2 characters on the map. This ability can’t be ignored.). He can shut down Tentpole pieces, but it’s very rare in this environment that you’re going to find yourself facing a really heavy-costed piece outside of Kyle or Zombie Super Skrull. And even then, it’s not inconceivable that they won’t have a supporting piece who can get a shot in on Highfather.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I think Highfather is a losing strategy at this point. If you go this route, you will run into a few games where he guides you to an easy win. You may even make Top 8, but usually by then you’re gonna face some really well-put-together teams that will have not one but MULTIPLE answers for Highfather, and your day will be done right quick. But I have to include him on this list because he is still out there and you may run into him.

Helspont Krampus 2

WK002 Krampus/SLOSH042 Helspont: These guys come as a pair. An unlikely one, I grant you, but they’re pretty effective. The basic idea here is to use these two along with Blind Al. You Perplex Krampus twice with Blind Al and Helspont (who also has Perplex) to get Krampus to a 12 Attack, then you give Blind Al a power action to activate her Booby Trap power and expel Helspont from the starting area and deal him one unavoidable damage. The tricky part here is to find a spot to place Helspont that’s outside of your starting area yet adjacent to Krampus (not all maps will have a good spot, so winning Map Roll will definitely help you here). Then you activate Helspont’s Movement Special (I INFILTRATED YOU LONG AGO: Give Helspont a double power action and select an opposing character of a lower point value. Place Helspont and the chosen character in each other’s squares, and after actions resolve, Helspont may be given a close or ranged combat attack as a free action.) to trade places with a key member of your opponent’s force who’s 199 Points or less. If at all possible, you want to choose someone who doesn’t have Shape Change, Super Senses or Probability Control (again, with no Themed Teams, Probability Control will be a lil’ easier to avoid) to take as many variables out of the equation as you can.

Then you activate Krampus’s special Capture Trait (NAUGHTY CHILDREN ARE MY HOLIDAY FEAST: Krampus can use the Capture ability. He can use it normally or, if the target is a higher point value, he must be given a double power action instead of a power action. When Krampus releases a captured character in his starting area, in addition to the normal effects, heal Krampus to his starting line.) and hope to all that is holy (or maybe unholy) that you hit. Krampus’s Attack Special gives him +1 to hit as well for each token on the target, so that will help you as well. With a 12-13 Attack, you should have a fighting chance against most figures.

You’ll probably have to wait through one round of clearing before you can release your Captive, but if you can succeed at all those steps, there’s a high probability that the game will be effectively over, especially if you were also able to take a Free Action shot with Helspont at another figure on your opponent’s team (and since there’s no chance of a Colossal-Sized Power Battery being in the way in their starting area in this environment, you should be good to go). Because Krampus never left his starting area, he’s still there, and he can release his Captive as soon as he has the ability to take a Power Action.

Now, if you miss with Krampus, you’re not doomed, since his Plasticity will keep most figures right where they’re at and he other Special Powers that grant him Super Senses and the ability to Perplex Attack Values down by -2, but you’ll also be giving your opponent a LOT more time to react, which is never good with this sort of combo team. There was also a ruling recently in the WizKids rules forum where they basically expanded the first turn Immunity rule to prevent you from doing this on your first turn; waiting until turn two isn’t exactly a dealbreaker, though–if you hit your rolls, crippling your opponent on turn two is just as effective as crippling him on turn one.

Hypersonic Speed is also a horrible matchup for this team (Speed Demon in particular, who people seem to have forgotten about so soon after his domination last season. But with his ability to cross the map in two turns, attack Krampus for 3 Damage AND also catch the creature in a Speed Cyclone Uplift, it’s possible he can KO Krampus in that token-clearing turn after he Captures someone but before he can release them.), but so far, we haven’t seen a ton of those figs show up in this specific Meta (outside of Super Skrull, who can gain it if he wants it). Having said all that, this is still a wickedly viable Build. I’d suspect you’d have much better results playing this than Highfather, at the very least.

The Best of the Rest:

Briefly, IIM001B Silver Centurion, ASM017B Brother Voodoo and WOL104 & WOL104R Guy Gardner are a few other figures you may run into in your ROC travels that are definitely still viable in the Meta.

Okay! So there you have it. Almost 5000 words on what you can expect to run into if you attend a ROC this season. Next time, we’ll discuss which former Meta figures you should avoid, and which figures and Builds you can try that haven’t really shown up yet this season.

Until then, stay safe, and watch where you draw your lines of fire!

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…

 

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!!

Top Ten Invincible Iron Man Figures!! (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write Almost 4000 Words about Silver Centurion!!)

Okay! I registered this blog like two weeks ago! Might be time to actually post something, eh? For my inaugural post, we’re gonna talk about some Marvel Clix!!

IIM has been out for awhile now, and as I’ve finally gotten to play with some of the pieces, I’m finally ready to rate these figs. This set turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would; I was not excited for more armored madness so soon after what I thought was a very strong Iron Man 3 movie set. But now that I’ve seen these pieces in action, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. My list is meant as a general rating of each figure’s effectiveness across a broad range of formats, not just Sealed or 300 point Meta games. I actually prefer 400 point games myself, but these figs all have uses in just about any gametype.

Firstly, there were a host of figures that just couldn’t crack the cream of the crop, but are still quite useful in their own right. This set has some surprising depth to it, and much of that depth makes up my:

5 HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Bulldozer (#014r) 70 points – Common: With his trait (HEAD DOWN, HEAD FIRST: At the end of your turn, choose a side of the square Bulldozer occupies. Lines of fire drawn to Bulldozer that pass through that side of the square are blocked until your next turn.), he’s basically a moving barrier that can also attack in a pinch and—probably more usefully—break through opposing barriers with his Improved Movement—Ignores Blocking Terrain and destroys blocking terrain as he moves through it. His attack is never more than pedestrian, and his defense won’t keep him around very long, but if you have time to line him up where you need him, you can cause some big headaches for your opponents. Just stay away from the Experienced version; for a whopping 75 more points, you get the SAME charge, SAME attack, 2 clicks of Invuln (granted, he defense goes up a tick to 18, but not until his second click!) and a measly one more damage. And if that somehow sounds okay to you, go look at Prime Hyperion’s dial and what 75 points gets you there. Yes, he’s a Prime, but 75 points is 75 points. Experienced Bulldozer is actually on the short list for WORST figs in the set, which makes this a very schizophrenic piece.

Tony Stark (#015) 70 points – Uncommon: A great support piece that has a lot of things going for it and only one real drawback—his most interesting ability (ARGONAUTS: Tony Stark can use Mind Control and Stealth. When he uses Mind Control, he may only target a single character with the Armor or Robot keyword, but may target friendly characters.) doesn’t show up until his second click. If he had that ability from the start, he would have most definitely made the Top Ten. Still, there’s a lot to like here. He alternates between Outwit and Perplex, he has a Stop click, so it’s really hard to one-shot him, and with his Extremis Healing Factor, he can even heal himself. And it’s all topped off by the Stark Industries keyword, which we’ll get into a little later (suffice to say it’s one of the best named keywords out there, and it doesn’t even have an ATA yet!)

King Hyperion (#041a) 266 points – Super Rare: A great piece, King Hyperion is tons of fun to play. He has a great mechanic (GENOCIDAL RAGE: Give King Hyperion a power action and make a close or ranged combat attack targeting a single friendly character with a point value of 15 or more. If he KO’s that character with this attack, after actions resolve, heal him of 1 damage, remove all action tokens from him, and modify his combat values by +1 until your next turn and he may immediately be given an action as a free action that may be used to activate this power again.), but once again, it doesn’t show up until click 2. Notice a recurring theme with these Honorable Mentions? You have to hope you can safely guide them to their second clicks! Not too hard in most cases, but if you make these pieces the focus of your army (which you’d HAVE to do in King Hyperion’s case), you’re adding an element of uncertainty to your strategy. Also, at the end of the day, Hyperion (the Prime version of this fig) is just a lil’ bit better.

Iron Paladin (#053) 110 points—Chase: He’s a Chase piece, so many folks will never get a chance to use him (although most of the Chases from this set are pretty reasonable on eBay right now—about the cost of 2 boosters). Still, he’s pretty efficient as a close combat attacker with good average AV’s and a great Attack ability (SWORD OF FAITH: Opposing characters can’t use defense powers when they are the target of Iron Paladin’s close combat attack.) that is probably the best answer right now to the “How do I take down Absorbing Man?” dilemma that’s cropping up in the Meta. The fact that he picks up Mystics in the latter part of his dial and has a roughly 55% chance to regenerate into another Chase figure AFTER HE’S K.O.’d earns him a spot just outside the Top Ten.

Maggia Goon (#004) 20 points – Common: A 20-point fodder piece almost makes the Top Ten?! Well, yeah, when you can effectively tie figs up that are 5 times your cost (or more!), you deserve a pretty good ranking. Plasticity plus a VERY interesting defensive power (PROTECTION RACKET: When targeted with an attack, Maggia Goon may use the printed defense value of the character targeting him.) make him a really annoying nuisance for anyone unlucky enough to play against him. He’s got an OK keyword (Maggia) that makes him cool to run with Count Nefaria (but doesn’t lend itself to much else), and he eventually picks up a 1-damage Exploit Weakness if he’s forced to do damage in the middle of the game, but all of that just wasn’t enough to push him from the fringes of Honorable Mention and into the Top Ten… but it was close. Did I mention he’s only 20 points?

And now, without further ado, the Top Ten figures in Invincible Iron Man!

TOP TEN:

10. Grey Gargoyle (#046) 95 points—Super Rare: This was the hardest figure for me to place on this list. I can make an argument for him not being included at all; I can also make the case that at #10, he’s not getting nearly the respect he deserves. I just don’t know. Having said that, this feels about right. When this figure appeared on the setlist, like most people I assumed he was really just an average figure with a few tricks up his sleeve that was really just meant to give folks someone to revert Mokk into. Now that I’ve seen his dial, he’s actually much more interesting than I first gave him credit for.

All three of his special abilities (GRADUAL PETRIFICATION: When an adjacent opposing character would clear action tokens, that character only clears one action token instead of two.  & STONE SWIPE: Grey Gargoyle can use Incapcitate. When he uses Incapacitate, he may give up to two action tokens to a hit target. & STONE SHATTER: Grey Gargoyle deals pentrating damage to characters with two action tokens. ) are great. I think it was Edward Shelton who pointed out on “Dial H for Heroclix” a few weeks back that putting tokens on your opponent’s figures is always good, even though it seems like players in the Meta sometimes go through cycles where they forget how devastating Incap can be and then almost have to rediscover its power. I almost equate it to card advantage in Magic: The Gathering—if you draw more cards than the person sitting across from you, you’re probably gonna win. Well, in Heroclix, if you are taking more meaningful actions than your opponents, you’re probably beating them. And so folks will come up with crazy ways to do that, whether it be with Duo Attack or crazy shenanigans with Stealth or Barrier, and sometimes they’ll forget that the easiest way to accomplish this is Incap.

Stone Swipe is as good as close combat Incap gets. But that’s also my problem with this figure. He is all about close combat, but his defense might be too chewy for him to get close enough to opposing figures to wreak havoc. He also has no Willpower of any kind to effectively take advantage of all the tokened figures he’s generating. You can give him Nul’s Hammer, but there’s a lot of figures who suddenly become tenable in a variety of formats if you give them a Hammer. He’s got great keywords in A.I.M., Masters of Evil and Scientist, but at 95 points, he almost HAS to be your secondary attacker in a 300 point game. The good news there is that he has great damage values for his point level. Still, with all the question marks hanging over Gargoyle’s role, #10 feels like the right landing spot for him on this list.

9. Iron Pharaoh (#051) 110 points – Chase: The best of the Chases, Iron Pharaoh boasts a 9 (9!!) range and a trait that should practically let you see half the freaking map at any one time (GOLDEN FALCON, SOARING: When Iron Pharaoh is first placed on the map, place a Falcon special terrain marker in an adjacent square. Give Iron Pharaoh a free action to move this marker up to 3 squares. Iron Pharaoh can draw lines of fire and count range (up to 3 squares) from the Falcon marker using Improved Targeting: Ignores Hindering Terrain, Ignores Elevated Terrain, Ignores Outdoor Blocking Terrain, Ignores Characters.) His second click is the best, as he defense stays at 18 (it goes from Invuln to Toughness, but I can live with that tradeoff) and he keeps Outwit but his attack goes up to 11 and he gains a pretty good Mind Control special power (PHARAOH’S SLAVE: Iron Pharaoh can use Mind Control, but only to target characters of fewer points that himself. When he does, after actions resolve, deal 1 unavoidable damage to the character he hit with his Mind Control.) Some late dial Pen/Psy and Prob Control means that he should be a steady damage dealer throughout his dial, and he defense against ranged attacks never goes below 17.

He’s kind of Fantomex-lite, with some distinct advantages and disadvantages. Since he produces a special Terrain token, and not a bystander token, his Falcon is a lot harder to mess with than E.V.A., who’s a Bystander. E.V.A., on the other hand, can move 8 spaces at her leisure, whereas the Falcon can only move three. The Falcon gives the Pharaoh some of the best Improved Targeting in the game, whereas as E.V.A. just gives Fantomex Toughness. Both extend their parent figures range quite a bit, with E.V.A. giving Fantomex an essentially 13 range and the Falcon only adding 3 to the Pharaoh (although, with his native 9 range, he can cover quite a bit of the board). The Pharaoh is 32 less points than Fantomex, which also helps in the grand scheme of things. To be clear, I’m NOT saying this piece is as good as Fantomex; just that he’s in the same ballpark. The fact that you don’t even have to start the game playing Iron Pharaoh and there’s still like a 55% chance that he can pay huge dividends for you is kind of mind-blowing (“Well, that does it. You killed my Stealth Suit Iron Man. Let me just make a roll here and—oh, look at that. I get to bring in Iron Pharaoh. On his best click. For free. Cool.”).

Add in some strong keywords, and you have just a solid, solid piece. I don’t think he’ll have a huge 300 Meta impact, but he really starts to shine in 400 point games, which opens up a few more shenanigan build possibilities.

8. Crimson Cowl (#031) 57 points – Rare: One of the best support pieces in the set with some more great keywords. Hammer Industries can give her limited Perplex, which is really NEVER not worth 5 points. While her attack never goes beyond “pedestrian,” attacking is one of her least efficient uses. She has arguably the best pound-for-pound Leadership ability in Modern right now, and she starts with first turn TK. And if she goes off top click, she gains a plasticity and Carry Special. A support piece under 75 points that can TK OR Carry other figs AND take action tokens off them AND Perplex any stat but damage—that’s pretty damn good. If you’re playing a Hammer OR Masters of Evil team, Crimson Cowl should be one of the first figs you reach for. Great in both 300 or 400 point games.

7. Rescue (#002) 65 points – Common: So, like a lot of people, when I’m evaluating figures and I get really excited, it’s usually because the figure falls into one of two categories. The piece will either be a heavy hitter with a hefty cost but great stats and abilities; or, as in the case of Rescue, I’ll see everything she offers and then do a double take when I see how much she costs. Perplex (on everything but damage), Flight, first-click TK, DOUBLE Incapacitate with an 11 AV and 6 range, with Force Blast and 17 Defense with Toughness thrown in just for good measure… I mean, this dial seems like it should cost 90 points or more. Then you throw in her Traited ability that lets her carry up to THREE figs if they’re not on their first click, and I start drooling. Doesn’t matter if they fly, or if they have the transporter symbol, or if they’re a Duo (as long as they are on a single base—oh look, IM3 has two Duos that occupy a single base AND share keywords with her for good measure!) Rescue is the best common in the set, and she has uses across the format board. Sealed? If I pull her, I’m playing her! 300 point Constructed? Depending on any stipulations, I’m gonna seriously think about it. 400 points? You can build a FILTHY Stark Industries team and you’d BETTER have Rescue on it. Stark Industries hasn’t had a huge impact (beyond the number one fig—we’ll get to him in a few minutes) on the Meta yet (partly because they’ve yet to receive an ATA), but in formats larger than 300, they are really sick. In 300 (if you’re using resources—my venue typically doesn’t allow it unless it’s the resource for a storyline event like Fear Itself or AvX), you could do a lot worse than something like Booklip (50 points), Rescue & Silver Centurion. You would still have 14 points left for ATA’s or whatever you want. But in addition to boosts from the book, you’d have Enhancement, TK, Double Incapacitate, Perplex (on anything but damage) AND Support backing up a constantly free-quaking Silver Centurion, who would also be backed up by his torpedo. AND you’d have 2 Theme Team Probs. That army wouldn’t dominate the Meta by any means, but you could certainly be competitive. Tony’s girl is just ridiculous.

6. War Machine (#029b) 245 points – Prime: Outside of some merely average attack values, this guy is sick. With running shot, his range is effectively 14 squares with a PRINTED 5 DAMAGE! And with his Alpha Strike ability, he can push to take two attacks in one turn. Just sick. Then you look at his trait: RETALIATORY STRIKE: Each time War Machine is targeted with an attack, put a Retaliation token on this card. Give War Machine a free action and remove 2 Retaliation tokens; he then may make a ranged combat attack against a single target. That is just silly. He doesn’t even have to take damage or even be freaking hit. This means that at some point, the designer of this piece was like, “Let’s give this 245-point tank MORE FREE ATTACKS!” And everyone else in the office was like, “Yeah, we’re cool with that. We’ll cosign that.” Whaaaa… ? I still like the IM3 War Machine with a built-in Duo Attack just a bit better for 25 less points, but man, it’s close. Sick, heavy hitter. But he’s not even the best War Machine in the set when you consider point cost…

5. War Machine (#029a) 125 points – Rare: 125 points for this? Sign me up! Just like his Stark Industries keyword-sharing sister-from-another-mister Rescue, War Machine makes you hold up and go, “Wait a minute. Is this secretly a 150-point character masquerading as 125 secondary attacker?! In addition to two great Team abilities (Avengers AND S.H.I.E.L.D. AND Stark Industries—Booklip, anyone?), and three great named keywords, this War Machine can dish out a bunch of damage and he can do it from about 14 squares away. Add in his Trait: VARIABLE THREAT ADAPTATION: At the beginning of the game, choose a standard power. When an opposing character attacking War Machine can use the chosen power, modify its attack and damage values by -1 for that attack. And suddenly your lil’ 125-point War Machine is shooting for 4 damage and isn’t taking very much in return. This is the War Machine that you’d get at a place like Costco; the other War Machines all look like you’d paid retail!!

4. Hyperion (#041b) 275 points – Prime: Whoa. Talk about beefy. 275 points, so pretty much a 1-man army in a 300-point contest, but man… Power Cosmic, 19 D with Impervious, 12 attack w/Super Strength with a printed 5 damage and—oh yeah—Hypersonic Speed with 13 movement! Has Avengers keyword (always helpful), but what I really like is that even if your opponent chews through his first four big clicks, he still has 200 points worth of dial left, and he gains the second best Improved Targeting available with an 8 range! One-man armies are usually too limited to do much in Meta, but he’d be a lot of fun to play! In a 400 point game, he’s deadly! Love this piece!

3. Count Nefaria (#048) 244 points – Super Rare: Arguably the best non-Stark Industries guy to build a 300-point army around from this set (although the next guy on the list may have something to say about that), Nefaria is 244 points and 11 clicks of flat nasty. He starts with 3 clicks of Hypersonic, and on that third click, he gains Power Cosmic (essentially), 18 D with Imperv, 12 attack and his damage goes up to 5. Oh, and right before you finally get him double chipped and surrounded, this happens: IONIC ENERGY RECHARGE: Once per game, give Count Nefaria a free action. Until your next turn, Count Nefaria ignores all damage dealt to him by opposing characters’ attacks unless it is a critical hit. Unbelievable. So, unless you’ve built your Meta around Longshot (and props to YOU, sir, if you have), you’re probably not gaining any ground on the 5-damage, 12-attacking Madman with superspeed. As the bad man said to Liam Neeson in Taken, “Good luck.“ I’m not saying Ionic Energy Recharge is broken, but I feel pretty confident in saying that I don’t think we’re gonna see another power that just spits on opposing attacks like this for quite some time…

2. Absorbing Man (#103) 153 points – LE: (URU METAL: When Absorbing Man is dealt damage or healed, roll a d6. Absorbing Man ignores the damage dealt or healed unless it is the same as the result of the d6. This power can’t be countered or ignored.) Wow. That escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand. Okay, so I stand corrected. THIS power might be kind of broken. Maybe not, but close. Good Lord, Wizkids! So this guy kind of changes things. 5 clicks for 153 points and he might be UNDERcosted. That sick gut-punch feeling you get when you maneuver things just the way you want them, and then move in for that big hit with an object only to watch helplessly as your opponent effortlessly hits his stupid Shape Change role? Yeah, prepare to feel that quite a bit against this guy. He’s almost not worth attacking unless you can do 5 damage and finish him in one shot. If you get three or four damage through, your simply helping him get to his Flurry clicks where he can start doing massive damage. His trait (ABSORBS ANYTHING: When Absorbing Man is hit with an object or is given a power action when adjacent to a heavy or light object, place that object on his character card and remove any other objects that are on it. When Absorbing Man has a light object on his character card, modify his attack and damage values by +1. When Absorbing Man has a heavy object on his character card, modify his attack and damage values by +2.) really helps out with his low AV’s, and if he gets a Hammer or the Gauntlet, forget about it. This guy should open up some really cool builds in the Meta.

1. Silver Centurion (#001b) 161 points – Prime: Now we’re talking! This piece has already made waves in the Meta, with several top 16 finishes in some of the recent ROC Qualifiers and other tourneys. There’s really nothing not to like here. Very reasonable point cost for your main attacker. He brings his own backup with his first trait (PULSE BOLT TORPEDO: Once per game, give Silver Centurion a power action to put a Torpedo special terrain marker on the map in an adjacent square. When the Torpedo is on this map, you may give Silver Centurion a free action, put an Acceleration token on this card and then move the Torpedo equal to the number of Acceleration tokens on this card as if it were a character with “wing symbol” and Improved Movement: Ignores Characters. At the beginning or end of your turn, if the marker’s square is occupied by an opposing character, you must remove the marker from the map and make a close combat attack roll against that character with an attack value of 11 and a damage value equal to the number of Acceleration tokens on this card, maximum 7.) and his second trait is stupid good as well (HEAT, ACID, AND RADIATION-SHIELDED: Silver Centurion ignores damage dealt by Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Poison, and Pulse Wave. This power can’t be ignored.). In other words, if you want to take him down (in between avoiding his errata-dodging Torpedo, mind you) you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way and go right through his 18 Impervious AND Shape Change. You could try Exploit Weakness, but you have to get to him first, which won’t be easy with his 8 range and 11 Movement top dial. He has two bolts and 4 printed damage as well, so he can just pound folks before they can run up to him. This is why some of the other heavy hitters like Titanium Man and the Iron Man and War Machine duo didn’t make my list; yes, the Centurion is a Prime (so his point cost is gonna be determined a lil’ differently to begin with), but you just pay soooo much less for him than any of the other big’uns. And on top of everything else, he has the Stark Industries AND Avengers keywords. He’s the most efficient attacker in the set, and that’s why he’s number one on my list.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave your reactions—or even your own Top Ten—in the comments below.