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!!)

BTAS Banner.jpg

[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!

 

BTAS SLASHES.jpg

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!!

Advertisements

The Ghost of Christmas Future is Back With Some Irresponsible Indy Speculation!! (Or, The Fifth Night of Clix-Mas!!)

[EDITOR’S NOTEWelcome to Clix-Mas 2017, 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 2017 can be found right here! And we announced a new Holiday Scenario for our local venue on Night Two! And the Ghost of Christmas Past named a few of his favorite things from the past Clix year right here! And yesterday, the Ghost of Christmas Present left us his Top Ten Figures from Star Trek: Away Team!!]

Christmas Future 2

So we’re always talking about what we’d like to see Wizkids do with their Marvel or DC licenses, but we never talk about the independent stuff they put out, and where we’d like to see them take those properties.

Well, not anymore! Today is all about what we want to see coming down the pike from Wizkids and their non-Marvel, non-DC releases!

 

Ninja Rap

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES:

What We Want: 

TMNT: The Movies Clix!!

This one is easy. They’ve almost done everything they can with the animated Turtles Clix, and I’m honestly not sure there’s a ton more to be mined from the comics, either.

But they could, like, TOTALLY squeeze two or three sets from the live-action Turtles movies! Who doesn’t want a vintage Vanilla Ice piece with some sort of “Ninja Rap” Damage Special, or a Megan Fox as April O’Neil figure (it would at least have to be better than her Megan Fox as Lilah from Jonah Hex piece, right?)?

Chances We’ll Actually Get It:

Honestly? Probably not good. From what I understand, this might be a bit of a licensing nightmare. It would be a license of several 20-25 year old properties that were themselves licensed products that were capitalizing on the success of an animated series that was itself licensed from an independent comicandnowmybrainhurts!!

Still, stranger things have happened…

 

DS9 mirror mirror.jpg

STAR TREK:

What We Want: 

Everyone wants original cast movie Clix or TNG clix. That would be fine with me. But I’d love a set that’s focused on all of the “Mirror Universe” characters that have floated in and out of Trek’s continuity!

Whether that means a whole set of Alternate Reality pieces (sort of a Star Trek version of the What If… ? or Elseworlds sets we just got) from throughout Trek’s history, or just a DS9 set with a “Mirror” Sub-Theme, those are the pieces that would have me reserving a Brick at my FLGS.

Chances We’ll Actually Get It:

It’s not impossible, but it’s probably years away. If Star Trek: Away Team sells well, we’ll probably see two or three more sets focused on the Original Cast and the TNG folks before they’d really consider making any DS9 characters (and with them, the DS9 “Mirror” characters).

Still, the fact that the Mirror folks have their own Team Ability is a good sign…

 

Horrorclix.jpg

Heroclix UNDEAD (aka HORRORCLIX):

What We Want: 

Undead was fun, but I want to see the full return of the Horrorclix brand!! I actually think they had the right idea when they started of mixing original properties with specially curated licensed releases, all under the Horroclix name.

Imagine a Horrorclix Buffy set, all designed with modern rules in mind, all Modern Age tournament legal. Or a re-release of a Colossal Cthulu, followed by Gravity Feed set of more Dead Presidents (like Zombie Lincoln).

This would be a great way for Wizkids to hit up popular licensed properties without having to commit to more than one or two sets at a time!

The possibilities are endless!

Chances We’ll Actually Get It:

Pretty dubious. I think Wizkids has become much more cautious when it comes to licensing other properties for Heroclix (which, by the way, isn’t necessarily a bad thing). That said, the idea of, say, going to Target to buy an Alien Queen sort of Raid Scenario for two or more players sounds like a lot of fun to me. But first we need to see if we’ll even be getting more Undead pieces!

 

Okay, that’s all for now folks! Come back and see us tomorrow, when we’ll talk about what properties Wizkids has never Clix’d but should seriously consider. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Should Everything Old Be New Again? Part 1!! (Or, Does Heroclix Need a Rotating Base Set?)(Or, The Fifth Night of Clix-Mas!!)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again (and this time, with feeling!), we are shamelessly unleashing the 12 Nights of Clix-Mas! Tonight is Night 5! If you missed The First Night of Clix-Mas, you can read what it’s all about right here! Night 2 was the nascent edition of a new holiday scenario we’ve been cooking up and can be found… here-ish! Night 3 took a brief look back at Horrorclix. Night 4 was the debut of a new feature called “Overlooked” which examined some pieces from World’s Finest that don’t see quite as much play as they seemingly should… ]

han-young

Everything old…

han-old

... is new again!

Welcome to Night 5 of the 12 Nights of Clix-Mas!!

Tonight is also Part 1 (of 3) of a brief series wherein I ask the question, “Does Heroclix need a base set?,” attempt to answer that question, and then take a look at what a Marvel base set and DC base set would look like.

First, though… what is a base set?

Well… I’m specifically talking about a Modern Age set that would (primarily) contain figures from recently rotated expansions that would give newer players a slightly easier entry into the game than going full bore into the lastest booster set. Additionally, it would allow veteran players a second opportunity to use select pieces from retired sets in Modern Age games as the Meta moves forward.

If this is starting to sound a little familiar, well…

magic-alpha

It’s probably because Magic: The Gathering…

magic-origins

… has been doing this for 23 years!

Yup! Magic has already pioneered the Core set concept. I’m just blatantly stealing from them. In fact, most successful TCG’s have used some form of this idea at some point. Heck, even Heroclix has had a set of reprints before–Marvel Classics, anyone?

Except I think it’s time for Wizkids to take it to the next level. If I were them, I would release one Marvel Set and one DC Set every year that featured pieces from every set that just rotated out, and I would keep each piece at the same rarity level–Common, Uncommon, Rare or Super Rare–that it was in its original set. But then I would create all new Primes and Chases! And it would all be Modern Age.

This would open up the Meta to awesome new Build possibilities every year while still allowing long time players to feel like all–or at least some–of their old pieces have value beyond just the occasional Golden Age tournament at their local venue.

From Wizkids’s perspective, they would be able to add another two full set releases to the calendar, yet those releases would have cheaper overhead to produce since 80-90% of the release would feature re-used sculpts.

Currently, Wizkids schedules big expansion set releases for February, May, August and November. I would push each of those releases back a month so that we get sets in March, June, September and December, with the normal January dead zone now becoming the month every year where Wizkids releases their new Core sets.

Now, what would those sets look like? I’m glad you asked!

Because that is tomorrow’s topic!

Until then, stay Safe, and Watch Where You Draw Your Lines of Fire!!

Things to Do In Gaming When You’re (In a Heroclix) Dead (Zone)!! (Or, the Fifth Night of Clix-Mas!!)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is part of the 12 Nights of Clix-Mas, an ongoing Critical Missives Clix celebration wherein we’re trying to publish new content for 12 straight days. If you’ve missed anything, you can check out Night 1, Night 2, Night 3 or Night 4 just by clicking the preceding links!]

Bored Baby

So we’re just about to that time of year when ‘Clix news kind of goes dark for awhile and there’s not much happening in the Heroclix world. Flash was great, but December and January generally don’t bring much in the way of new product (there may be some Attack Wing or Yu-Gi-Oh! stuff going on, but that’s about it). Which is fine. February is gonna start a string of four straight months of major releases (JLA: Trinity War, Avengers Assemble, Avengers: Age of Ultron and, um, Avengers: Age of Ultron–and those are just the bigger sets!), so, honestly, a lot of folks could probably use the breather (I know my wallet could).

Even talking with some of the folks at my local venue, I know this is the time of year where general Heroclix fatigue starts to set in a little bit. I’m personally psyched for JLA and Avengers sets, but I know some players who were much more excited about visiting more of the strange corners of the Marvel and DC Universes in the Deadpool and Flash sets. Which is fair enough. The point is, at some point, everyone probably needs to take a breather–even if it’s from a hobby that you love.

Personally, I love gaming in all sorts. So today, we’re gonna take a look at some other games that readers of this blog might find interesting to pursue while we wait for February!

 

The Blizzard Universe:

Blizzard-Logo

 

Games They Make:

Starcraft II

World of Warcraft

Hearthstone

Diablo III

Heroes of the Storm

OverWatch

 

Activision/Blizzard has been making addictive games for twenty years, but most of their games have a strong sci-fi/fantasy element that may appeal to folks who enjoy spinning dials on miniature versions of their favorite comic book heroes. The other important thing about Blizzard games is that they’re constantly evolving; not just with big expansions that you have to buy separately (although their is that for World of Warcraft, Starcraft II and Diablo 3), but with monthly–or in some cases, even weekly–patches that constantly create new goals and rewards for players.

The other things that really sets Blizzard apart is their storytelling and their wonderful roster of characters. In many circles, Sarah Kerrigan, Jim Raynor, The Lich King, Thrall, Malfurion and Illidan, Deckard Cain and Diablo are just as iconic as Captain America, Iron Man, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

Now, the two games I really want to focus on here are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. Why? Because they’re both (theoretically) free to play.

Hearthstone:

Hearthstone Gameplay

Hearthstone is an online Collectible Card Game featuring characters and settings from the Warcraft universe (specifically World of Warcraft). While you can certainly buy expansion packs with cash (at a sliding scale if you buy in bulk; expect to pay between about $1.16 and $1.50 for a pack of 5 cards), you can also earn in-game gold by completing daily quests to buy the exact same packs. Also, the game gives away packs at certain times (for example, if you logged in during the launch of the newest expansion, Goblins Vs. Gnomes, you were rewarded with 3 free packs).

There are also deck-specific cards that you can earn for free as you play through the tutorial for each character class.

In the long run, you may end up investing a little money, but the barrier to entry is low. It’s not the perfect CCG, but it has a lot of potential and it’s a pretty shallow learning curve that offers it’s own Meta game once you get the basics down.

Heroes of the Storm:

Heroes-of-the-Storm-Screenshot-1

This game isn’t even out yet, but it’s already generating a lot of buzz–and you can sign up for the Beta right now on their website! Described by its own developers as a “team brawler of heroic proportions,” Heroes of the Storm plays almost like a RTS version of Super Smash Brothers. Basically, you choose your Blizzard cannon hero, get teamed up, and try to take out your opponent. As previously stated, folks are eagerly anticipating this game’s release, and it should be free to play.

 

Marvel: Avengers Alliance:

avengersalliancescreens1

This is a Social Networking game I got hooked on back in 2012 and have occasionally revisited ever since. Like many games of this sort, it is free to play, but only to a point. You can advance in this game and never spend a dime, but it will be slow going.

Basically, you play as yourself AS A S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT, and as you go along you start collecting different Avengers to assist you (as playable characters). This game features an obscene amount of grinding, but there is a sort of Pokemon-style satisfaction that you get every time you collect a new playable character. Each character can also be outfitted with different items and leveled up, so there’s plenty to do. Also, the developers’ definition of “Avenger” is pretty loose–yeah, you can add Cap and Thor to your team, but you can also earn part-time Avengers like Moon Knight or Tigra, or even never-really-was-a-proper-Avenger characters like Squirrel Girl. Some of the most powerful characters in the game are actually villains that you earn the right to add to your team (guys like Magneto or Doctor Doom).

This game is definitely a time suck, but, like I said, you can play it for almost no money.

 

Fanduel:

Fanduel Images

 

This one’s for the ‘Clixer who’s also a huge sports fan. Fanduel offers daily fantasy leagues (entry fees start at as little as $1–you can pay through PayPal) that pay out real money (DISCLAIMER: This site deals in real money, so if you’ve had gambling issues in the past, please stay far, far away…) as soon as that day’s games end. All the major sports are available to play (when they’re in season).

The way it works is pretty simple. You get a salary cap (usually around $60k); you select your roster of players; and then you watch as everything your players do that day earns you points. If you’ve picked wisely enough, you’ll usually earn back your entry fee (although you can win a lot more, too). If you haven’t, well, there’s always tomorrow.

From a Heroclix perspective, what I like about playing this sort of Fantasy game are the decisions you have to make when building your roster. It’s not unlike how you would approach building a team in Heroclix. You only have so much available capital to use, so you can’t just take every superstar you want (in the same way that you usually can’t fit more than one high-cost figure onto a 300-Point ‘Clix Build). You want Lebron James on your NBA team? You can have him, but it may mean starting Khris Middleton in your other Small Forward spot. Who’s Khris Middleton? Exactly.

 

Well, that’s it for today. But if your looking for a cheap (-ish) gaming distraction while we wait for next year’s new offerings, hopefully something above strikes your fancy!

And tomorrow night, we’ll be right back here for Night 6 of the 12 Nights of Clix-Mas! We’re gonna take a look at the WORST figures in Flash!

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