Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Terrible Twos!

When you're building a team in a sealed event take note of damage output. WoS has a case of the terrible twos - which will make chiseling through Toughness frustrating.

Figures like Morlun or the Hulks will be downright intimidating without some damage modification. There are a number of Super Strength, CCE, B/C/F and EW figures, so keep an eye out for anything that will help increase the pain.

On top of Terrible Twos, WoS gives us a number of lone ones. Researcher, Code: Blue, Mugger, MJ, JJJ, Mystero, Spot and Vapor start out with embarrassing binary damage. A number of other 2 damage figures drop to 1 after a few clicks including Chameleon, Peter Parker & Norman Osborne.

Of course some figures can't be expected to have powerful punches - MJ's a hugger, not a slugger. Still, it's hard to justify spending 25% of a 300 point build on a figure that dishes out damage a click at a time.

Fortunately Vapor & Mysterio have their benefits as well (PC, Perplex, EW, or Poison). Still, it's a long road to victory when you're earning it one click at a time.

The New Sinister Split

When you're looking at set design Web of Spider-Man is a lot like Sinister, not just in terms of character selection (Bullseye, Scarlet Spider, Venom, Spider-man, Wolverine) but also in terms of dial layout.

However, where Sinister showcased a frustrating 9 attack, 17 damage split (meaning attack rolls were harder to land), WoS squeezes the 9/17 gap by featuring a lot of characters with a 10/16 or even 9/16 split. Those 16 defense figs will get hit - a lot - so when possible avoid those 16’s.

There’s also a number of characters with higher defenses (and lower attacks!) - the 9/17 is back, as is the new normal 10/17 and while the attack spread isn’t as prevalent here as it was in Sinister, it is apparent the bar has been moved down a notch or three since Hammer of Thor.

Finally, as some have pointed out on HCRealms.com, the game designers put a few Easter eggs into the set in terms of combat values. Peter Parker shares exact dial layout (numbers not powers) with his clone Ben Reilley.

Likewise, Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, and Doppleganger all have the same raw stats.

Kind of a neat addition to an otherwise dynamic set!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Smells like Team Spirit

Team Abilities bring an added element to the battlefield. Web of Spider-man provides a number of TAs, but are they useful?

It's a Spider-man theme set, so there's plenty of Spider-Allies to go around with nearly a quarter of the set possessing the Wall Crawler's symbol on their dial. Lots of Wild Cards (compared to B&tB’s single WC TA) should mean lots of TAs to copy - however, only a handful of TAs are present in the set - Sinister Syndicate, SHIELD, X-men, the Marvel debut of the PD TA, and a few others.

Considering the lack of range, the PD & SHIELD TAs may be wasted. Don’t forget - when an SP gives a character range it usually cannot be modified (because the range is not printed on the dial).

The X-men TA might prove invaluable - swapping clicks of life can move a figure to a sweet spot or at least give them a second wind.

Groot is the only figure with a Defenders TA, though with all the Wild Cards in the set he'll easily find a friend to lend to (or borrow from). Perhaps the best TA offered in this expansion is also a shared ability - the Sinister Syndicate.

With the rules changes to Wild Cards in Blackest Night, Wild Cards can borrow or lend combat values again, making those Spider-Allies with a 10+ AV invaluable to teammates. There's not too many Sin-Syn members commonly available in 'Web - Chameleon is an Uncommon, Scorpion a rare, and the rest are SRs.

There's plenty of options for TA synergy in Web of Spider-man, and while players can't control their pulls in a sealed environment a TA may help a final decision when teambuilding. Since the point cost is already tacked onto the figure, consider,

If you're paying for the TA
you may as well try and use it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Get Ready For A Fist Fight!

The back alley brawl returns with Web of Spider-Man. I'm not talking about the battlefield condition, nope, I'm noting the set is overflowing with low to no ranged attack figures, putting an emphasis on old fashioned fisticuffs. Nearly half of the figures in the set have 0 range.

More than 60% of the figures in WoS
lack a range value better than 4.

On the flip side only 3 characters have 10 range (Cosmic Spidey, Bullseye and X-ray). The 8 figures with an 8 range are tent poles - mostly expensive, around 100 to 150 points, and easily take up a good chunck of a 300 point build total, leaving little room for support.

Take a look at the breakdown:
0 range - 26 figures
2 range - 3 figures
4 range - 14 figures
6 range - 10 figures
8 range - 8 figures
10 range - 3 figures

If you do pull a ranged heavy team, be sure to use the WoS map to your advantage - elevated terrain makes for good sniping. Keep moving though, rather than get boxed in and forced into hand to hand. Water Terrain will make it difficult to reach those flying, Running Shot figures.

Frontal assaults will prove daunting to the mobility challenged teams - unless you’re willing to slog through Water Terrain, (and there's plenty of Leap/Climbers in the set) this is a battlefield with about a 4 square wide bottleneck.

Get ready to run up and punch someone in the face.

Highly mobile tie-up pieces are a must and players should think of potential sacrificial pieces when building teams - someone to Leap/Climb or Phase/Teleport adjacent to a rooftop sniper if only to buy their teammates time to cross that bridge.

If you're a cautious, conservative, defensive minded player be prepared to change your play style. This set and map are not for timid players.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Web of Spider-man debuts the long awaited appearance of Spider-Man’s first “supervillain” (the mugger who shot Uncle Ben doesn’t count) better known as Russian Actor Dmitri Anatoly Smerdyakov Kravinoff. Or is he? As a Master of Disguise you never really know.

By all accounts he’s a normal human who has used costumes and technology to impersonate people from Daily Bugle Publisher J. Jonah Jameson, to Incredible Hulk nemesis General Thunderbolt Ross (apparently he has a thing for cigar chomping military hot heads). He’s even copied Peter Parker at one point.

picture courtesy HCRealms.com

His clix dial showcases mimicry abilities a Skrull would be jealous of, and given the amount of people he’s fooled over the years you have to wonder why this guy wasted his time fighting Spider-Man and robbing banks when he could have been a multi-million dollar multiple Oscar winning actor.

Unfortunately his combat prowess is all stage training. Chameleon has a sordid history of defeat, not only at the hands of Spider-Man, but also his supporting cast. Mary Jane took a Louisville Slugger to his kneecaps, Aunt May fed him some Ambien laced oatmeal cookies. In short, the guy knows how to lose.

picture courtesy HCRealms.com

Chameleon’s Heroclix dial represents his rather timid nature - he’s lurking in the shadows (Stealth), using some chemical concoction (most likely Rohyphenol) to Incapacitate his victims, and wearing disguises (Shape Change) to avoid detection.

Perhaps the most interesting defensive ability on his dial is Mastermind, if only because you have to ask - do I really want to keep this guy on my team? Do I really need to save his 9 AV to share with other Syndicate team members? Some Perplex or Outwit would go a long way in helping me decide.

One thing is certain - while he can’t do a lot of damage...
... the Chameleon is annoying.

For starters, Stealth is going to block Line of Fire, which means an opponent will have to get up close to deal with him. Once there, he’ll use a disguise to confuse would be assaulters - half of all attacks will avoid him, and even if he does take one to the chin, he can pass the damage off with Mastermind.

Judging by his stats, Chameleon is not an attack piece - he’s an annoying tie-up piece.

Someone who’s hard to get away from.
Someone who uses cunning disguises & manipulations to get his way.
Someone who drugs you when you’re not looking.
Someone who wears a smoking jacket?
Oh my gosh!

He’s the Continental!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A New Dimension to Gaming: (Wizkids did it right - part 3)

Heroclix was always branded as 3D gaming - taking the two dimensional characters off the page and putting them onto a map, playing out battles from four color funnybook panels. However, as time went on, game design injected some peculiar 2D elements into the mix, namely bystander tokens.

Bystander tokens (better known by the nickname "pogs") were poorly a named game mechanic, mostly because they often weren’t bystanders: Adeline Wilson was a crack shot with a rifle, The Challengers of the Unknown had their own comic title, and it was just an insult that Harvey Bullock was weaker than a Rookie Gotham Policeman. Don’t get me started on the Daughters of the Dragon, or this guy...

pick me next Wizkids!

With WoS we see a few more bystander tokens graduate to 3D - namely Mary Jane and J. Jonah Jameson. Some feel these figures have no place in a combat game, and I couldn’t disagree more. MJ & JJJ have been known to tussle opponents from time to time, and effect the battlefield when they can. Even Aunt May brained Doc Ock in Spider-man 2.

I welcome their inclusion in ‘Web, and look forward to seeing other iconic “supporting cast” figures in the future. The keyword is Iconic. I’m willing to admit that not every minor role needs a sculpted piece to go along with it - but the Rick Joneses, Jimmy Olsens’ and Snapper Carr’s of comics deserve some attention.

Where's my coffee, Parker!

And really, after 10 years of clix, and fifteen Marvel booster expansions it’s okay to burn a few slots on the little guys. It’s not like we really need another version of Elektra or the Beast anyway.

So to sum up the three things I think Wizkids did right with WoS:
1.)making Chases standard rarity
2.)bringing some excitement to the convention circuit
3.) graduating deserving characters from bystander status to 3d sculpts.

What do you think Wizkids has done right (or got wrong) with this latest set?

Wizkids did it right - part 2 of 3

Remember when going to a convention meant anything could happen? Before the internet gave us constant spoilers, and you had to rely on vague rumors from Jeff's brother down at the comic shop? When you didn't know what was going to be produced, (aside from the promo sheet) before you had the new product in hand?

Apparently Wizkids remembers, and brought some excitement back to big conventions with this year's Web of Spider-man's Gencon Debut.

A select few Heroclix fans got a sneak peak before the set's official release, participating in sealed booster events (reminiscent of the old style pre-releases circa Mutant Mayhem). This is what convention going should be about - an incredible sale point to get people to the convention and talking about the game.

Unfortunately Gencon came a full month before the set’s release, and with nearly 100% of the set spoiled some of the hype has faded. Still, it would be nice if some form of this tradition continued, especially if the time gap from preview to release could be shortened. I’m aware the old pre-releases had some kinks and corruption, but as a player there’s no substitute for learning dials on the fly and uncovering set lists firsthand, before they have a chance to be spoiled.

Here's to yet another thing the new boss got right!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wizkids did it right - part 1 of 3

I know I'm often vocal in my disappointment of the direction of Heroclix from time to time (see my Watchmen posts), so I think it's only fair to air some positive views as well. Web of Spider-man gives me that opportunity, and I'll be dedicating a few posts to what the new boss (Neca) is doing right.

The Chase is Off...

...and I'm happy. Love them or leave them, the issue of Chase figures and variants have split the Heroclix community time and again - with some fans nearly Hulking out in online forums defending their opinions, or turning green with envy at the lucky person next to them who pulls one in a sealed event.

Calm down Peter!

For whatever reason (production error? Fan backlash over Black Lantern chase figures? Marketing test?) Wizkids decided not to include the frenzy inducing extremely rare Chase figures in Web of Spider-Man.

In case you've been living with a bag on your head this past month, you probably haven't heard rumors that Wizkids opted to take the 4 figures that should have been slated for chase figures and made them Super-Rares, extending the set to 64 pieces.

There's been a lot of speculation as to the "whys?" of this decision - I prefer to think Wizkids threw the fans a bone here. With great power comes great responsibility, yadda yadda.

It doesn't take Captain Universe's Uni-Vision to see that including fun, but extremely rare Spider-Man variations in WoS like the Spider-Hulk, the FF costumed Bag-Man, and Cosmic Spidey would disappoint the casual players and cause a backlash.

Online message boards have been abuzz for years with rumors and hopes about the Captain Universe variant web-head, and now many, myself included will be grateful that they won’t have to pay upwards of $100 for a nostalgia evoking piece of plastic if they don't get lucky in booster pulls.

Whatever the reasoning behind the Chase disappearance is, I don't care. My chances to get a Super-Rare are better than the odds than pulling a Chase figure, much less 3 Chase figures I'd like to own and play - so I'm thankful for it.

Web of Spider-man is a celebration of what may be Marvel's greatest hero, cataloging decades of the troubled teen's adventures by offering several variations of Peter Parker and his crazy, psychotic symbiotic offspring.

You might need six arms if you want to grab them all!