Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baseball Season was late this year...

With the latest All New, All Different Marvel HeroClix set X-Fans were treated to yet another Wolverine, one with an incredible healing Trait. Players have been talking about Logan's healing factor, strategizing his uses with X-Force and Wild Cards in sealed events, but so far no one has said anything about the classic combo...


There's really no mystery why people haven't been talking about it. Since Fastball Special was introduced as a game mechanic it proved to be a dud.

Mutant Mayhem debuted the famous power play as a feat, with wordy text only a rules lawyer could decipher and make work:

Prerequisites: Chosen characters must have the same team ability printed on their bases; see feat text.

Choose two characters; if one of them is KOd before this feat is used, remove the feat from the game.

Give both characters a power action when they are adjacent: The first character must have Super Strength and the second character must be grounded and have Toughness and may not have a damage value higher then 3. The first character makes a ranged combat attack against a single opposing target within 6 squares. Place the second character in any square adjacent to the target to which the first character has clear line of fire. If the attack succeeds, the second character deals the damage. Remove the Fastball Special from the game after the attack resolves.

So, every second Sunday when the moon was in the house of Orion, at the exact moment when a seven headed calf gave a goatsmilk popscicle to a three horned faun as the clock struck midnight the Fastball Special feat was used - which is to say in the 5 years since the feat was created I never saw it played once, over hundreds of games.

Still, fans wanted that comic flavor, and when Special Powers rolled around, Game Design tried again with a replacement pitcher.

It's a slightly more usable version, one that players have tinkered with, using the Outsiders ability to negate modifiers on the thrown character. It's the restrictions that prevent it from being used often. For starters, initial damage from the ranged attack is a measly two - not enough to hurt Invulnerable figures, and barely enough to make a Toughness equipped opponent flinch. This relegated Colossus to target a soft defense figure (or have a source of Outwit nearby to make it stick).

Further setbacks include attack and damage modifier penalties, but the biggest drawback was the unavoidable damage taken from the throw - unless the fastball figure's second click was better than the first, it seemed there was little point to giving up a click of life on a figure that was moved adjacent to (read: within retalliation range of) an opposing figure. In short:

Only a crazy man would want to get thrown
Enter WoS Wolverine. His second click is the same as his first. His claws offset damage modifiers. He has an 11 attack, modified to a decent 9. But the biggest selling point is Wolverine's ability to heal automatically at the beginning of his turn, offsetting the unavoidable damage. With no move and attack of his own, the X-Force leader makes a perfect missile except for one thing.

An Adamantium skeleton should count as a heavy object.

At the very least, if Pete's only dealing 2 damage, make it 2 penetrating damage - the Russian throws fast and hard.

The new Fastball Special is not a perfect set-up and some players will hesitate to push six click Logan down to five - but it is a step closer to comic accuracy. Wolverine is able to shrug off the impact with ease, something the Healing Factor Trait showcases.

The Fastball Special should be feared.

For my money, a dream version of Fastball Special would earn players bonus victory points every time it's used in game to hurt a figure, with double points awarded if an opponent actually gets KO'd by the attack. I'd like to see more combos and power plays, more examples of comic accurate teamwork with victory points rewarded as an incentive... enough incentive that an opposing player would try and stop the pitch from being thrown.

Hopefully Wizkids is practicing their pitches and we'll get to see a better version of the throw in the 2011 season.

No comments: