Monday, December 30, 2013

Avengers Vs X-Men - HeroClix Figure Review: Cable

So you've got Cable - What's the Dish?

As the first prize to be fought over in the AVX HeroClix campaign, you would think Cable would be a bit of a game changer, but is he worth scooping up on the secondary market if you couldn't win him?

At 124 points, he stacks up next to the likes of Gambit (118), Legion (119) or Bishop (140), but he has a surprisingly vanilla dial. Notably absent is the Sharpshooter ability which somewhat diminishes the return of his twin targets and 7 range if he gets based.

Cable also lacks any front loaded move and attack, which is going to require added effort in positioning to get a first strike in. Fortunately he has Phasing/Teleport and Indomitable, so if he is based he can just pop away to fire off a round from a safer vantage next turn.

Toughness and Shape Change round out his top dial defense powers, though he gets a thicker skin (with a worse defense) mid dial, alongside some Perplex and an interesting take on the Duo attack ability.

Perhaps the best feature on this figure is his Avengers-hunter trait, granting him a decent bonus against the A-team (and making that Duo attack even more valuable). He's also got the BFF trait for Hope, and the two of them come out to about 200 points even, making for easy modular team builds.

From the dial designs and powers it's easy to tell this isn't *everyday* Cable, but rather a snapshot of Cable from this distinct story arc, which may limit his playability outside of this series, especially considering the synergy (and points paid) towards his traits.

He's not a must have, by any means, but will help stack the deck in the favor of the X-Men… for now.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Avengers Vs X-Men - HeroClix Figure Review: Cyclops

How does Cyclops hold up against an army of Super Soldiers, Gods and Monsters?

Starter set Scott "Cyclops" Summers comes in two flavors - and both have nearly the same power set! Because the two are so similar it makes the 50 point "Veteran" upgrade nearly obsolete. 

Consider - the 150 pointer is more fragile - a glass jaw in the literal sense with no damage reduction. He's best kept away from close combat, not that it matters - the combination of Sharpshooter and Improved Targeting are going to let him blast opponents regardless of base contact, walls, blocking terrain, etc. 

Both versions do 4 damage up front with Precision Strike. Both versions have Outwit and Leadership, with a special power that lets him remove tokens REGARDLESS of point cost, which makes him a must play with the Phoenix 5 in a high point game. 

Both start with Running Shot, but the cheaper version gets to add Knockback damage to his attack via Force Blast AND adds Force Blast as a free action. 

With all that in mind why pay the extra 50 points for what appears as a bit of a downgrade?

The pro side of using the costlier version is the added life and 2 clicks of 11 AV, a slightly better defense at range and a slightly longer range with Running Shot. Even in the 600+ point games, players are better served using the points to field more X-support than waste it on such a slight bump up for Slim.

At 100 points, Cyclops presents a threat on the battlefield without drawing too much attention to himself to make him a primary target. One big weakness this figure will have is his brother. Havok, from WatX's main expansion ignores all ranged attack damage from Cyclops and has the Avengers keyword, so watch out for sibling rivalry on the field.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Avengers Vs X-Men - HeroClix Figure Review: Captain America

So how does that AVX Captain America hold up under pressure at 200, or even 100 points?

It's a gamble to field anybody at 100 points with only 5 clicks to back them up - considering the number of figures that can dish out 5+ in the under 100 point crowd, this is asking for a quick KO. That said, Cap has enough going on that not only can he be fielded at 100, it's almost always a better starting level over the 200 point line (with only 3 more clicks of life, and not much in the way of better stats). 

What sets cap apart from others in his point level to clicks of life ratio range is his Super Soldier trait that lets him pick a defense power at the beginning of the turn. As he's a ranged attacker, he can keep back to the edge of the fight and make use of his repositioning Leadership sp and Empower while giving him an optimized defense. Improved movement to reposition and shoot will make pinning him down difficult, and Willpower on his full dial stretches out those 5 clicks.

At 200 he's noticeably better with more damage reduction and slightly better combat values and he has more options with Leadership, but consider that special attack Incapacitate: I'm less likely to use it at 200 points when I've got a natural 4 damage up top.

With all the Precision Strike and Penetrating Damage available, Impervious and 3 extra clicks just doesn't feel like a worthy investment (consider that 5 out of 6 of the AVX X-Men starter figs have access to damage penetrating powers). When you're fielding those 700+ point Avengers teams, then maybe it makes sense to pull out the stops and drop the double-C-note Steve on the field, but anything lower is just asking for trouble.

The X-Men don't have a Super Soldier equivalent (Wolverine is playing on the Avengers side) - at best they have Scott Summers who has some similar Leadership abilities between his WatX uncommon which negates TAs, and his starter kit version which can pull tokens off the ~300 point Phoenix figures.

As far as team leaders go, Cap has the edge over Cyclops - between support powers like Perplex and Empower, and sheer durability, as well as options between defense types (ES/D or CR) it's hard to argue against 80+ years of military experience.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Avengers vs X-Men Overview

Pick a side - any side will do. 

In the Avengers vs X-Men HeroClix event WizKids, makers of HeroClix are asking players to take a stand with one of the two teams based on the popular comic story arc. Will you side with the Avengers, who fear that the cosmic Phoenix Force may consume the earth, or will you stand with the X-Men as the defenders of mutants who have been persecuted and are now an endangered species?

With the event release both sides have a starter pack featuring 6 figures that played a key roll in the storyline, but does any one side have an advantage?

Some might say the X-Men have an edge, especially if the Phoenix Force resource dial is used for comic accurate play and only allowed to be equipped to mutants. The Phoenix 5 chases just released in the recent Wolverine and the X-Men set are also power houses - nearly 300 points of Power Cosmic, traits and special powers that will give Tony Stark a run for his money.

The Avengers are no slouches either - with several big bruisers of their own (Thors, Hulks, Iron Men) they can dish out as much damage as Xavier's former schoolchildren. Scarlet Witch can effectively shut off the Power Cosmic, and the Earth's Mightiest Heroes may have more allies than Marvel's mutes. 

So let's take a look at a few game mechanics that might give one team an edge over the other.


In terms of game play - one team clearly stands out over the others for team building options: The Avengers have plenty of keyword company counting just from Chaos War with a total of 66 figures available as broken down.

Characters with the Avengers Keyword (main sets only)
Invincible Iron Man: 6
Thor: TDW  2
Wolverine and the X-Men: 1 (Havok)
Iron Man 3: 7
Amazing Spider-Man: 8
Marvel 10th: 9
Chaos War: 33

Total: 66

Meanwhile the X-Men have only 1 real big set to draw from (and unfortunately the upcoming Days of Future Past set won't be released before the end of this tournament cycle). 

Characters with the X-Men Keyword (main sets only)
Invincible Iron Man: 2
Thor: TDW  0
Wolverine and the X-Men: 29
Iron Man 3: 0
Amazing Spider-Man: 2
Marvel 10th: 10
Chaos War: 2

Total: 45

The X-Men have nearly no presence in Incredible Hulk or Galactic Guardians, while the Avengers movie set has almost nothing but these Keyworded heroes. This gives the Avengers a distinct advantage in team build formations by the sheer number of options - nearly double that of the X-men when you add in the GG, IH, & AVM sets.


If that weren't enough - the Avengers have a number of lower point filler pieces that the X-Men can't compete with - 25 point Mockingbird, 35 point Black Widow, 48 point Rick Jones, 33 Point Don Blake, and so on. If this was to be a fair fight, then judges should maybe consider including the GSX figures in X-Men builds for some events, which would be a big injection of options for the X-crowd.

The Avengers also corner the market on point filling ATAs - with 4 options based off their existing keyword. The X-men however, have no ATAs for their keyword and must skirt the edges of other Keywords like X-Force or New Mutants to fill out teams.

Do the X-MEN stand a chance?

it looks like the deck is stacked against them, but looks can be deceiving, and the X-men have a solid history as Marvel's scrappy underdogs. One advantage the X-men have is their team ability. It may not seem like much, but the ability to heal a click is a much better value than a free move action, especially considering the length and point cost of some of the newer dials.

Despite being underdogs, the X-men have a lot of versatility in the power sets available to the characters on the team. Figures like Legion and Hope Summers have a great synergy when used in constructed, and then there's the big daddy mutants like Magneto, and the Phoenix 5.

One other advantage the mutants have is access to Team bases - specifically the Strike Force Gold & Blue should provide some advantage, even with the newer changes to multiple attacks per game. 

It’s too early to count out Marvel’s Merry Mutants, so we’ll just have to take a closer look at the starter figures and the resources available to them throughout the event.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set review: Rare Veterans, Deathstroke and Bane

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set recently released and with it 21 new figures will be making their way on to maps soon.

Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? Today we finish the reviews with the last two rare, veteran figures: Deathstroke and Bane.

020 - Deathstroke

Deathstroke is the great white whale of the B:AO set, the most expensive, and arguably most deadly Assassin for hire.

At 195 points he boasts the longest dial, especially when packed with 18 defense, Invulnerability, Indomitable and lots of damage reduction, evasion and regeneration.

What all of that means is this: Deathstroke is not going to fall down after one or two hits - up close, or far away he's going to deal some serious damage before falling victim to several attacks.

Consider - he's got improved movement to get him where he needs to go, and improved targeting to flush opponents out of the Shadows. His damage value is strong - a natural 4 printed up top, along with an 11 attack, and a Wild Card TA to share AVs or borrow stealth from other friendlies.

Hit him mid dial and he can just sidestep away from adjacency and use RCE plus Energy explosion to light up the opposition. Knock him further down and he'll Flurry/Blades to take down almost any opponent.

His biggest and only drawback is his vulnerability to lines of fire - with no Stealth to protect him from Outwit, Slade is going to struggle with losing one power or another - but it likely won't matter. His dial is a crayola checkerboard that gives him something useful to do on every click.

Rating 5/5

021 - Bane

Bane is a strong presence in B:AO, but probably not the strongest, which may disappoint his fans. Still, the luchador brings a little bit of all of his versions to date and wraps it up in one affordable package.

Bane starts with strong defenses from range and close combat attacks with Stealth providing some line of fire denial, and Combat Reflexes giving him a boost. Really, it's the front loaded Outwit and Precision strike that make the musclebound mastermind a threat.

Pushed a click in he amps up the attack and brings a little bit of range to the battle, which may surprise those that think they're safe from this 0 range beat stick, especially if he starts shooting through walls.

Rear dial he starts to hulk out as the Venom induced bane - Sidestep and CCE make for a great combo, letting him move into position before blasting an opponent for 4 damage.

2 stop clicks on his end dial mean it will take quite a few attacks to put him down, and that's just when he pumps up on roid rage - modifying attack and damage for a fatal killing blow.

Thanks to his low cost, dial length, combat values and Indomitable defenses, Bane remains a worthy adversary of the bat, and any other foes that dare to cross his tracks in the streets of Gotham.

Rating 5/5

Monday, November 25, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix Set Review: Rare Experienced Villains

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set just released and with it 21 new figures will be making their way on to maps soon.

Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? Today we start the rare reviews with 3 of the Experienced ranked Batman villains:

017 - Firefly

Firefly's second appearance in HeroClix is not a disappointment. As one of the few flying villains in Batman's Rogues gallery his ability to carry allies makes him a phenomenal investment (especially when used with Black Mask's special movement power).

Firefly scorches the battlefield with Improved targeting, and makes for a handy Stealth buster allowing his allies to draw lines of fire to targets he has already hit.

Add in Enhancement to boost damage values of allies, and the av sharing Batman Enemy TA, and you have a nice mini-tentpole to build around that will find a home on many Bat-Enemy teams.

A few other Ranged Combat oriented powers (RCE/EE/ESD) make him a standard hang back and shoot villain, and the Assassin trait gives him a little more teeth on the field, or at least gives an opponent some added worry.

He's not the toughest Bat-Villain, but has so much synergy that you'd be remiss no to field him on a ranged oriented Bat-Villain team.

Rating 4/5

018 - Shiva

Shiva the Destroyer earns her name with a plethora of destructive powers, from Precision Strike to Charge, and Exploit Weakness. Leadership feels a little out of place, but is nonetheless welcome.

A strong close combat oriented defense backed by Stealth makes her a hard target for anyone that can't see her to take down, and Indomitable will let her take out just about any figure in the set after 2 strikes. Really, for 90 points this figure is an under costed giant slayer, and a steal of a deal.

if there was only one figure that you MUST own from B:AO, it is Shiva, goddess of war, harbinger of death and destruction.

Rating 5/5

019 Killer Croc

Killer Croc has had a lot of representation in HeroClix lately, from the NML vanilla suited mob boss, to the GC Strategy game, to the SoG "Society" cellar dweller. It's nice then, that the B:AO version does not disappoint.

What sets Croc over the top is his movement trait - Sidestep and Charge when occupying water terrain is too good of a combo and gives him a huge swing when waterlogged - free moving two squares and then Charging 5, or Charging in, then breaking away to sidestep into stealth.

It's unfortunate that there's no Stealthy water terrain, which means once he's in the drink, he's easy to spot. It's also good then that his scales are thick. Invulnerability, followed by Invincibility only give way to regen, which will put him back on top.

He's no slouch of an attacker either, with B/C/F and CCE to supplement his damage he should easily be able to earn his Assassin bonus. The only real detractor is his need for water terrain to be uber-effective. Without it he drops one on the ratings scale.

Rating 3/5

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set review: Uncommon Villains

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set just released and with it 21 new figures will be making their way on to maps soon.

Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? Today we finish the uncommon reviews with two of Batman's most famous villains:

012 - E. Nigma

Depicted in the days before he was the Riddler, Mr. E here weighs in at a hefty, and fragile 90 points. With only Mastermind to keep him safe, Nigma will need to surround himself with more than just mystery to stay out of harm's way.

Stealth makes him a better foil, especially as he'll be Outwitting and Probability Controling at range. Precision Strike somewhat makes up for lack of raw power, but his real value is in all the Support he brings to a team, countering powers, forcing rerolls, and potentially Perplexing opponents down.

Overall, it feels like a little too much investment for the payoff (about 20 points too expensive). Outwit is great if he can draw a line of fire, but his dial is so soft and shallow, and there's enough figures in the set with Precision Strike to make Mastermind a pointless defense.

If you absolutely MUST have those damage powers, you can pick this poindexter, but just remember - you're going to need a better attacker to front the team, someone fast Eddie can support - and you're going to need some fodder to take the dive when Nigma gets into combat. At the end, that doesn't leave a lot of room to fill out a team.

Rating: 3/5

013 - The Penguin

Where Eddie felt like a little too much of a stuffed shirt, Oswald fills out the tuxedo nicely, coming in at almost 80 points. He doesn't offer all the support powers that Nigma provides, but the ability to sit back in the shadows and take a power Action to use Outwit is an extremely useful ability, akin to JL 52's Oracle.

He's kind of a one trick pony in that regard - hit once he's moved on to a sharp umbrella and Perplex, with a little Toughness to guarantee he can't be Poisoned to death. Neither he nor Eddie do well in a fight, but he's no slouch either. I'd take a modified B/C/F attack roll over Riddler's Incap any day.

Neither one of these Gotham crime lords is a must play - but both bring something to the table. If anyone is a must own, it's the Penguin, but only for his Oracle like ability to grant Outwit to allies.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, November 18, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set review: Uncommon Allies

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set just released and with it 21 new figures will be making their way on to maps soon.

Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? Today we continue the uncommon reviews with Batman's Allies:

010 - Barbara Gordon

From her debut in the DC HeroClix Unleashed expansion to the most recent DC10th anniversary and Batman sets Barbara Gordon has had a wonderful tradition of useful representation in HeroClix, which is partly why it's sad to see this figure belly flop so hard on the Gotham sidewalk.

At 55 points and 4 clicks of life Barbara lacks any kind of structured defense to keep her from being a one hit victim. Opening with Leap Climb and Combat Reflexes, Barbara needs to skirt the edge of battle using her 6 range Perplex and Outwit on those foes she can manage to draw a line of fire to.

She's an easy target, and one opponents will want to prioritize due to the Outwit/Perplex combo, which means she's probably not going to last long on the battlefield.

One love tap and she drops most of her support prowess, picking up Willpower and Incap. If she can manage to KO an opposing thug (and that's really who she should be prioritizing her attacks on) she can become a bit of a power player - retreating back and using her Perplex safely away from the fisticuffs and firefights.

It's hard to pan a figure that has so much potential for support powers - but the Perplex and Outwit is only as good as her ability to protect herself - she'll likely get one or two uses before falling beneath stronger attackers.

Rating: 2/5

011 Jim Gordon

Finally another character with the Capture ability. Not only can Jim put the cuffs on opponents, but if he manages to successfully throw a goon in the pokey, he can grant others the Capture ability as well. Capture could be huge in dealing with some of the Elephants in the set - Bane, Deadshot, the Joker...

For 100 points he's a rock solid support piece - the PD TA helping allies make ranged attacks land, Leadership, Perplex, Outwit - Jimmy's a one stop cop shop.

Toughness will keep him in the game for a bit, and Incap gives him some options, but he's probably better just dealing 3 damage outright. Rear dial Sidestep is a neat bonus - too bad he can't use it himself, and too bad it's not top dial where it would be infinitely more useful.

Overall this is a figure that's well balanced, and brings enough to the table for the cost that he doesn't feel too expensive for the investment.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set review: Uncommon Assassins

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set just released and with it 21 will be making their way on to maps soon.

Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? Today we kick off the uncommon reviews starting with the Hired Assassins, and the person doing the hiring:

014: Copperhead

This is not the crazy, Serpentor styled Copperhead we've all come to know from years of DCU continuity, but rather an updated female version redesigned for the nu-52 era. Like her or loath her, she doesn't disappoint.

At 115 points this femme fatale has 7 clicks of life, and each click has Poison, helping her deal damage even when she's not attacking.

On top of Poison is the Hallucinogenic sp which lets her take an action to deal 1 penetrating damage to an adjacent opponent - no dice roll necessary. This means she can deal 2 clicks of damage per round without having to worry about Super Senses or Shape Change evading the attack roll.

As a Hired assassin she gets the extra 50 points for KOing a chosen opponent, and Charge, combined with Improved movement is going to help her position, while Exploit will make the damage stick.

Rear dial she picks up the Shape Change/Super Senses combo that with Sidestep and Poison makes her a superior tie up and harassment piece.

With no range, no willpower and no stealth, she's going to need help closing the gap between her and her opponent, but the Calculator TA gives her some options. She pushes the edge of expense and affordability but with the right backup won't have any problem earning her keep on a team.

Rating 3/5

015: Black Mask

I've already mentioned my excitement about this piece in a post dedicated to the character, and in a sealed environment he certainly loses no luster.

At 100 points he's cheap enough to fit on any 300 point team with lots of backup and brings the most amazing mobility power to Assassins, Arkham Inmates and the Gotham Underworld to the point where he is really a must own piece if you play any of those teams regularly.

The ability to give friendly figures move actions to get into (or out of) position for a strike will be a crucial game maker for a number of battles. For instance - with no move and attack Deadshot just begs to walk up and put the Bat in his scope and then fire away with his 12 attack for 5 damage.

It's not just the mobility power though - Outwit, Perplex, and a bag of other tricks make this kingpin of crime a threat on the map.

Rating: 4/5

016: Deadshot

Deadshot is going to be *the* figure to take down in B:AO, thanks to his heavy hitting status. He's a ranged monster with the Sharpshooter ability preventing him from losing RCE when tied up, and the improved targeting to ignore hindering terrain is going to make him Batman's #1 priority.

With nowhere to hide, opponents will have to bum rush this assassin who, with a self probbed 12 attack and 5 damage will have no problem KO'ng any figure in the set in two rounds.

His two flaws are his lack of upfront mobility - meaning he'll take some time to get into position, and his relatively soft defenses. 17 Toughness is respectable, but just about anyone can hit those numbers with ease in the set.

Played right, he's going to deal a lot of collateral damage if not win games outright, assuming his 150 points of back up are used wisely.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set Review: Common Villains

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set releases this week, and with it we get a flood of figures (21 to be precise) that will be making their way on to maps soon. Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? The common reviews conclude today with the common Villains:

003 - Electrocutioner

As the only named figure in the set without a HeroClix counterpart, the Electrocutioner is also the lowest costed Batman Enemy with the Hired Assassin trait. His low cost works in his favor as it allows for bigger, badder threats to fit on his team and draw fire away from him.

The Electrocutioner makes for a strong tie-up piece - pushed a click into his dial he picks up Plasticity, which will work wonders on top of his Poison. Special power Quake is going to flummox opposing characters as well, especially when he adds action tokens to damage dealt.

He's not particularly strong or skilled - with no range and no Stealth he'll need to approach the fight cautiously. Toughness will keep him from getting one shot, and Force Blast could be fun in knocking figures off rooftops.

To get the most milage, Electrocutioner will need to base an opponent along with one or two other threats, forcing the opponent to choose who to fight. Positioned well, and with a little strategy he may earn his Hired Assassin bonus, but otherwise should serve well as a tie-up and annoyance, buying time for the rest of his teammates to put up the smack down.

Rating: 3/5

009 - The Joker

Last but not least of the commons is another version of the clown prince of crime - weighing in at 140 points to match the cost of this set's Batman.

The Joker arrives with a lot of Poison power - traited poison, the ability to Poison through Smoke Cloud, and the ability to deal Penetrating damage via Pooison if he previously KO's a character makes him a large threat on the board - as he should be at almost half the cost of a 300 point team.

What set's the Joker apart is a combination of powers and combat values. 17 Combat reflexes for instance are strong, but stronger backed with Stealth, and then superior when some Shape Change is added on.

Push once to take a dip in defenses, but pick up Outwit in trade. Pushed again, and he picks up the very annoying Sidestep which, when paired with his Improved Movement will let him position extremely well to Poison or blast away with Penetrating damage (11 attack, no less), all on an 18 defense.

Late dial he can use "I'll Test Your Code" to great effect, singling out an opponent, and then sidestepping out of sight, or using henchman to block a path between him and his target. Overall this is not just a strong piece for the set, but one of the best jokers to be released in a long time.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set review: Common thugs

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set releases this week, and with it we get a flood of figures (21 to be precise) that will be making their way on to maps soon.

Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? The reviews continue today with the common Thugs (note, feel free to add +1 to the rating if their boss is in play):

002 Black Mask Thug

All the Thugs in B:AO have a Minion/Master power that keys off their namesake "boss." For the Black Masks, they get the added defense of Shape Change when their crime lord is near, an ability they really need to keep from being mere cannon fodder.

As range oriented minions The Mask's make for very ineffective tie up pieces - they'll want to stay back and use the Running Shot, Energy Explosion, Ranged Combat Expert or Enhancement powers on their dial. Once they're in close quarters these False Facers will take a beating - a bare 16 defense will get pounded through quickly.

The other strike against them is no ranged attack protection. ES/D would have been welcome, if Stealth wasn't an option - but as these guys excel at range, they just don't hold up under the same amount of gunfire. They may be good in a pinch, useful in chaining the Bat Enemy TA and they are a smidge better with Black Mask in play, but there's better investments in the set for about the same cost, as we shall see.

Rating: 2/5

004 The Penguin Thug

The Penguin's flock of henchmen don't fare much better than the False Facers - their printed defense is a little higher, and Incap is useful at both range and close combat, but they really need their Boss on the board to make the most of their supporting status.

Damage values are just pitiful, so they'll probably be using Incap to deny opponents actions and force penetrating damage on thick skinned opponents. Overall, this bird is like its namesake in that it just won't fly.

Rating: 1/5

006 The Joker Thug

Say what you want about the Joker - he knows how to effectively employ cannon fodder. As a stealthy 40 point attacker this goon makes for good mobile blocking terrain, and deploys fast with Willpower.

Players may still want to push to click two and pick up the Blades (and if you can take a free push with the Poison power, even better!). An 8 attack isn't intimidating, but he should have someone else to borrow an AV from - and 5 or 6 damage from a good blades roll more than earns his low investment.

This figure is just about everything you want in a Hired Thug - a tie up piece with teeth that can't afford to be ignored.

Rating: 3/5

004 Bane Thug

Bane Thug is probably the best generic in B:AO, if not one of the best Batman Generic Villains of all time thanks to the Empower on clicks 1 & 2, and the front loaded Charge.

In a swarm these figures will be extremely deadly, especially because they'll be sharing attack values. Individually they are difficult to take out as the only henchmen with Toughness, which fades into Combat Reflexes.

Mid dial Close Combat Expert and rear dial Sidestep keep these figures an active threat and annoyance on any click, and the Minion/Master power is just pure gravy on top of the turkey and mashed potatoes. Willpower to keep moving and fighting is going to make this Thug a very annoying cheap attack piece.

Given the Empower, the chained attack values of the Batman Enemy TA, this is one figure that probably belongs in your collection in multiples of 2 - not just a must play, but a must own for all those Batman Enemy swarm teams. 

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix Review part 1: The common heroes

The Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix set releases this week, and with it we get a flood of figures (21 to be precise) that will be making their way on to maps soon. Who do you need to own? Who should you fear on the map? Let's take a look and see if we can't pick the wheat from the chaff starting today with the common Heroes

001 - Batman

The titular hero starts off the set and as a common should be easily available. He's also the only version of Batman in the set (hopes for alternate costumes like Gotham by Gaslight have been shot down!). With about 40 versions of Batman in Modern Age, how does the video-Bats compare?

He's 140 points and 7 clicks deep - an expensive investment for a shallow dial. Indomitable gives him a dial full of Willpower to keep attacking, which he'll need at nearly 1/2 of a 300 point build. 

He opens with Running Shot and with 11 attack and 7 range (2 targets) he marks himself as a ranged attacker. 3 damage and some Perplex will help him dish out a lot of damage. His biggest foil in the set will be opposing character's Stealth.

Traited with Incap, that becomes a "Stunning Blow" if he KO's an opponent, Batman can hold his own in the offense department, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. Strait up Toughness and a 17 defense is easy pickings in this set, especially because he can't rely on Stealth from his TA to back him up as many opponents are packing the new IMPROVED TARGETING: IGNORES HINDERING TERRAIN ON LINES OF FIRE.

Remote Batarang will help him shoot around corners, so Blocking terrain and walls are probably going to be more important for Bruce to hide behind than Shrubs and Hot Dog Carts. One hit in, and his effectiveness drops immensely - there's a big difference between a natural 3 damage and a printed 2. Precision Strike helps mitigate the damage dealing (especially with 2 targets).

His Explosive Gel should be a fun visual - blow a hole in a wall and then Charge in (ignoring hindering with improved movement). Still, once he's mid dial he's really got to be careful, because he looses almost all of his tricks on his last two clicks, finally picking up Outwit to help him handle the toughest of opponents.

Overall, this batman feels very much average because he's so easy to tap off the top dial. If that Toughness were packaged with Super Senses or Combat Reflexes it might be another story. 

I also can't help but feel there was a missed opportunity to put a spin on the ASSASSIN trait that proliferates the set. For instance: if Batman were to KO an opponent that had him marked as their Assassin trait target, Batman should then get to heal a click or two (perhaps depending on the number of tokens on him). That little bit might make up for a glass jaw, inflated cost, and add a bit of "video game mechanics" into the mix. 

Rating: 3/5

005 Robin

If Batman was considered somewhat Fragile, Robin is doubly so - opening with a 17 defense and Willpower, the Boy Wonder will want to avoid close combat and stick strictly to a run and gun game.

It's a good thing he comes equipped for airborne attacks - 6 range and 2 targets with a variety of supporting powers (Incap, EE) should help. Improved Movement, Sidestep, and a 10 speed will help the Flying Grayson get into position, but doesn't necessarily compliment this set's Batman.

Consider - Batman is already a ranged oriented attacker, so what he needs to compliment him is a strong tie up piece that can also flush opponents out of Stealth. Robin doesn't become a tie up until click 3 where he picks up Combat Reflexes and that printed 17 defense, and he's not going to be Stealth Busting without some kind of knockback power. 

He can bounce all over the board - using improved movement and sidestep to maneuver effectively, but is a more of a clay pigeon than a bird of prey. 

Rating: 2/5  

007 Anarky

Okay, okay - Anarky is neither Hero nor villain, yet for this set loaded with antagonists he better fills out the hero quotient. In his second clix appearance, Anarky is very short lived and has little in the way of defenses to keep him safe, but can prove to be an effective foil and annoyance.

With no Stealth to protect him from ranged attacks, and a small range of 4 (5 if he self Perplexes), this Guy Fawkes wannabe is going to need to get up close and personal to any battle. It's a good thing then, that he can lob firebombs over the edge of buildings - and the Improved Targeting should help flush characters out of hiding. 

A 10 attack and printed 3 damage are impressive, even if he only has 5 clicks. He's not very pushable, and unfortunately with Precision Strike in play Super Senses just isn't the bastion of chance and foil it once was, so he may not be an effective tie up piece.

The key to using him effectively will be to keep him on the edge of the battle where he can be an annoyance to your opponent distracting him from attacking your main forces. 

Once he gets based and hit, he picks up Leap Climb, so hop out of the way to a position where his Probability Control will come in the most useful. Not a winning piece on his own, he certainly makes almost any team better just from support powers alone.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Invincible Iron Man HeroClix Dial Review: Melter

As one of Iron Man's original foes (first appearing in Tales of Suspense #47, 1963) Melter finally makes his HeroClix debut in the upcoming Invincible Iron Man expansion, helping to round out the debut roster of the first Masters of Evil (along with his pals Baron Zemo, Radioactive Man and the Black Knight).

After 11 years and 20 expansions, was it worth the wait? I'd say yes - if only for the striped pajamas.

He'll stop the world to melt with you.

Seriously, the costume is corny - with it's hokey stripes and giant M on the chest we should thank the Scourge of the Underworld for dispatching this fashion menace in the 1980's.

Even though his costume is a bit of a joke, foes of this Master of Evil should take him as a serious threat even if his bag of tricks was to make Tony Stark naked.

You read that right. This guy used his super ability to melt off Tony's armor. Witness:

We're talking about a guy that goes a step farther than pulling a hero's pants down in combat by literally EVAPORATING a hero's costume. How can you not like that visual ?

(Nelson Laugh)

Why did he want to melt people's clothing? Maybe he had a flesh fetish, but it's probably more to distract people away from his own hideous outfit.

Jokes aside players would be foolish to think this Iron Man villain is a non-threat.  Using the new improved targeting: ignores and destroys blocking terrain on lines of fire - it's going to be hard to hide from his opening Penetrating Blast, and he even gets a bit of a boost in range thanks to Sidestep.

With the Masters of Evil TA he can keep pressing the attack if need be, and he comes equipped with an ATA: Hammer Industries letting him use Perplex for a mere 5 point increase in cost.

Melter also makes use of a special power to give him comic accurate flavor. Molten Armor gives this former minion of the Mandarin the ability to literally Outwit the pants on someone.

Be sure to say this when playing the Melter in public: I Outwit your pants. Then feel free to point the person who doubts your ability to outwit pants in the direction of the evidence pictured in this installment of the Mousetrap.

Enough with the costume...
 what's his dial like? 

While his combat values may not reek of the recent power creep that's plagued the game, his numbers remain steady and efficient down the dial, progressing slowly into a rear dial burst of power with Pulse Wave to go out with a bang, and maybe, just maybe, take everyone's pants with him.