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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

HeroClix Dial Review - the Batman: Arkham Origins Video Game Set's Black Mask Thug

The last post explored the Batman: Arkham Origin's Biggest Villain: Black Mask as portrayed in the upcoming HeroClix video game adaptation.

Today we look at two figures to serve the bidding of Roman Sionas, a.k.a. Black Mask.

First up is the Black Mask Thug - a no name goon that has allied himself to the Gotham Underworld's current big bad boss and is a part of the False Facer gang. 

As a 40 point generic, he doesn't offer much in the way of combat values. Sure he can hit and punch with the best of the common criminals, but he's still climbing the evil corporate ladder as evidenced by his 9's on attack and 16's in defense.

The real selling point for these goons is the chain of command offered by the Batman Enemy TA - specifically, that ability to borrow an adjacent friendly figure's attack value. Who cares if his attack is a 9 or a 3? With the Bat-Enemy TA, he can have a 10, 11 or 12 so long as the positioning allows it.

With Black Mask's ability to move his men around the battlefield via the Vast Fortune SP, the Black Mask Thugs should always be in a good position to take advantage of the TA. 

Add running shot to the mix, and you have a highly mobile ranged attack squad.

Further down the dial the BMT picks up Enhancement in one of the best named special powers yet... I Read.

Don't stereotype this mook - he's a thinker! He's got his eye on the stock market. He knows a thing or two about investing. Enhancement is a great boost to a dial that already benefits from adjacent friends.

His defense is a little soft - a bare 16 is only backed up with Shape Change if his boss is nearby. Still, Shape Change should serve to frustrate more than a few opponents that end up wasting an action trying to attack him.

With Ranged Combat Expert and Energy Explosion down the dial this figure is definitely range combat focused, which is why it's nice to break out the older False Facers from Streets of Gotham.

The False Facers are a 32 point generic Henchmen with a variety of options and team abilities tehy can put into play.

With 2 dials to choose from players can opt to build an aggressive team full of figures that serve to lock down (Poison and Plasticity) opponents while setting up a firing squad of hit men.

Given the cost of these generics, many can fit on a team and remain versatile thanks to dual team abilities - the Bat-Enemy to chain attack values, and the Gotham Underworld to help carry and position.

Chuck in the 40 point Henchman from either Arkham Asylum or the recent Batman full sized booster expansion, and you've got a very angry mob of mooks ready to take on the Bat.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Batman Arkham Origins HeroClix Preview's it's Biggest Villain: The Black Mask

The new Batman: Arkham Origins Video Game's Biggest Villain has been revealed for the upcoming HeroClix set: Black Mask.

Roman Sionas, AKA the Black Mask may not be the toughest foe of the Dark Knight, as revealed by his need to hire Assassins to do his bidding, but he's no slouch either.

Hiding behind a conga line of False Facer Henchman and a pile of money, Black Mask raises the bar for the villain who had a lukewarm reception by players as a Rare in 2012's Streets of Gotham set with a short, expensive dial that did not return much efficiency for the cost.

This new version brings better attack values to the table, which he can chain with the Batman Enemy team ability.

He's got some standard Big Boss powers including Mastermind, Outwit, and Perplex, but it's his special powers that will make this figure a monster on the battle map.

Specifically, the VAST FORTUNE (special attack power) provides the mobile challenged Gotham City Underworld keyword a little positioning power. The power reads:

Give Black Mask a Power Action and all adjacent friendly characters that have the Assassin Keyword or share a keyword with him may immediately be given a move action as a free action.

Now, a swarm of Underworld TA figures surrounding the 'Mask will be able to move (and possibly carry others) into position and then attack.

This is great for figures that don't have a move and attack ability like Charge or Running Shot, and even better for the B dial of the False Facers from SoG who have Plasticity and Poison when Black Mask is present.

The villain's dial starts out with a strong defense - hiding in the Shadows he'll be hard to target with ranged attacks, and should he be hit, he'll pick up Mastermind to help drive incoming damage onto loyal Henchmen.

He picks up a little offensive power mid dial where his damage spikes to 3 (4 with Perplex) and he grabs a Tommy Gun to unleash some ranged combat power with Energy Explosion.

Late dial he picks up a few of my favorite powers to see: opponents knocking him onto Willpower may be in for a surprise, especially if they though Black Mask was locked down with a token.

Poison will also help soften a few foes that get too close.

For 100 points he's easy to fit on a 300 to 400 point team and enough of a threat without being the biggest target for an opponent's attacks. Plug him, some Assassins like David Cain and Lady Shiva, and a swarm of generic Henchmen onto a team and overrun the opposition.

The Black Mask can then marshall his forces from the rear, frustrating opponents with Outwit and Perplex, while providing enhancement to his minions - either the 32 point false Facers from SoG or the new Black Mask Thugs from the HeroClix Batman Arkham Origins video game adaptation (which we'll look at next!).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dial Review: Death's Head

As Winner of the 2012 Marvel Fan Vote Death's Head finally makes his way into 'Clix form with a strong dial that is extremely dangerous to opponents.

A bulky robotic assassin, DH starts out his top dial with a few standard powers and no trait.

While he has no move and attack powers, Indomitable, and a 10 speed Phasing/Teleport help him line up a shot with a promising 4 clicks of Penetrating damage.

He's no sharpshooter, but Improved Targeting: Ignores Characters, will help him home in on his prey and with an 8 range leave them little ground to run to.

Should they fight back, he can take the punishment - opening with an 18 Invulnerability, that quickly fades to 3 clicks of Invincible, each with a 17 defense, before returning to the Invulnerability.

He never gets easier to hurt either - essentially having Invulnerability on his last two clicks, but pairing it with Regeneration, Death's Head is a hard target in every sense.

Opponents will want to spread out on the battlefield as soon as his "Side Job" special attack power is revealed. This will allow him to deal extra damage without having to target or roll dice, every time he makes a successful attack.

If that damage is dealt, then he may take an additional action as a free action, including making an attack on a figure he hasn't already attacked this turn. With Indomitable, 'Head will be making a lot of attacks - up to 4 in 2 turns.

As his numbers start to drop off rear dial he picks up the option to use RCE or CCE, effectively boosting his attack and damage stats as needed.

If it weren't enough that his speed never drops below 9, he adds Sidestep to the mix for the second half of his dial, making him a sort of Terminator - a non stop engine of death and destruction that won't rest until Sarah Conner, or anyone else is in his sights is KO'd.

At 177 points DH needs all of these bells and whistles as he's a tentpole and will be doing most of the heavy lifting on his team.

With two types of Penetrating Damage, and the ability to constantly dish out 4 to 5 damage per attack, opponents will fall fast.

His biggest drawbacks will be his inability to move and attack top dial, giving opponents some time to avoid a nasty first strike. Likewise, he can't shoot what he can't see - so Stealth is going to frustrate him when trying to draw a line of Fire.

Opponents will want to swarm him to beat through those defenses, and therein lies the problem. The more opponents he has close by, the more damage he can dish out with Side Job.

He's a tricky opponent to play or play against, but one that can definitely earn his keep.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dial Review: Iron Monger

Iron Monger Returns! 

But is he a dud like last time? Let's examine.

Like the set's marquee hero, Monger comes in two point values - but without the major scale up in price associated with the set's namesake. At 140 points players can opt in for a solid bruiser, while for a mere 25 points more they can pick up two powerful clicks upgrading the villain to Mastermind, Stealth, and Outwit.

At first glance this dial is as deceptive as the character of Obidiah Stane -  on the surface a 10 attack is not much to brag about, until you factor in the Psychological Warfare trait which makes it easier for him to single out a target by lowering their defenses.

That 10 attack is also steady as the steel of his suit, maintaining itself for the first 6 clicks before dropping down to 9 on the last two slots. It's effectively a 12 attack, when all is said and done.

Iron Monger wants it all, 

and he's not afraid to take what's yours and make it his own. With the Corporate Takeover trait not only does he get to pick an opponents team ability to use, but makes it so the opponent cannot use that ability, making Stane a remarkable silver bullet for pesky TAs like Mystics, or Batman Ally.

Mastermind lost some luster with the addition of Precision Strike, but at least this armored executive can skulk in the shadows and force opponents to come to him.

The options with this figure are wonderful: players that don't pull good Mastermind fodder in their boosters aren't relegated to play at the starting point, and can skip those top dial slots, jumping forward to open with some Running Shot/Psychic Blast.

The biggest drawback on this figure is lack of Indomitable - Stane doesn't possess the Willpower of Tony Stark, and it hurts him in the action department, where he's probably going to have to push several times in a game to remain an effective attacker.

The Monger dial represents a slower to act brute than Stark's more mobile Iron Man, requiring him to set up the board and plan his strikes methodically if he wants to win.

For the comic accuracy crowd the piece has great flavor with the "Use Your Greatest Weaknesses Against You" giving him a bonus against Tony Stark or Iron Man.

Because he has a shorter range, I'd want to play the Stealth version of Monger first and foremost to draw my opponents in. And there's the rub - This set's Iron Man couples improved Targeting: Ignores hindering and Blocking with Precision Strike, so it's going to be hard for Obie to get the drop on Anthony.

To succeed, Iron Monger will need to get close enough to Outwit the Precision Strike and make the most of his Mastermind. Given the mobility of Iron Man, it will be just as easy for Tony to fall back and land a first strike later.

Rating the complete package - sculpt, dial, playability - this figure receives high marks. He may not be able to go toe to toe with Tony, but he is a formidable opponent capable of dominating the battlefield outside of the board room.