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Sunday, November 20, 2005

All jets ablaze!

My first ARMOR WARS experience came even before I'd gotten the plastic wrapping off my 12 booster 'brick'. Looking at the back of the boxes while sitting in the car with SuperGirlfriend, I ruefully read aloud what I thought I saw in big bold comic book letters at the top of the back of each box:

"SHUT UP, CITIZEN! The ARMOR WARS have begun!"

SuperGirlfriend did a double take, then sensibly pointed out to me that it actually said "SUIT UP", not "SHUT UP".

And here I'd been thinking Dick Cheney had had a hand in the copy writing process...

Anyway, here's what I got:

Firebrand, r - a good looking, if ultimately useless, fig at every level; naturally, I only got one, at the most useless of them all

Paladin, rr v - aggravatingly, missing out on the Experienced level, with the coveted Spider Man Ally TA

Lorelei, rr v - a nice looking fig, and another addition to the Asgardian contingent of HeroClix, and someone else to hang around with Loki and the Enchantress. Interestingly, her Vet level has both Outwit and Perplex, qualifying her to be a Brilliant Tactician, which just seems wrong... however, since her Perplex doesn't come up until her 6th and 7th slots, it's probably a waste of points to put the card on her. Naturally, her most useful overall REV is the Experienced one, where she picks up several slots of Super Strength. I didn't get any of that one.

Diamond Lil ee - another piece of fodder for my Alpha Flight team, and one I honestly couldn't care less about at any level; given the theme of this expansion, I'd have much rather seen a Box fig or even a Windshear to this one

Echo rev - one of three figs I got a full REV of, and probably the fig in the set I care the least about... well, okay, she's tied with Diamond Lil and the Sentry for that distinction

Killer Shrike r - Cheesy looking Jim Shooter creation who could see some play along with the Experienced Moon Knight for those looking for the cheapest possible Super Strength figs. Under my House Rules, he'd be a useful taxi if I hadn't enacted No Action After Taxi or Telekinesis

Thunderbird rrr - nice looking fig to add to my X-Men mob. Pretty damn useless at every level; even his Vet -- who isn't him, it's his younger brother -- doesn't get up past a 9 attack. Still, the rookie does get a few interesting clicks down at the end of this dial, when his attack is too low for them to be at all effective... had I gotten stuck with the entirely generic Experienced version with the Brotherhood TA, I'd have been very exasperated, so this is okay.

Banshee - skippin' over the ocean like a stone, i.e., not a single Lucky Charms eatin, pipe smokin', brother to Black Tom was to be found in my brick

Spymaster r e - critics have hailed Armor Wars for bringing back cheap figs to be used as fodder -- Spymaster's vet is only 29 points. I'm happy to see some of Iron Man's older, more cerebral villains given plastic incarnations, but the new game designer at WizKids seems extremely reluctant to give us anything particularly useful regardless of how many points we get charged for a fig. Spymaster's dials are all over the place, with the Rookie having the most Exploit Weakness... but late in his dial, where he's unlikely to get to use it much. One has to assume that Seth simply assumes everyone is going to trick this cheap piece out with Armor Piercing, and yes, assuming one does that, one might get in a few shots at range before Spymaster simply gets blown to pieces by whoever he's annoying. A nice looking fig, and one I may see more uses for as time goes on. The rookie gets a big boost upwards under my House Rules, since my redefinition of Combat Reflexes makes it add 2 to Defense Value against close combat attacks, which is a much handier effect than WK's version.

Ghost v - If I could only get one Ghost, it's a nice surprise that it's the really good looking transparent plastic veteran figure. However, the fig is difficult to see much use for. With a starting defensive AV of 17 and Super Senses, I suppose one can use him as a gadfly, and if you stick both Passenger and Double Time on him, you could have him carry a more useful fig around the board for a few turns until you burn him out... but once again, I tend to curl my upper lip at any fig whose VETERAN level doesn't get at least a 10 attack, and Ghost's vet has an 8. Hard to see him as anything but handsome rubbish.

Magma rr - yet more X-Mob fodder. Yay.

Aurora rrr - a necessary figure to fill out my Alpha Flight roster. The most interesting version of Aurora is the Vet, with strange mystic powers, but she doesn't have the Avengers/Alpha Flight TA. The Experienced would be a bit nicer than the rookie, as she has a click of Running Shot, which is much more useful in my game than in WK's, a higher AV, and a range strike. Still, I'm happy to have the fig at all, and it's not like I'm ever likely to actually PLAY Alpha Flight...

Thunderball rr - getting only the rookie version of this fig is one of the bigger disappointments to this brick for me.

Cannonball - zip. I don't care.

Wendigo - zip. I'd like to have one to put up against a Hulk fig somewhere on my display shelves, but I doubt I'd ever use it.

Shaman ee - gorgeous fig to add to my Alpha Flight team. Also a very useful support fig, adding Barrier, Perplex, Incapacitate, Psychic Blast, and Support to any team you want to slot him into. I got lucky here, as the Experienced version is arguably the best -- with Perplex front loaded, you get the most out of a Brilliant Tactician card, and with Psionic Blast up front as well, you can get right to work knocking the stuffing out of the other guy's powerhouse if you need to. Combine this fig's Avengers TA on every rev with a Thunderbolts Feat Card allowing a choice of any TA in the game and you can get one very very useful piece indeed. While I doubt I'd ever actually field an Alpha Flight team, putting together a group of sorcerers as a theme team is looking more and more likely.

Quicksilver v - well, if I could only get one, at least I got the best one. I am going to need an Experienced version, though, to put into my Avengers roster. Still, this is one of the coveted pieces from this set; I'm happy I got one.

Psylocke - clean whiff. I don't care. The earlier version is better anyway.

Sunfire - r ee v I wanted an experienced for my X-Mob and didn't much care about the others, so naturally I pulled a full REV and then some. Yay. He's pretty much useless at all levels, from what I can see, unless you're looking for a cheap distraction. Under my House Rules, the Vet's Leadership could make him more formidable, I suppose.

Dazzler - reev - another complete REV of a character I couldn't care less about, although I'm with Mike Norton here... WK has done the near impossible by making me yearn for a Classic Dazzler fig, now that they have given us the Ultimates version. Which also makes me need to state this, now, for the record: if WK ever puts any of the Ultimates Defenders into plastic form, someone is going to die. Slowly. Having said all that, this figure has a potentially useful dial, especially under my House Rules, where Pulse Wave and Ranged Combat Expert won't be mutually exclusive, and Pulse Wave is nearly an auto-hit on everyone within range. The rookie version, with two clicks of Pulse Wave up front augmented by two clicks of Running Shot, could be a terror under my rules.

Executioner v - well, once again, if I could only get one, at least I got the vet. A long awaited and necessary fig to add to my Masters of Evil roster, and another Asgardian. I don't know how useful he'll be -- he and the Enchantress may be neck and neck for 'figs most screwed by bad dials in HeroClix' -- but I'll certainly have to play him, Zemo, the Enchantress, and Wonder Man at some point. I should try to tweak the Masters of Evil TA a little bit before I do, though...

War Machine - whole lotta nothin'. Don't much care. If Tony Stark really really needs a helicopter pilot, he can always hire that guy from Suicide Squad.

Crimson Dynamo r - the Critical Mass version is the Crimson Dynamo I like, anyway.

Titanium Man r v - goofy looking sculpt, and not the Titanium Man we all wanted to see, certainly. Still, a bizarrely useful dial, maybe.

Iron Man vv - Tony Stark makes you feel like he's a cool exec with a heart of steel -- he's Iron Man, all jets ablaze! As he fights and fights with repulsor rays! I still say this dial is a terrible disappointment; we didn't want something less complex than the Critical Mass fig, we just wanted better stats and a few clicks of Impervious. This dial strikes me as something you'd set up for a Guardsman suit. Still, the sculpt looks nice.

Captain America - nothin'. This is a bummer.

Ultron - nothin'. I only want the Vet version, but I want him BAD, and I'm sure he's going to be as hard to get as the Vet Dr. Strange and Power Man from Fantastic Forces were.

As to Uniques, I got three -- Golden Armor Iron Man, Iron Monger, and Shathra. The first is cool, the second is pointless to me, the third I don't know anything about (but she looks really cool, too). The Uniques I realy want from this set are, in order, CRYSTAL, Jocasta, and the House of M Spider-Man fig. I wouldn't sneer at a Magneto, either.

I may or may not send away for the grey armor Iron Man fig. I mean, suddenly I have a great many Iron Man figs, I'm not sure I need that one. Maybe if WizKids comes out with some generic Commie Gook soldier figs for me to put him up against...

In cards, I got no pogs (yay!) and only one Battlefield Condition (Assembled, which I like). The rest were Feat Cards as follows:

Armor Piercing, 2 -- always good to have more of these. The SuperKids and I tended to fight over the 2 I had previous to this, especially when we all have superspeedsters in our teams.

Life Model Decoy, 2 - a good card, and one I'm looking forward to slapping on Iron Man or Nick Fury in some game soon.

Alpha Flight, 1 - WK really bit the bag with this card. We can already use Thunderbolts to give Alpha Flight members any TA in the game, so this card, which allows us to give them one specific TA already available through that method, is just idiotic. If WK had come up with some cool new TA for Alpha Flight, this could have been major. As it is, it's just a waste of cardboard.

Homing Device, 1 -- a useful card under WizKids rules, where it will mostly allow Chargers and HSSers to run up to Stealthed characters and whack them one, making them vulnerable to ranged attacks for the rest of the turn. It will have more limited utility under my House Rules, where Stealth is more effective. However, Super Senses can see Stealthed characters, so this will still have some effectiveness if deployed right.

Saboteur, 1 -- an anti Siphon Power card. I guess.

Protected, 1 -- a useful 8 point one off feat that will help to counter teams that rely on one big hit to take someone out.

Nanobots, 1 - probably the most useful new Feat Card in the game. Gimme a dozen.

Repulsor Shield, 1 - now, for an additional 50 points, you can make your favorite figure immune to Outwit, Exploit Weakness, Force Blast, Psychic Blast, and Ranged Combat Expert. This will make Armor Piercing even more vital in this game, especially under my House Rules, where Invulnerability and Impervious protect 3 and 4 instead of 2. If you want your Ares or your Count Nefaria to be as tough as they actually are in the comics, WizKids has now given you the tools.

Extended Range, 1 - under WK's rules, a way to trade off damage for range. Under my new Pulse Wave definition, a way to make a Pulse Wave attack into a mass Incapacitate that will nearly always hit, by dropping your Pulse Wave damage to 0... which is exactly the way most radiating multitarget range attacks work, in comics. Yet more proof that WizKids badly needs to hire me as a game designer, or at least, steal my House Rules.

Overall, a good brick. 3 Uniques seems slightly over the odds, given that a brick is 1/4 of a case. I still want several figs, and I think the best way to get them will be to wait until after Christmas and look for a cheap case of Armor Wars on Ebay, which will leave me a lot of extras to give to the SuperKids, as well.


At 1:33 PM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

A good tour through the brick, though yours is one of those with more "clumping." While I did get one (E Magma) as a quartet, I seemed to get a more spread out assortment.

Hopefully by Collateral Damage they'll have exercised as much control at the brick level as they did at the case. If the bricks even swung just a little in terms of uniques - 3 to 5, centering on the average of 4 they'd ideally have now that 16 are in a case - that would take care of most of it. We're all still factoring in the relative rarity of upper level E & V (and even R) pieces since they only appear in that top spot in the booster, and twice as many of those spots in a case are taken up with uniques now.

I didn't do a piece by piece breakdown this time since I'd spent too much time on them in the run-up, though my not doing it made my piece seem like too much of a checklist...

Several of the pieces (Ghost & Spymaster) really need a cluttered, preferably indoor map to work well, which is why the set-themed map works so well. A 6 Range is pretty much all one needs in that Serpentine layout. They're not intended to bring down someone like Iron Man solo, but then again they're each a fraction of his cost even if 10 points are added for Armor Piercing. Each of those two are difficult for their most likely themed foes (Iron Man in particular) to hit initially, between Spymaster's Stealth and Ghost's Defense and Super Senses. They will need that Armor Piercing if they want a shot at damaging I.M. shy of a Critical Hit. Spymaster's the bigger danger, of course. Ghost's more of a harasser and may be more useful as a target, soaking up an opponent's actions and hopefully doing so without taking a hit between his 17 Defense and the Super Senses. His combination of Movement, Range and AV makes him someone who especially needs that indoor environment. He's going to be ignored most of the time, I suspect, as he's not a big threat, will take some time getting somewhere, and it would be irritating to take a shot at a low level threat like that and miss due to the Defense or SS.

Firebrand's almost a basket case,though, between being such a target and his AVs that hang around 7 too much of the time. Maybe having him carry Ghost around as a shield is the answer? Firebrand's not going to see much play outside of sealed matches or theme play. Since he has RCE up front, though, and given his AVs, I suspect most of the time he appears in a constructed match he'll be In Contact With I don't know who. Even the rookie, if he stops over hindering and uses ICWO to to bump his Defense up by 1 he becomes a 17 from range. Yeah, there would be much better places to spend 39 points. It's going to be a matter of how much somone wants to play that character.

I'm surprised to see the general dismissal of Sunfire, though. The only bad item on any of them IMHO is that first defensive click on the Experienced, with no color and a 16 Defense. I'm presuming this is meant to demonstrate his chip-on-the-shoulder arrogance at that stage causing him to lead with his chin and risk getting tagged. Otherwise, he's a flying damage-dealer who should be tough to hit from range. He's no Superman, but he's not supposed to be. I don't know, I could see working even the 40 pt rookie with his lack of Running Shot and TA on a team, as he has that 16 with ES/D combination, a 9 AV and RCE on his first two clicks. The 6 Range might dissuade me, but he can bring some nice items to the game for 40 points. The 75 point vet is a nice combination, though I'd probably put Armor Piercing on him -- but I want to put A.P. on everyone! ;)

I'm happy to report that even at the better venue level (though, of course, it's not to be counted on and isn't something Official) judges aren't requiring a player to bring more than one of a given card. So long as the points are accounted for, one could put Armor Piercing on every member of the team and only bring one card. So I've gotten into the mindset of wanting to get enough of any useful card to cover the max number of players I might have in to play (presumably as new players who don't have any clix of their own) on some theoretical day. At the moment it's mostly just Nick and I drawing from the same pool.

"Shut up, Citizen!" leapt at us when the ad copy first hit, yeah. If only they could've worked "flick" in there somewhere...

At 1:35 PM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

Oh! All that text and I still forgot to say that I know I'm definitely sending away for the gray, Anthony Stark LE. Aside from the lack of an Avengers TA it's so much more of a playable piece than the gold unique.

At 5:02 PM , Blogger Highlander said...

I've probably given Sunfire some short shrift. I guess after ICONS, anything that doesn't do 5 clicks of damage with a 13 attack seems weak to me, somehow.

I confess, I had simply assumed the gold armor IM was better than the more primitive, skeezier looking grey armored. However, I certainly stand corrected, now that I've looked at the dials. We'll be sending away for ours, never fear. And thanks for the heads up.

I had no idea that it was allowed to use a single card to give an effect to more than one character. That seems vaguely unsettling to me. I think I'll stick with our presumption here and keep it one card to one character. Otherwise, the girls will gleefully jam Fortitudes (and now, Repulsor Shields) onto everyone.

At 10:01 PM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

Understandable on the Icons impact. It's made me more curious about what this designer's going to do with the figures in Collateral Damage.

Yeah, the grey's relative stats were a surprise. More correctly, the gold version's were, as we'd seen the grey's first. I was trying to justify it on some grounds -- Tony being in more of an immediate life or death situation, trying to escape from a ruthless warlord, etc. -- but it doesn't add up much beyond the leading Outwit. A higher range, better stats, less end of dial weakness. It doesn't hold up when one considers that the grey was made in some third world-ish lab while the gold was well after he returned to all of his state of the art facilities and materials.

As far as the cards go, this is one case where you're going the official route while those of us generally sticking to WizKids' restrictive rules have essentially house-ruled around it. Then again, our local venue scrapped retirement issues months ago, so unless the night's theme restricts something then anything that fits in the build is a go.

With you all drawing from the same pool of cards it probably would work out fine either way. What we ran into at the venue level were too many situations where the advantage was going to players who had more cards to apply. Come to think of it, what actually tipped the boat was when one guy assembled a Skrull force and wanted to give Armor Piercing to all of the Skrull soldiers. He had the points to spend, and it seemed silly to insist he display 10 or more A.P. cards.

I've considered a force of rogue LMDs represented by Henchmen with LMD and A.P. on each of them, vs some GCPD, but it gets pretty limiting. Still, seeing how many Feats can be effectively applied to early generics could be fun. Perhaps a game where the base cost of each figure (pre-Feats) has to be under 20 in a 500 pt build?

At 7:02 AM , Anonymous SSquirrel said...

Happy Birthday! Can I still eat the paste?

At 10:51 AM , Blogger Highlander said...


Ah, HERE your comment is!

Yeah, help yourself to the paste. Honestly, it's not moving anywhere near as well as I thought it would. In fact, I can give you a very good bulk rate on it today.

More seriously, thanks for dropping by.


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