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.

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