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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Surfin'

All this stuff I'm learning about the real world I reluctantly inhabit... peak oil... ongoing CIA mind control programs where kids are tortured, raped and drugged in an effort to deliberately turn them into schizophrenics whose various personality fragments the government can program to be sex slaves and assassins... the involvement of former U.S. Presidents in pedophile rings... the nearly inarguable mountain of evidence that our government was actively involved in implementing and facilitating the 9/11 attacks, which our media has completely chosen to ignore... it's all really really amazingly grim and horrid and depressing. So I'm not going to think about that.

Instead, I'm going to talk about... the Silver Surfer. Specifically, how badly WizKids has hosed the character over, and what I'd prefer to see them do instead.

It's a pathetic retreat into comforting fantasy, but more and more often these days, I think that's all any of us has, other than each other.


Above are the two versions of the Silver Surfer that WizKids has given us to date. There's little to choose between them. Both are enormously rare figures, something that is reflected by the around $40 price tag each fig carries in the secondary market. One has the Defenders Team Ability, allowing it to share its unmodified Defense Value with any adjacent Defender. Another has the much pricier Power Cosmic Team Ability, which allows it to take actions two turns in a row without being damaged, and which protects it from having its powers countered by Outwit.

The Defenders version, to the left, is only 177 points. It starts with slightly better stats than the more expensive 200 point Power Cosmic version, and has an opening click of Running Shot, which the PC version never gets. Unlike the PC version, this one follows the normal power dial progression of getting worse as he takes damage. (The Power Cosmic version actually gets a bit better through his first several clicks, but that's a sadistic trap on the part of WizKids... because the Power Cosmic TA keeps him from taking pushing damage, you can't deliberately 'push' him up his dial onto those better clicks. You just have to hope he takes the right amount of damage to land him there.)

Beyond that, as I said, there's little to choose between the two... somewhat different stats, some powers moved around to different places on the dial. What's most notable about this Surfer is what he lacks... pretty much any kind of super powers other than damage abatement, a little healing, and some Regeneration.

This is a travesty. As I've noted in previous entries, the Silver Surfer has the Power Cosmic. He's a former Herald of Galactus. The dude can do pretty much any damn thing he puts his mind to... levitate the Great Pyramids, create gigantic tidal waves and/or earthquakes, generate huge sheets of flame that fill the entire sky, create energy barriers, fly between the stars at speeds vastly faster than the velocity of light, bench press Buicks, sail into the heart of a sun, launch blasts of nearly infinite energy across vast distances, pound the Thing into gravel with his bare hands, and, you know, generally be an all purpose romper-stomper the likes of which few if any single figures in the DC or Marvel Universe would have a hope of withstanding.

Now, again, I've already admitted that no one single figure should be so dominant as to be invincible... if such a figure existed, no one would ever play anything else. But I do think that one can much more adequately reflect the vast array of the Silver Surfer's powers on a dial than WizKids has troubled themselves to do so far.

Thus and so:



Three clicks of Running Shot to start with, simulating the Surfer's main battle tactic, namely, blasting the living crap out of his opponents as he zips on by at high velocity. One click of Energy Explosion so he can do damage to a mob, which is especially handy with his 2 range targets. Two opening clicks of Impervious, because, well, see that whole 'sail into the heart of a sun' thing in the paragraph above. Three opening clicks of 4 damage with RCE, just in case the Surfer wants to really blast the crap out of a single target at range.

Following this, the Surfer gets a rainbow of options. A couple of clicks of Barrier on a reasonably high Defense, so he can make those cool energy-wall things in the air. A few clicks of Pulse Wave, so he can jack up everything around him if he needs to in mid air, and a few clicks of Telekinesis, so he can do that 'levitate the Great Pyramid' stunt if he feels the urge. Four clicks in, he gets some Charge, so he can slam his board into some recalcitrant cretin, at which point, he gets a click of Quake, which will let him toss around a group of opponents in close combat, followed by two clicks of Super Strength, so he can plainly beat the bejesus out of anyone who climbs up on his board without permission.

IN addition to all this, I gave him a little Perplex, one click of Exploit Weakness (goes with the Super Strength and Charge) and several clicks of Probability Control, all of which seem to me to work well with the whole Power Cosmic/he can do any damn thing he wants dealio.

I don't have one of the bootleg points calculator programs that other renegade dial designers have, so I have no idea how much this power dial would cost, especially since I'd almost certainly need to stick the Power Cosmic TA on it to justify all this blastage. I imagine he'd be well over 200 points. But what the hell, a 200+ point Silver Surfer would be appropriate, and with all this firepower, I imagine a lot of players would still be happy to put him on the table.

One thing I did want to mention -- I didn't give my Surfer HyperSonic Speed, although he does fly faster than light rather casually. The reason I didn't is that under my House Rules, HyperSonic Speed turns a character into someone who makes multiple close combat attacks on one or more opponents at extremely high velocity. This isn't the Surfer's MO. I would only give him HyperSonic Speed if I accompanied it with a special Silver Surfer feat card that would allow him to make Range Strikes with HSS, but would preclude him from making Close Combat attacks. That would be a very true representation of the Silver Surfer, who has often launched multiple energy blast attacks at targets while flying by them, but who has never gone zooming up, Flash style, and pummeled someone into debris with multiple punches.

So that's my Surfer. There are variations that could be done -- I'd expect if the current WizKids designer ever tried to give us a Surfer this versatile and power-packed, there would be at least a few clicks of Psychic Blast on the dial somewhere... but still, this is the general idea I'd like to see in a Norrin Radd. As I've noted before, the next Marvel set from WK is supposed to have a spacefaring theme, and the Silver Surfers we have are currently retired from play... so we can hope we'll get a new, and better, Silver Surfer sometime this autumn.

In the meantime, I just wistfully stare at the dial I gave mine, and wish for a better world...

3 Comments:

At 4:30 PM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

Nice work! I'm still partial to having some Support in the mix -- preferably at two, well-separated points -- as the Surfer is generally so nurturing and has used his power to heal.

While it wouldn't mean as much for you, as your house rules allow move and attack options already, but I'd be interested in seeing a well-designed Surfer who also has the Transporter ability.

Well, you may have seen (it apparently went up yesterday but I didn't see it until today) the announcement for Supernova includes pics for Thor, Thanos, Hyperion and a new Surfer, with the sculpts for Thor and the Surfer in particular at least appearing to be drawn from Jack Kirby source artwork. We'll have to wait for October to see if the dials are similarly inspired.

I'm hoping we get an REV of both Thanos and the Surfer this time, even though that'll also mean there will be LE versions of each running around. If these are REVs they'll definitely be upper tier clix in the set's numbering.

Seth's already let it be known that some clix with a point value in excess of 270 points will be part of Supernova, so there's some encouragement there.

I'm also encouraged that the ad mentions Kree, Skrulls, Shi'ar and Baddoon, which means we'll be getting at least the first 12 slots in the mix filled with figures we'll most want to have extras of for force-building.

 
At 5:00 PM , Blogger Highlander said...

Dammit. Well... now, as usual, SUPERNOVA is the one I'm champing at the bit for. I don't even have any SINISTER figs yet, and it already feels like old news. Dammit.

Those sculpts look awesome. It will be good to have impressive looking sculpts for Thor and the Surfer, especially. Thanos... hmmm. I'm thinking the original sculpt looks a bit better... but I'll hope for a better dial.

Hyperion? Geez, how many Marvel versions of Superman are they going to give us...?

I hope that the 'debut of the Squadron Supreme, New Warriors, and Guardians of the Galaxy' refers to new TAs. I really really do.

Oh, forgot to mention... I got my GIANTS set today. Nice.

Oh... and if you have a points calculator, could you tell me how much my Surfer costs? And, yeah... I guess I could give him two clicks of Support instead of 4 clicks of PC. You're right, he has used the power for healing purposes. Should have remembered that.

 
At 5:35 PM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

They let loose with the announcement on this set weeks ahead of when I'd expected. I'm right with you on feeling this deflating Sinister a bit more.

This Thanos appears to be based on some of the early appearances; hopefully the finished product will look better.

As best I could manage via point calculator, if I give your Surfer the Superman TA (since Power Cosmic isn't part of the generators I've seen, and Supes is pretty much the most expensive one accounted for) your Surfer is 332 points, give or take. Change Superman for Defenders and he's 307.

I had to choose stand-in abilities for Quake and Exploit Weakness, since those haven't been put into the old calculator I have, so it's rough... but in the ballpark.

Interestingly, if I change 8 & 9's clicks of PC to Support, he drops a point to 331. Given PC's ranged utitility and it being a free action, I'm almost surprised it's not worth relatively more than that.

If we knock off the 10th click and leave everything else in place (with Superman TA) he drops to 299, which at least makes that one possible since they've flatly stated that they won't make a standard-sized clix who breaks 300 points. Defenders instead of Superman and he's 277.

All of this is off in October, of course, so it's best left alone for now... but it's a very promising launch.

 

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