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Friday, September 22, 2006

Going Supernova

Mike Norton is trying to avoid any and all spoilers as to WizKids' next announced expansion set, Supernova. He wants to be as surprised as possible when he starts opening boosters, sometime in October. It's a novel approach to me, since I am but a slave to my ravening curiosity and I will fanatically and zealously track down every scrap of rumor I can find regarding an upcoming HeroClix set with the avidity of a Templar seeking some dusty, mystically preserved scrap of the baby Jebus' blessed footie pajamas.

Still, Mike may well be wiser than I. My insatiable hunger for news on the set requires me to read all the pertinent threads at WizKids' site, which forces me to expose my already gibbering brain to an uncountable number of posts by people with usernames like Scion-of-Darkseid and StormPhoenix and god help us all Stumpy-the-Destroyer, nearly all of whom can barely type because they're jerking off so hard at the thought of getting a figure of Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet, despite the fact that such a figure would have to cost 1.3 million points, and as one person ruefully points out in the thread, WK's current chief designer has stated himself that if he ever designed such a fig, he would not call it 'Thanos With Infinity Gauntlet', he would simply inscribe 'You Win' on the base and have done with it.

Nonetheless, out of respect for Mike, I'll try to keep specific details as have been released regarding the set down here, below the jump.

Since I first wrote that, back on June 30, and shoved it into my drafts folder, we've seen some movement on the set. Boneyard's confirmed list has gotten pretty long, as you can see from the reproduction below:

Skrull Generic (infiltrator? warrior? officer?) (Empress R'Kill? Lyja Lazerfist? Replica? Skymax? LE)
Kree Generic (soldier? lieutenant? captain?) (BelDann? Supreme Intelligence? Colonel Yon-Rogg? Noh-Varr? LE)
Badoon Generic (Brother Royale?)
Shi'ar Generic (warrior? infantry? royal guard? )
Thanos (Unique?)
Silver Surfer (Defender, Power Cosmic teams?)
Drax the Destroyer
Nova (Richard Rider) (or Nova Corpsman with Richard Rider LE)
Captain Marvel (3)/Photon/Genis-Vell
She-Hulk (new costume)
Machine Man
Vision (Exp = white version)
Super-Apes (?)
Character ending in "...ler" (616 Dazzler?)
Character with lower case "d" in name (Speedball? Red Ghost?)
Exile team member (Magnus? Nocturne? Holocaust? Beak? Morph?)
New Warrior member (Speedball? Namorita? Night Thrasher? Debriii? Microbe?)
Wrecking Crew member (Bulldozer? Piledriver?)
Guardian of the Galaxy member (Vance Astro/Major Victory/Justice? Starhawk? Martinex? Charlie-27? Yondu? Nikki?)
Jack o Hearts (REV? Unique?)
Dr. Spectrum (Alice Nugent)
Mantis (unique?)
Red Ghost (unique?)
Karnak (unique?)
Super Skrull (unique?)
Majestrix L'ilandra (unique)
Graviton (unique?)

The list itself is tantalizing, but lately, WizKids has been doing an excellent job on character selection -- giving us a lot of the older, Silver Age versions of characters, with enough of the newbies to keep the Modern Age pukes more or less content, too. I've been less sanguine about the dial designs -- but those who have read my past HeroClix posts know all about that, and I suspect there will be another dose coming up in this one.

Still, so far, the list of confirmed figures in this set is one I'm pretty enthusiastic about. For one thing, we're getting new Team Abilities in this set, and half of the teams, at least, are factions I'm happy to see added -- Guardians of the Galaxy, Squadron Supreme, and Badoon, specifically. We're also supposed to see New Warriors and maybe Exiles in this set, and about them, I'm much less anxious, but, hey, if I have to take a New Warriors TA to finally get a Rich Rider Nova, that's a deal I'm willing to make.

To the left, assuming the finished product you're looking at bears any resemblance to what I see in the Preview window, is a graphic of four of the figs. All of them look very good. Drax is, distressingly, not on a flight base, but we can hope that's a mistake, or that he's a REV and at least one of his REVs will have the power.

As to the other four, while no dial stats have been released as yet -- and with WK's newest game designer, the devil is always in those details -- I have to say I'm pretty happy to see all of them. A Rich Rider Nova, as mentioned above, is a fig I've wanted for a long time. Hyperion I can take or leave, but he's an old time Silver Age supervillain/hero (depending on which dimension he's native to) and as we're getting him, I can only hope we get a REV, so one of him can have the new Squadron Supreme TA (the heroic version) and another can have a Sinister Syndicate TA (apparently, the stand in TA for Squadron Sinister, the villainous otherdimensional analogue of the Squadron Supreme).

The Cosmic Armor Doom, supposedly reflecting Dr. Doom as he was in the long ago Secret Wars mini-series, is an 'ehhhh'. It's nice to have another Dr. Doom out there, and assuming he has a decent dial, I'll pick one up eventually, if only so I can swap out the fig with one of the extra Doom sculpts I have from Clobberin' Time, perhaps sacrificing a Doombot to the necessity, as I like the earlier sculpt much better. However, a lot will depend on the dial. Still, Seth doesn't seem to like to design really powerful characters, so hopefully, this Doom will have an adequately versatile power array and decent stats. That's all I hope for.

Another reason I'm enthusiastic about Supernova is that it marks WK's return to REVs of generic figs, and in a big way, too, with new REVs of previous established alien races (Kree and Skrulls) and the introduction of generic REVs of two new races (Badoon and Shi'ar). As an old time Silver Age fan I'm delighted to see the lizardlike Badoon coming into the game; the bird-like Shi'ar, on the other hand, I'm pretty much aloof to the charms of. Still, I guess it would be nice to give Deathbird a few lackeys to lead into battle.

Other characters from the confirmed list that I'm enthusiastic about -- a new Thor, a new Vision, a new Super Skrull, Machine Man, Mantis, the Red Ghost and his Super Apes, Karnak, Jack of Hearts, at least one member of the Guardians of the Galaxy... nothing wrong there.

However, this morning I went over to the WK site pretty early, and was absolutely delighted to find they've loaded up pics and dial diagrams for a figure that isn't even on the confirmed list -- a figure I've been waiting for for a very long time... a figure that, at long long last, seems to finally dispel WK's long standing Hank Pym hoodoo.

Yes, I'm talking about this tiny guy here --

Yeah, baby! We're talkin' ANT-MAN -- not the figure-free hockey puck WK put out long ago and far away, with the strained joke explanation that "he's too small to be seen". This fig has a sculpt, and from what I can see, it's a bee-YOO-ti-ful one, too. About friggin' time.

While WK makes reproducing their dial grids a little more difficult than I can handle while here at work typing between calls, I'll do my best to hit the highlights:

The rookie version of the Ant-Man has an Avengers TA, which is nice, since Seth has been stingy with them. Interestingly, he has two opening clicks of Charge, making him a fairly useful piece, as he will be one of the few who, under WK's normal rules, can both move and attack. His mobility is limited with a Speed value of 6, but he's a little guy, who mostly moves around on ant-back, so that's acceptable. His opening defense of 18 will make him damned hard to hit, especially in the Seth Era, where nearly every figure has a top Attack Value of 9. This rookie Ant-Man himself opens with an Attack Value of 9, which slopes down pretty quickly over his six clicks of life to bottom out at a 6. Lastly, his opening click shows 2 damage, with Outwit... which, combined with the Charge, the highest Attack Value he'll see, and the highest Defense, makes it the slot you want to try hard to keep the fig on. Oh, yeah, and he has a range strike out to 4 squares away, which ain't great, but ain't bad either.

At 48 points, the Avengers TA and the pretty sweet single starting slot make this a potentially effective add on to any Avengers team. Once l'il Pym takes a hit, he'll land on some Leap-Climb, before finally (if he lives that long) ending up with some Stealth and some Super Senses, as he moves into full retreat.

All that's under WK's normal tournament rules. Under my House Rules, the Charge will let Ant-Man potentially add 1 to his damage, and he'll be able to move the full 6 and make a close combat attack, instead of halving his movement to 3. His Outwit should let him look for weaknesses in his opponent's defensive powers, letting him get rid of damage ablatement on most and hit for that full 2 or 3 points. The Super Senses on his last three clicks will do more than protect him under my House Rules; he'll also be able to see other Stealthed figures wherever they're hiding, which makes sense, since the classic Ant-Man was always getting sneaky intel from his insect buddies.

The Experienced Ant-Man has no Avengers TA, and I strongly suspect he's meant to represent that Scott Lang loser who took over Hank's costume for awhile. Given that this version's major villain was a gigantic fat guy named Darren Cross, I say fuck him eternally; about the only good thing Brian Michael Bendis has done on his AVENGERS run is blow him the christ up. Still, he adds a great deal of Incapacitate to the dial and gets some Super Senses up front on his best Defense of 18, which ain't nothing to sneer at. He loses Pym's Charge and Outwit, but picks up three clicks of Perplex, a power the Avengers badly, badly need. He also gets more Stealth than the Pym version did, and one click of Defend so he can share his second slot 17 Defense with his buddies. For 66 points he's not a bad version of Ant-Man, and under my House Rules, where I can put an Avengers TA on him if I want to, he could see some play.

Then there's the Vet. At 81 points, he's a pricey little cuss for his size, and sadly, he's almost certainly a more experienced version of the Scott Lang Ant-Man. Still, denial is not a river in Egypt, and I'll think of him as a better version of Hank Pym if I wanna, dammit. He regains the Avengers TA, gets a click of Charge back again up front, picks up 3 clicks of Incapacitate up front with a 9 AV on all of them, gets Super Senses on his first three clicks of DV (18-17-16), sees his DV pop back up to 18 again in his fourth slot (no powers), and has four slots of Perplex. While I'd like it if they gave him just one lowly click of Outwit, maybe at the end of his dial, both because Pym should have it (I'm denying that this is Scott Lang! Denying it! Get on board or hit the road, Jack!) and because it would let him be a Brilliant Tactician (which the Avengers badly need, and Pym could do that, too), still, it's a decent dial, and one which reflects Ant-Man's mental capacaties as well as his physical abilities, and now, if they'd just do me a decent Giant-Man so I could switch them out with my home grown POLYMORPH feat, I'd be all set. As far as Pym goes, I mean.

A decent Pym fig? A REV of the Silver Surfer? RED GHOST AND HIS SUPER APES?

Could this be... THE BEST SET... EVER???

Hey, there's a new Vision REV posted, too. Let's look at him:

The rookie looks like this, but solid, not transparent; according to Boneyard's list, the Experienced version will be the pale, colorless Vision we had after Byrne fucked him over righteously in WEST COAST AVENGERS back in the 80s.

This sculpt shows one central problem to WK's portrayal of the Vision -- he's on a flight stand. Now, the Vision does fly, certainly. But he flies by lowering his density until he is lighter than air -- supposedly. Actually, the Vision's powers are extremely difficult to explain, and how he flies, or passes through solid objects, or disrupts solid objects when he wants to, is rather baffling, and, I suspect, has been very inconsistently depicted over the years, since most comics writers aren't physicists.

However, the Vision can pass through walls, and he can fly, and the result of that is, under WK's normal rules (and my House Rules, for that matter) he can carry another figure with him when he moves (because he flies) and he can also move through walls (Blocking Terrain, in WK terms), which means he can carry another figure through a wall. Which he has never done, in the comics. Which bothers me deeply, because it's invariably how he will be used in the game... even I use him for that, and I know he can't do it.

So I was hoping for a Vision this time around that wouldn't have a flight stand. He would still be able to move through walls (assuming WK gave him Phasing/Teleport, which they certainly would) but he wouldn't be able to carry anyone. That would have fixed it, although on an outside map, a non-flying Vision would not have been able to soar, which would also have been inaccurate. But, I think, not so much as a Vision who can carry an ally through a wall with him, which, well, while we don't really know how his power works, he's been around 40 years now, and we've never seen him do that. So I assume he can't.

As to the dials:

The rookie Vision is the most straightforward. He gets a lot of phasing; in a nice touch, for two of the three slots where he has Super Strength, he also has Earthbound, meaning he's too heavy to fly. He also gets Impervious in those two slots, where when he's Phasing and Flying, he gets Super Senses and Energy Shield/Deflection, meaning his intangibility makes him harder to hit, but not harder to hurt.

The Rookie and Experienced versions of the Vision each get several clicks of Exploit Weakness, to represent his disruptive touch attack, with which he can damage (and usually render unconscious) nearly any solid opponent. The Vet loses this, picking up a lot of Perplex and some Outwit, so Vizh can be a Brilliant Tactician at this level, which will be handy. The Experienced gets some Psychic Blast and some Incapacitate; the Vet loses the Incapacitate, keeps the Psychic Blast, and has a great deal of Super Strength. The rookie has a range of 6, the Experienced 8, and the Vet has a 10.

Each version is very playable, with different combinations to offer. When pressed for points, the 65 point rookie will be a perfectly adequate Android Avenger; the 108 pt Experienced and the 138 pt Vet will also make their ways onto various teams when I have the room. All versions have the Avengers TA, which is as it should be (although, if the rookie had had the Masters of Evil, to reflect his very brief time as a thrall of Ultron, it wouldn't have bothered me all that much).

The new Silver Surfer REV looks good, too, although I'm less thrilled about his dial. Still, so far, the set looks good -- excellent character selection, beautiful sculpts, and probably the best dial design I've seen from Seth yet.

And an ANT-MAN -- ooooh! I'm giddy as a schoolboy!


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