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Friday, May 11, 2007

More clix nonsense!! AUGH!!!

So, my buddy Bane (yes, he's seven feet tall) came by last night and gave me a bag full of all his old HeroClix, because he isn't going to play any more. Most of it was stuff I already had, but there were a few gems in there that I didn't, like, two different Unique Superman figures (the Son of Darkseid Superman, and the Worlds At War Superman with the Black 'S' symbol), a Vet Superman and a Vet Batman from Hypertime (I'll never play them, but it's nice to have them in my JLA line up) and an Experienced Logan from Clobberin' Time.

I also got two more rookie Doombots, a rookie Vampire Lackey, and an Experienced Dr. Doom from Clobberin' Time, all of which I find to be fine and worthy additions to my burgeoning collection.

And, I picked up a few Uniques and some other stuff that I already had, meaning I can now add to my trade list, as follows:

Darkseid (Unique, Hypertime)
Silver Swan
Thanos (IC)
Wolverine LE (IC, gold and brown costume)
Wolverine LE (purple ring, FCBD giveaway last year)

I had to do some light superglue repairwork on a few figs (the flightstand was broken off one of the Superman Uniques, Darkseid had snapped off his base) but both were quick fixes. I'm keeping the glued Darkseid for my personal collection; the one I'm offering for trade is the unbroken one I had previously been displaying.

And, jesus, you're already nodding off. Well, that's okay, if my only purpose in life is to help you get some badly needed sleep, well, that foot is me.

Continuing to orate into an auditorium echoing with snores: I find that, while I'm wildly enthusiastic about the upcoming AVENGERS set, it seems to be a sort of generalized eagerness at this point. Every figure that WK has shown us so far from the set -- and I grant you, it's only three to date -- has been disappointing to me for some reason or another. The new Red Skull is deeply flawed; some interesting ideas, but overall, for a guy who is supposed to be ominipotent, he's pretty much a doorknob. The newest Spider-Man figure represents a period in the Marvel Universe that I loathe to a depth and with an intensity that cannot clearly be articulated with mere mortal words... which is kind of annoying to me, since he's got a really useful dial, with that special Double Incapacitate power (combined on two slots with Flurry!) all that Shape Shift, very acceptable numbers (an 18 Defense, with Super Senses! I swoon!)... that opening click with Leap/Climb, Super Strength, Invulnerability, and Outwit is a rocker, although I'd trade the Invulnerability for a higher Defense Value and Willpower, to preserve that slot a little longer.

Sorry, sorry. Anyway, I hate the actual character that the figure represents, which means, it's very aggravating to me that (a) it's a Spider-Man figure, of which I have all to date, so I'll have to try to get this one, even though I loathe it, and (b) the goddam thing is useful, too.

I dunno. Maybe I'll actually throw together a Bendis Avengers team, with this Spider-Man and the SINISTER Daredevil and Sentry and a that horrible Jewel figure and some other dreadful pieces of plastic and have them get thoroughly trounced by a Geoff Johns Justice Society. Or a classic Defenders line up! That might make me feel better.

As to the new Mandarin figure... well, I like his dial very much, but, hey, TWO Mandarins now, and still no classic Silver Age sculpt? How many Chinese masterminds in sissy looking green and yellow dresses do we really need?

Of course, it's early, and the set could still redeem itself. A new Black Panther, hopefully a Vet, that is no rarer than an Uncommon and that is at least as useful as an Experienced Hypertime Batman would be a fabulous addition to the game. A Golden Age Human Torch would be good. Bucky, well, if Seth doesn't screw up his dial too bad, Mr. Barnes, Boy Sidekick will be a welcome figure. Toro should be decent, although I truly fear his best Attack Value may well be an 8, which will make me cry like a little girl.

And then there's the classic Jack Kirby Giant-Man we know is included in this set... oooh, I get shivers. If Seth is only smart enough to put at least one click of Outwit on his dial, I'll be a happy camper indeed.

Still, right now, I am not impressed. WK is going to have to show me a lot more flash for my cash before I get anywhere close to pleased with this set.

Moving on to the upcoming LEGION starter set -- at this point we've seen all seven figures and dials, and, well, I'm pretty disappointed. This is the debut of the new 'white powers' whereby specific characters can be given very specific powers that otherwise could not be simply put on a pre-programmed dial, and this new flexibility in power definition has been given to only two of the new Legionnaires, Phantom Girl and Saturn Girl.

On the other hand, it's very pleasant to see Legionnaire figures with real Legionnaire names, as opposed to crapola like Umbra and Live Wire.

Ultra Boy presents a special challenge in dial design, as he has pretty much every super power that the standard 'superman' model allows -- Super Strength, Super Speed, Invulnerability, various types of Super Vision, and Flight, cutesily renamed with 'Ultra' instead of 'Super' in each particular power title -- but he can only activate one power at a time. Like all Legionnaires, he has a Flight Ring, so he doesn't ever have to actually activate that power, and can, in fact, fly while using another power... but he absolutely can not, just for one example, be ultra-strong and invulnerable at the same time.

WK has been somewhat cognizant of this, giving Ultra Boy battle fury on several of his slots to represent that he can't use his Ultra Vision when using another power. And yet... well... look at his power grid:

I do not understand how Ultra Boy has Super Strength and Impervious on the same slots; he can't use those powers at the same time, and it's obvious Seth knows that from the write up on the card, and, as I've already noted, from the fact that he's using Battle Fury (the orange on the Damage grid) to turn off Ultra Boy's range strike. Yet on the slots where Ultra Boy has a range strike, that's ALL he should have, and on his very first slot, he has Super Strength, Impervious, and a range strike of 6! In fact, for his first three slots he has at least three different powers working at once; it isn't until his fourth and fifth clicks that his powers actually works the way they're supposed to work, with only HyperSonic Speed and Super Senses (which he has, supposedly, due to his UltraSpeed, so those two together make sense) Still, I'm happy to have several new Legionnaires in plastic form, as well as a Lightning Lad who is actually playable.

Then he goes over to Psychic Blast, which is, nonsensically, called 'Penetra Vision' on his power card -- this is just straight up wrong, because Ultra Boy's 'Penetra Vision' is, in fact, X Ray Vision with no weakness against lead, and not an offensive power at all. (Ultra Boy does have a form of Ultra Vision that corresponds to Superboy's heat vision, but it doesn't have any special name that I recall.) And he has it along with Flurry (which he gets from his UltraSpeed) and Toughness, which, honest to God, I cannot see any justification for at all -- he's either Invulnerable or he's not, with nothing in between.

Giving Ultra Boy two or more powers on a slot isn't necessarily bad; in the slots where he has both Psychic Blast and Flurry, well, he can't use those powers together, as one is only usable in Close Combat and the other is strictly a Ranged Attack. So that's fine. And I suppose we can even reason around Super Strength and Impervious on the same slot, since he'll be using Super Strength when he attacks, and Impervious when an opponent attacks. Still, it kind of defeats the underlying principle of Ultra Boy, which is, basically, when he's using an offensive power, he's vulnerable, and when he can't be hurt, he can't hurt anyone else, either.

Mind you, this particular Ultra Boy, at 130 points, is going to see a lot of play on Legion theme teams, as he's very useful, but it always bothers me when a character is designed inconsistently with how they are portrayed in the comics.

On the other hand, it's lovely to have a playable Lightning Lad.

For a look at the more serious math derived realities of WK's new booster set up and distribution system, you'll have to check Mike Norton's masterful analysis, over here.

UPDATE: The ever formidable Orto (almost certainly the only person besides my wife who will ever read this entry all the way through) reminds me in comments that Ultra Boy's version of heat vision is now and always has been known as 'Flash Vision' -- something I should have remembered, but, well, I'm getting old. Thanks for jogging my few remaining gray cells, Mr. Norton.

I'd also meant to mention that Ultra Boy really struck me as one of the characters where the new, power card defined, very specific 'white powers' could have seen real application. The mechanic WizKids has defined in the past for allowing people to use super vision type powers (that can see through walls, etc) has been the Superman Ally or Ultimates TA, which essentially conveys upon its bearer the ability to ignore the effects of Hindering Terrain. Since without Hindering Terrain there is no Stealth, this has worked quite well in the past. A 'white power' could fairly easily have been given to Ultra Boy on alternating dial slots that would have had much (or exactly) the same effect, allowing him to him intermittent access to his actual Penetra Vision powers, instead of simply miscalling his Flash Vision that on the powers card.

Ah, well.

I'd originally planned to lament at length on how badly Timber Wolf has been misused by the times and tides of stupid overwriting. A character who was once a super-agile, superstrong fighting type with a bad temper has turned into some sort of appalling Wolverine clone, without the benefit of admantium bones or claws. Such a devolution probably became inevitable the moment Marvel signed former Legion penciller Dave Cockrum to draw their new X-MEN title. Cockrum had previously redesigned the entire Legion, including Timber Wolf, giving TW a much more lupine facial appearance, with the upraised, pointy tufts of hair at either temple we more commonly associate now with Wolverine. But it was Cockrum who drew Wolverine for the very first time without his mask, and it must have been Cockrum's idea to basically give Wolverine the same general appearance as he had previously awarded to Timber Wolf. (Cockrum was also the first person to draw Wolverine's most common non-costumed wardrobe, with the sheepskin jacket and the narrow cowboy hat.)

Given these new visual similarities, and Wolverine's enormous popularity, it was only a matter of time before some LEGION scribe tried to make Timber Wolf more brutish and 'Wolverine-like'. And certainly one could argue that a character named 'Timber Wolf' should actually have something wolfish about his powers and personality. I, however, had always been content with the original depiction of Timber Wolf, screwy as it was... that he had long believed he was an android and thus, not really fit for human company, which was why he originally referred to himself as 'Lone Wolf'; as it turned out, though, he was a human who had gained super powers from some experiments on him by his father, and who had had his human identity stolen by an android also built by his father. Once this was straightened out, the former 'Lone Wolf' was invited to join the Legion and in celebration of his newly socialized status, he changed his name to 'Timber Wolf'. (More problematic with Timber Wolf has always been the subject of his 'unique superpower', something that the Legion often states is a requirement for membership, while studiously looking anywhere and everywhere except at Mon-El, Superboy, and Supergirl. Timber Wolf's 'unique power', with much clearing of throats, has always been stated to be his 'super agility', whatever the hell THAT means, beyond that he seems to be the only Legionnaire who can do a backflip. It should be noted that the 'unique power' has historically only been used to keep unpopular losers that nobody really liked out of the Legion, like Erg-1, or Lightning Lass. This particular regulation made up half of an infamous exclusion equation that worked very well for the Legion for a very long time; the other half, an always subjectively defined "how USEful is your power" standard, was, like the "must have a unique power" requirement, honored far more in the breech than otherwise, as anyone with eyes to see Light Lass, Star Boy, Triplicate Girl, or, for the love of sweet baby jesus, Matter Eater Lad, could clearly discern.)

(Yes, I did leave Bouncing Boy off the Useless Legionnaires list, because Bouncing Boy isn't useless, he's simply funny looking. Funny looking or no, though, he'll kick YOUR ass, and probably, Wolverine's ass, too. So shut up.)


At 12:23 AM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

First off, thanks for the kindly mention.

Some good additions to come in out of the blue.

In several ways we're being put through our paces - in a slow, tortuous fashion - on the way to June 27th and the dual appearance of the Legion starter and the Avengers set. Bit by bit I'm coming to more of an accommodation with the price shift -- at the moment the best price I've seen for a case if $155, which is a 22.4% discount, for a pre-order, from a place that offers free UPS ground on orders over $150. (I have no idea how long this pre-order special will be in place; it could be up until close to the release or it could change next week.) That the simple math of the set tells us one would still only have either 6 or 7 super-rare pieces (and one or more could be duplicates) at that point out of the 12 in the set... I don't know. I know I'll be going to the heralds tournaments (primarily to get the four of them), so if I follow that through to week 5 that'll be another 10 boosters. As I say, I don't know. I'm more willing to go overboard and come out the fool with a Marvel set than I am a DC one, so Avengers will likely be covered for me, with late August's Justice League set bearing the brunt of any disappointment (and cash over-indulgence)in Avengers.

I remain very interested in the set, and even while the Red Skull offers a questionable interpretation and the Spider-man we're offered is representative of what's essentially a costume and look Spider-man had for maybe a couple weeks of Marvel time, I'm not being turned off the set. Hopefully the Webbing power seen on this dial will be repeated in other versions of Spider-man. Some are speculating that we'll see a more common-level Spidey elsewhere in this set, but I'm not convinced.

Since even a case-buyer (just a bit over half the size of old case) could very well never see the super-rare Spidey.

One more note about the Webbing mechanic, it struck me that if one was to put it on a 0 Range figure along with some Super Strength, good damage reduction powers and some Leap/Climb to simulate the ability to glide and it could make a decent Gray Gargoyle.

I'd started to do write-ups on recent pieces but they were plainly having early problems with some of the dials, Ultra Boy had a click of Poison on his dial for much of the first day, and I see that over a day later the addition of Spider-Man's dial has resulted in Mandarin's right hand power set being replaced with Webbing. I decided the world would do fine without my pausing to comment in any detail. I can always go back and catch up on choice ones... once we have more to choose from.

I'm sure they'll pick up the pace a little as the release date gets closer, but I don't know by how much. Mark Tuttle is currently intent on a Christmas morning atmosphere of surprise on June 27th, so that the first two in-booster previews for the set have been of sculpts we'd previously seen has me wondering if we won't see anything not already on the list of 17 leaked weeks ago. On the other hand, if feedback from retailers and Diamond that orders are running lighter than expected they might loosen up a little and leak something they consider to be a grabber.

Based on random comments from various clix players it seems relatively few are interested in seeing the classic costume (the mask, in particular), as the vocal rest consider it almost as embarrassing as the idea of coming out with an original Kirby Galactus with a big "G" on his chest.

As for Ultra Boy's version of heat vision several have noted it's supposed to be called Flash Vision. My brushes with the Legion have been casual and spread out, meaning I've given their details the same level of attention I've probably given to Popeye. No denigration intended, they just didn't make a critical, early life connection with me.

At the moment I'm possibly more interested in the set's as yet unseen map, what two, 3-D objects will be coming our way from the 31st century, and seeing if they've improved the rule book. We're not expecting much if anything in the way of rules changes, so the focus is supposed to be on clarity. We'll see.

I'm interested in seeing how soon Seth comes out with more of the keyword lists, which he says he's working on. As the Legion set was rolling out and I looked back even just over the Origin keyword list (the only one we have thusfar) and began to see the possibilities for a "Teen" theme team. (As a side note, I was pleased to see that the upcoming Spider-man also managed the keyword "scientist", which I'm hoping will lead to some interesting teams, too.)

Well... enough from me on all this.

At 10:39 PM , Blogger Scipio said...

"I do not understand how Ultra Boy has Super Strength and Impervious on the same slots"

Think less literally.

Superstrength is an offensive power used only during attacking (and carryying an object in preparation for an attack); Impervious is a Defensive power, which is really used only on your opponent's turn, not yours.

So, the exegesis is something like this...

When your turn is over, Jo 'turns off' his Superstrength and switches his power to Imperviousness for the duration of your opponent's turn. When it's your turn again, he switches back to Superstrength.

The same type of analysis can be applied to the rest of the dial; having two powers on the same click isn't exactly the same as using two powers at the same time.

At 2:57 PM , Blogger The Bunnyman said...


I have no idea if I'm even going to be buying any AVENGERS or the LEGION set at this point, due to current circumstances. Time will tell, I guess. But thanks for the lengthy comment.


I appreciate your tit-for-tat comment, and the blogger ethical code that obviously inspired it. Having said that, I'd appreciate it more if you'd actually read the post you're responding to before you respond. Your "he's strong on his player's turn, and invulnerable on his opponent's turn" rationale is one I mention myself; I also mention I find it unsatisfying, as U-boy is supposed to be vulnerable when he's using his Super Strength. The game structure itself does not allow him to be attacked on his player's turn; he SHOULD be vulnerable when his opponent gets a chance to attack him, if he used Super Strength on his last turn.

Beyond that, his Impervious will come into play if he attacks an opponent using Damage Shield. That may seem like a minor, very picky example, but, well, still, him having Ultra Strength and Impervious on the same slot simply doesn't work for me.

As noted, I'll play him, but I think he's been badly designed.

I notice you also didn't address my points as regards being puzzled by Jo having Toughness. I mean, how does this work? Either he's Impervious or he isn't; there is no middle ground.


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