Monday, October 06, 2008

Arkham Asylum Villains

Very soon -- but not soon enough -- the next set of DC Heroclix, Arkham Asylum will be out.

The set is full of gems, but I want to highlight a few of my favorite villain in the set.


Yes, he is riding a shark with a frickin' laser beam on its head. Because that is how evil he is. There was a Black Manta in the very first set of DC Heroclix. But they were still getting the bugs out of the system, and he quickly gained a reputation as, point for point, the most useless piece in the game. Well, no one on the beach will be kicking sand is this one's face. The figure represents his eyebeams with the penetrating Psychic Blast and Energy Explosion, and his underwater prowess with Superstrength, Toughness. And his "Pirate" power lets him Perplex up his stats or those of another aquatic figure.

Like Black Manta, the Riddler appeared in the first DC Heroclix set and was of questionable utility. That won't be said of the new one, who is a masterpiece of capturing what a Batman villain does without making him a powerhouse. He has Stealth and Leap/Climb, which are pretty key when fighting the Batfamily. Mastermind and Exploit Weakness made him a threat at close range, and at a distance he's got some "riddle-related" powers. One givex him Outwit and Perplex at the same time; it's a special version of Perplex that allows him to lower an opponent's battle stat by 2. Those ultra-high-defense figures, like Jay Garrick, might be in for an unpleasant surprise when the Riddle catches them off guard with some puzzle, and they let down their defenses. And "Riddle Me This" is a special version of Incapacitate as a free action (with the possibility of double-incapping an opponent). The Riddler can seriously mess up your opponent's team, as long as you have other character to do the actual punching for him; which is exactly as it should be.

The villainous Riddler is 90 points. But there's also an LE version, Edward Nigma, which for 60 points represents the reformed Riddler, the private detective. It has the usual Riddlerish powers (Outwit, Incapacitate, Perplex, Leap/Climb, Mastermind).
The Penguin is another villain whose remake was badly needed, as his original version was useless. This time, they figured out that his crime umbrellas are an excuse to give him nearly any power, including Energy Explosion, a special joint power for Smoke Cloud and Blades/Claws/Fangs, and Defend. That Defend is going to make him popular on Batman Enemy teams, where he can lurk behind others and keep their defense values high. His criminal acumen is represented by Mastermind (passing damage on to adjacent allies), Willpower (the ability to more twice in a row without penalty), and Outwit (the ability to cancel someone else's power from a distance).

Like the Riddler, Two-Face has two versions: the regular criminal genius version and a Limited Edition "reformed" version. The regular version has some expected powers, like Stealth, Mastermind, and Perplex. Flurry (the ability to attact an adjacent character twice) is a nice touch, but even nice is a special power that represents his coin toss, giving him either Incapacitate or Psychic Blast (either of which makes him useful against the big boys). The "reformed" version is similar, with both Flurry and Mastermind. But it is more of a personal combatant, with Combat Reflexes, Exploit Weakness, and a special power that grants Outwit and Willpower. The best touch is giving him the Batman ALLY ability. This "permanent stealth" will force most foes to come face to face with him, where his Combat Reflexes and Exploit Weakness will be to his advantage.

As welcome as all these figures are, they are capped by the creation of a new generic Thug with the Batman Enemy Ability (sharing Attack Values among adjacent Batman Enemies). These guys will be perfect to put in front of a supercriminal to share his Attack and absorbs his Damage (courtesy of the Mastermind Batvillains often have). That figure's dial hasn't been made public yet, but the generic has an LE version that has been revealed: The Henchmen. He's only got five clicks, but he's packed with a grab-bag of abilities that make him a great utility player. He's got a special ability that makes him a wildcard for team abilities and keywords for all the major villainous groups, which makes him the ideal sidekick for most any villain.


Steve Mitchell said...

The upgrades on the Bat-villains from the early Clix sets are very welcome. Ditto the new version of Black Manta. Plus I'm excited at the prospect of finally having the Legion of Super-Villains to put on the table.

The sculpts are looking good so far, better than the rather static poses that predominated in Secret Invasion.

Nightwing Wannabe said...

I LOVE the Black Manta love love it.

But how is he part of Arkham Assylum? Isn't he an Aquaman villian, not a Batman one? Just curious.

I'd get the Black Manta...just to have...I have no clue how to play the game.

PJ said...

I hadn't noticed the laser gun on Black Manta's shark's head. That's pretty rad.

And the names for the LE henchman's powers are priceless. They obviously had a lot of fun with that.

Steve Mitchell said...

The titles of the HeroClix booster sets are broadly thematic but not specifically binding.

So in Crisis, you had a bunch of Teen Titans (instead of Lady Quark and Prince Ra-Man; grrr); Armor Wars, supposedly about Iron Man and his foes, had several Alpha Flight members, etc.

So don't take the booster set titles too literally.

HeroClix is not that hard to learn. Get a starter set (Fantastic Four is the most recent) and a couple of booster packs, start small (200-point or 300-point battles), and then build to bigger, more epic confrontations. You can also mix and match DC and Marvel characters; they use the same rules.

Nightwing Wannabe said...

Thanks Steve...I assume rules of the game are in each pack or something? Do you have to download boards and things too?

Steve Mitchell said...

A starter set has the complete HeroClix rules, a map, dice, markers, and some figures to start with.

So, taking the Fantastic Four as the most recent example, the FF starter set has all four members of the FF, plus Dr. Doom and two different Doombots. The FF starter set also has a double-sided map, with the grounds of Castle Doom on one side, and the interior of the Baxter Building on the other.

The booster packs have randomly mixed figures (five in the current boosters, four in the older boosters) plus cards and supplemental rules as needed.

You don't have to download anything to play, although the WizKids site has the rules on line for downloading, plus bonus scenarios and a complete gallery of all the figures that have been released for HeroClix so far.

If you have a comic shop or games store nearby, the folks there can probably give you more advice on how the Clix games work and what starters or boosters you might be interested in.

Diamondrock said...

As a serious modeler and painter (I play Games Workshop games and largely for the miniatures) I just want to say that it may be the case that WizKids has made great strides with their rules (I'll have to take your word for it).

But I know for a fact that they've made UNBELIEVABLE progress with their models and their paint jobs. There is just no comparison between the first run DC figures (I've got a few) and the stuff they are putting out these days. It's just incredible.

I'm excited to start working on some custom figures, actually. I'm just not sure who I should be trying to make... Got any ideas?

Steve Mitchell said...

Calling Dr. Totaltoyz!

I've been ordering conversions from our esteemed correspondent totaltoyz for years. I specify a dial for him to mount the figure on, that has a power set and point total appropriate to the figure in question.

I'm big on Golden Age characters, so I have conversions for Ibis the Invincible, Rockman, the Fiery Mask, the Purple Tigress, the Heap, Magno, Jack Frost, and many others. Currently, totaltoyz is working on some pre-FF Atlas era monsters for me, and my next order for him will be all 35 victims of Marvel's Scourge of the Underworld.

There are undoubtedly hundreds of characters that will never appear in official HeroClix format: too old and forgotten, too obscure, too costly to get the rights (Spawn?), etc. Even within the DC and Marvel rosters, it's not likely that WizKids will ever produce Space Ranger or Dr. Droom or Roy Raymond or the Painter of a Thousand Perils. So knock yourself out!

Jacob said...

Black Manta surfing on a shark with a laser strapped to its head...

Sounds like Wizkids are employing Chris Sims in some sort of consultant role.

I'm guessing some of the other sculpts will be of characters kicking people in the face or being kicked in the face; I'm looking at you Johnny Sorrow. (But not directly)

Derek said...

I must have the new Riddler. Both of them.

Not only does this one sound actually useful, but he's not in that awful unitard.

Hey, Nightwing (and Diamondrock), Steve is right, Definitely pick up the new Fantastic Four starter set. I don't even like the Fantastic Four, but I could not pass it up. The figures are beautiful.

accursed interloper said...

How come that shark has those forward-pointing cutesy-wootsy Flipper eyes?

generic viagra said...

Black Manta is one of my favorites of the characters, he looks so great in that custom.