Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scream Team and the Scary House

Well, I know it's a little early for Halloween.  Okay-- a lot.  But when you're a horror fan like me, Halloween is more of an attitude than an event.  Kind of like how DC is with reboots.

Anyway, my Halloweeniness has been inspired by the release of the newest Marvel Heroclix set, which features many of Marvel's classic monster characters.

I've commented before that one of the sources of the differences between DC and Marvel is that, while DC's principal roots are in detective and pulp stories, Marvel's are in monster and romance stories. This has given Marvel a rich tradition of monster lore: Tomb of Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Living Mummy, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, "Zuvembies", Dazzler.

These characters are represented in Marvel's most recent Heroclix set, and I snagged some myself to help complete my longstanding desire for a Halloween theme team with which to surround DC's Scarecrow.

Here's a 401 pt Halloween Scream Team(I don't sweat a couple points one way or the other in my builds):
BS-023 Scarecrow; 74 pt
AS-010 Frankenstein's Monster; 65 pts
AS-011 Living Mummy; 92 pt
AS-012 Vampire; 43 pt
OR-090 Gentleman Ghost; 83 pt
BM-099 Flock of Bats (black); 13 pt

Sure, Gentlemen Ghost isn't exactly the most terrifying specter in the afterlife, but he is DC's best known ghostly villain (certainly in Heroclix).

Add in a black cat (DS-102 Catwoman; 75 pt) for bad luck and a Flock of Bats Grey BM-009 (18 pts) and you have a 494 pt team.

Once I composed this team, I longed for an appropriate map to play them on; Heroclix just doesn't have any scary maps.  Then I stumbled across a custom one that I had forgotten about! I'd designed it but never had it printed.  Here, then, is 

The Scary House



Those of you who ever heard of the defunct "Horroclix" game will recognize the style.  

I'd been trying to put together a team of DC scientists to fight this group.  Now, most of DC's really science-y scientists are villains... but I managed to come with these guys:

JL-107 Barry Allen 80 pts (he's a police scientist)
BS-006 Blue Beetle 61 pts (that's Ted Kord, the inventor)
CJ-222 The Atom 50 pts (physicist Ray Palmer)
DC-041 Batman 102 pts (in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Batman's a scientist.")
CR-049 Will Magnus & Platinum 75 pts (crazy roboticist Will!)
BB-022 Cave Carson 24 pts (speluncologists are scientists, too).

That's 392 pts, which perfect to fight the 401 Scream Team, and if you want them to go up against the 494 version the answer is simple.  Just add on:

OR-068 Starman 106 pts (Astronomer, physicists, inventor Ted Knight).

I know which side my money's on.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Things That Made Me Happy...

...in my comics this week.
I appreciate that in his writing of the Flash character in Justice League, Geoff Johns is trying to split the difference between Barry’s and Wally’s personalities.  It’s not working, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless.
So glad to learn that Element Woman isn’t Urania Blackwell, because, thanks to Neil Gaiman, it’s impossible to read the name “Urania Blackwell” without feeling sad.
Brimstone.  Heh.  Given his original MacGuffin role in Legends many years ago, his on-going status as a shorthand for “off-camera generic monster attacking city” brings a wry smile to my face.
Dang.  Azzarello is going to make me LIKE Orion, isn’t he?  Well done.
The repeated dialog in JLA and Vibe.  Some might call it redundant.  I call it “continuity”.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have confirmed that Human Flying Fish does exist in New52 continuity.  Let the celebrations commence!
Tharok is pretty much single-handedly destroying the United Planets.  THEN, he wakes up the Promethean Giants. And the rest of the Fatal Five hasn’t even started to make trouble. I love the fact that they are even MORE terrifying now than they were when I was a child.
Love that Platinum’s design is a shout-out to Robot Maria.
And that is why Prof Ivo is one of the Justice League’s greatest enemies.
“It’ll be fun” is not a reason Batman does things.
Now THAT is a legitimate reason to slap Wonder Woman in the ass.
The sharks, Vixen, and the ducks.
You know, of all the people I’d allow to play with giant gurgling vats of molten metal, crackpot genius Will Magnus is not on the list.
“I still vote ‘no’.”  Barry Allen can be funny; just not intentionally.
This person is a LOT more interesting than Cindy Reynolds.
I really want an Evil Android Batman in the next Heroclix set.
The fact that the design of the last page of Batwoman is such a dramatic contrast that it hits you like a pie in the face.
If reading the word “responsometer” doesn’t make you smile a little, then you probably shouldn’t be reading DC comics.
So, I guess Nightwing doesn’t really read his evites; or is really stupid.  He’s that guy who unlocks his pics for you on-line and when you ask whether he’s read your profile, he says, “No, why?”
Black Lightning + Blue Devil = bromance.
“One” and “B”.
Oh, I am SO sure Zatanna is happy to be ‘on call’ for Superman anytime. Yeesh, Z; Wonder Woman is RIGHT THERE IN THE ROOM!
So, I guess Maggie said ‘yes’, huh?
“Did you hear that, Aquaman?”  Aquaman is Superman’s closest equal in the League, since he’s basically the Golden Age Superman with added aqua-powers.
“While I’m in there, you want me to fix anything?”  BWAHAHAHA, I love you, J’onn J’onnz, particularly now that you’re being written exactly as creepy and crazy as I’ve always pictured you.
Dang.  Johns is going to make me LIKE Catwoman, isn’t he?  Well done.
Is it just me or it is intentionally hilarious that “It’s so nice to be around professionals for once” is said by someone wearing fishnet to someone wearing fishnet?
But the sad part is: you just know that face is going to fall off at some point.
Hawkman + Vibe = comedy gold.
“What kind of dogs were they?” See, now THAT is Barry Allen.
Hot, hot Vixen-on-Platinum action is definitely a fetish for someone.  Possibly everyone.
“Have a nice day” + skull/n/bones = I love villains who ACT like villains!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Look! Up in the sky!

I have long puzzled over how to represent a 3D fighting space on a 2d Heroclix map. The answer is simple: you can't.

Perhaps that's why I enjoy the challenge.  I can't feel bad if I fail (because it's clearly impossible), and any small success I have in capturing the flavor of 3D action feels ENORMOUS.

Besides, there are some comic books scenes that just demand it.  Villains attack from space.  Or a battle is raging too close to occupied areas and a hero tries to take it up, up, and away from vulnerable civilians and property.  Or someone tries to escape a flying pursuer by darting in and among the maze-like city environment.

Also the perfectly foursquare 'from above' view on all standard Heroclix maps can get boring, since that is not at all how we see the world, even if we are flying above it.

So, here's my latest attempt, titled, "Look, Up in the Sky!"


It works by dividing the map into three sections that function as different "levels" in the 3D arena (those are separate by the fuzzy white boundary lines).  You can move from one to the other but adjacency/line-of-fire (and other game effects, such as Poison, Perplex, Pulse Wave, etc.) do not cross the boundary between sections.  If someone is in another section of the board, you gotta go get 'em, if you want 'em.

The lowest section is full of blocking and hindering terrain (as you would expect).  But no elevated terrain; that would just confuse things.

The middle section has a bit of blocking terrain, representing the tops of skyscrapers.  The sun (well, the sunLIGHT, really, but you get the idea) and some clouds provide hindering terrain.  The second level is restricted to flyers, so the hindering terrain really only hinders their line of fire, not their movement.

The upper section (naturally, also restricted to flyers) is the empty space above the city, where hiding is just not an option.  Oh, since some characters can actually lose the power of flight at certain points on their dial, there is a rule on how to let the figure "fall" back down to the lowest section with a loud "OW!" (represented by three clicks of damage).  

There's a lot of characters that would feel good on this map. The Superman family and foes, of course.  The Lanterns.  The Hawkfolk.  Certain versions of Wonder Woman (particularly with the Invisible Plane). The "Brave & Bold" style Batman with his Batplane.  The Martian Manhunter (particularly if you throw in some sort of 'flaming meteorite' heavy object he's got to stop without getting too close to).

Aquaman and Flash, however, are going to feel a little left out.  But perhaps I can find a way to make it up to them in the future...