Yes, I ran them again, in another 900 point game (as in Chapter 4 of this post):

V Starhawk 144 + Spotter 5
Phyla-Vell 138 + Protected 8
LE One-Who-Knows 123
Star-Lord 90
+ Protected 8
V Major Victory 84 + Contingency Plan 12
Rocket Raccoon 65
Yondu 53
+ AP 10
R Aleta 51
Bug 44

+ Warbound (Guardians of the Galaxy) 45
Lila Cheney 6
Lila Cheney 6
=900 points.

FIRST, I faced Andy’s Infinity Watch themed team on the Asgard map: Thanos (Supernova), Adam Warlock (Secret Invasion) + Brilliant Tactician, E Drax the Destroyer, Moondragon (Hammer of Thor), Gamora and Pip the Troll. He used Cosmic Interference Field to kill my Barrier ability, and I didn’t bother to theme-cancel it.

I would regret this.

Landed some solid hits on Thanos in spite of Adam Warlock’s boosting defenses +2 with Brilliant Tactician (a tactic I hadn’t realized he could do with his special power “Him”). But Thanos landed his own hits back in return, and I was never able to finish the mad Titan. Same went for Moondragon, who was hit hard but never eliminated. KO’d Drax but lost Rocket, One-Who-Knows, Yondu and someone else, I think. 0-1.

SECOND match was against Chadd’s Avengers: Dr. Strange (Secret Invasion)+Brilliant Tactician, Captain America (Hammer of Thor), Thor  (Hammer of Thor), U Iron Man  (Mutations & Monsters), Ms. Marvel (Secret Invasion) and Hercules (Secret Invasion). He picked the Arkham Asylum map, not realizing it’d hinder Cap’s effectiveness.

Frightened of all that Running Shot, I proceeded to build Barrier after Warbound-juiced Barrier* between shots with Starhawk (love that 12 range) until the final moments of the game, when Chadd finally quit hiding behind his own walls and took some shots on my barely-exposed team. In the end, though, there were zero KOs. Chadd conceded the match to me since I’d dealt nearly all the damage (Cap was on his final click and Ms. Marvel was on her last Toughness click).

FINAL: 1-1. Not too bad, actually. Maybe would’ve done better had I been able to use a Barrier once or twice (or three times thrice :p ) in the first game to hold off Thanos. BFC cancel FAIL. But I really didn’t mind losing to a proper Infinity Watch team.

* I got some flak for my infinite Barrier action, but considering I was up against four move-attackers, each (thanks to a Brilliant Tactician) able to hit my no-damage-reducers-on-top-dial team for at least 4 clicks from more than 10 squares out? Um, yeah. I’m gonna fight that crew on my terms, thanks.

I am sick of the increasing darkness in modern comics of recent years. So the promise of, if not lighter, at least more heroic fare in Marvel Comics is very welcome in this reader's eyes.

As a HeroClixer, I’m always inspired to make teams based on comics. So when I saw this promo art, I immediately started team-building and ran it only a few days later in an 800-point tournament (from right to left):

Gorilla-Man 61
V Black Widow (Ultimates) 59
Benjamin J. Grimm (Secret Invasion) 100
V Beast (Mutations & Monsters) 73
U Hawkeye (Avengers) 56 + Alpha Flight 0
Captain America (Hammer of Thor) 72 + Alpha Flight 0
Thor (Hammer of Thor) 226
Spider-Man (Secret Invasion) 50
U Iron Man (Mutations & Monsters) 100 + Alias 3

= 800 points.

ROUND ONE: Cosmic Clash! starring Silver Surfer (Avengers), Firelord (Avengers), Stardust (Avengers) and Air-Walker.

No Battlefield Conditions used on the Junkyard map. The player was a bit reckless, immediately pushing to KO Black Widow in a single turn. That left him unable to respond as my whole team attempted to pound his with Running Shots. Aside from some odd misses on Thor’s part (two crits?), it was a very systematic takedown. Wiped his team with Widow being my only loss. 1-0.

ROUND TWO: Siege of Asgard? starring Namor (Secret Invasion), Arkillo, The Riddler (Arkham Asylum), Green Arrow (Justice League), White Martian, Hercules (Secret Invasion) and Iron Fist (Secret Invasion).

This match so named because of my opponent Stephen’s choice of the Rainbow Bridge map, early in it my Running Shots were miserable failures (though not critical) and it seemed I might be heading for a slow loss. But a timely Alias roll saved Iron Man’s Invincible click and soon I started landing attacks while Stephen missed many of his (most notably Namor’s Charge+Flurry on Ben Grimm). KO’d Hercules, Namor and Iron Fist, losing only Alias. 2-0.

ROUND THREE: When Cheese Goes Bad, starring V M’onel, Ms. Marvel (Secret Invasion B) + Protected, Batman (Justice League common) + Protected, Nightshade (x2, one + Armor Piercing), Spider-Man (Secret Invasion) + Vault (x2), Dawnstar, Gee.

Player Charlie freely admitted this was a total cheese team, mitigated only by the lack of Probability Control or Perplex to really make it stinky. So after completely dragging the first teams he faced in the tournament, he took it completely in stride when V M’onel’s Hypersonic alpha strike  with a Meteorite critically missed. He didn’t roll much better all game long (calling it karma for his cheese), which saved Thor by a hair and got me the victory. I’d KO’d Batman, a Nightshade and both Protected feats while losing only Alias.

FINAL: 3-0.

To be a team just tossed together from a piece of promotional art, it performs surprisingly well together! Gorilla-Man is a great tie-up piece for the shooters, being highly survivable on his own. V Black Widow was key to the last win by seeing through Stealth (and loaning the Ultimates TA to Spidey for same). Benjamin J. Grimm provided the additional punching power this otherwise range-heavy team needed. (I selected Grimm over the similarly capable Thing from Secret Invasion because of his Indomitable adding to his ability to press the attack. His trait could also have been useful to give Spider-Man, a fellow Fantastic Four keyword-bearing piece, a damage reduction, though it never came up.) Beast was brilliant as mobile Perplex, of course, and a simple push would provide Outwit if needed.

Avengers Hawkeye, a piece I’ve never respected before (due to his unusable-with-Running Shot SP), proved to be a key extra attacker; when the high AV shooters missed easy shots, the law of averages would make his pithy 9 AV an improbable hit. More importantly, his starting 3 damage made sure it was an effective hit.

Cap and Thor, as evidenced by my recent Top Ten list, were a great tag team of shooting (even though, as I implied above, some of my dice rolls with them weren’t so hot); the latter was the main damager while the former made the sneakier shots needed against targets the thunder god couldn’t reach.

M+M U Iron Man I selected not only because his 100-point cost is slim enough for the build, but also because this new armor should not have the Extremis powers the excellent 188-point Secret Invasion piece does. (I put Alias on him to represent some sort of holographic misdirection.) His SHIELD TA was highly useful because he usually taxied Spider-Man around. The wild card then frequently copied SHIELD TA to boost Tony’s damage. That’s when he wasn’t using the original Avengers TA to help deploy, or to potentially heal or be healed via X-Men or Fantastic Four TA. I’ve already mentioned him using Ultimates.

This is a perfect team for me. It’s theme-y and powerful without being terribly un-fun to play against or too complicated to use effectively. What do you think?

"Wu-Tang AGAIN!?" "Awww yeah, again and again!"

Seriously, it seems I’m always pulling them out. Maybe it’s because even though I tend to try teams that are more comic-accurate than not, their membership has shifted around so much that practically any configuration feels more than plausible.
Maybe it’s because I have yet to use all the available characters to the theme. (I just recently reacquired, for example, One Who Knows, the Limited Edition version of Starhawk.)
Maybe it’s just because I like the title so much; writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s work has so improved since their days on the Legion of Super-Heroes (where they started out superb and petered out to a mediocre end).
Maybe it’s because two of the main members made my Top Ten HeroClix of 2009 list, and I like for my theme-y teams to be at least a little competitive.
Or maybe it’s because I love Phyla-Vell so much, even though she did NOT make the Top Ten list.
Perhaps the biggest reason lately is probably the double-fisted cosmic FAIL I had with the team recently.
Whatever the reason, they tend to hit my table (or at least my planning pad) on any build total over 400 points.
Chapter 1.
SCENARIO: 700 points, 50% Floor Hammer of Thor:
V Starhawk 144 + Spotter 5
Phyla-Vell 138 + Protected 8
Star-Lord 90 + Contingency Plan 12 + Inside Information 4
E Vance Astro 70 + Ambidexterous 16
Rocket Raccoon 65
Yondu 53
R Aleta 51
Bug 44
= 700 points.
I found myself facing, first round, this team:
Thor & Loki 362 + Immortal Contempt 10 + Sidestep 10 + two more feats I can’t recall. Surprisingly not Protected or Thunderbolts, though.
Sif 93
Asgardian Warrior 37
Asgardian Warrior 37
Asgardian Warrior 37
Asgardian Warrior 37
Asgardian Warrior 37
Yeah, pretty daunting. He won map and picked the Lab. This caused problems:
1) Not much room to use my several ranged attackers.
2) I put a Dynamostat in a spot that’d hinder eventual Running Shots as effectively as it might’ve slowed down Thor & Loki.
3) I failed to tie up the big duo opponent with the 44-point Bug, allowing them to rather freely beat my 138+ point heavy hitting into near-death (again, thanks to the close quarters). Game-breaking FAIL, there.
I managed to KO four of the five Warriors and Sif, but lost Phyla-Vell, Yondu, Vance Astro, Bug, and Star-Lord. 0-1.
2nd match was against a young lad running
Thor (Hammer of Thor)
Asgardian Warrior
I picked the Junkyard. This was a careful tactical match where I was oh-so-careful to keep all adjacent for the Resistance BFC. The Spotter feat was invaluable to help shots on Thor while the hindering terrain kept Balder out of the fight. Having learned my lesson in the earlier game, I totally used Bug to keep Odin occupied long enough to lay enough damage on Thor to send the thunderer running. But although run he did, I was able to chase him down in the end for the win, adding him to the Asgardian Warrior I’d notched earlier. I’d lost Bug, Yondu and Rocket. 1-1.
Finally I faced judge Brian on his Asgard map:
Fenris Wolf
Ronan the Accuser (Hammer of Thor)
Enchantress (Hammer of Thor)
Fire Demon
I scored an early crippling shot on his Phyla that set the game inexorably in my favor. Although I took plenty of damage, having:
  • a medic in Starhawk,
  • Prob Control in Rocket (which absolutely saved Star-Lord, mid-game) and
  • the Defenders TA shoring up the woundeds’ DVs deep into the game (which made Brian’s mediocre die rolls miss more than not)
made the difference. Wiped his whole team and lost none.
WIN/LOSS: 2-1. You’d think I’d be satisfied with that record, especially after the terrible mental error of failing to use a tie-up figure as just that. But no, I wasn’t.

How did I forget hair (and cleavage) THIS big???

The presence of a figure that not only bears the Telekinesis power, but Barrier as well would have TOTALLY changed the complexion of the Thor & Loki fight, giving me first strike options, a chance to avoid retaliation, or to pull the wounded out for healing…
Already outgunned by far, I was playing with a handicap even greater than her 51 points represented.
Chapter 2.
So when I learned my next tournament was 500 points, this was the team I fielded, ready to redeem my bad performance:
Phyla-Vell 138
Star-Lord 90 + Inside Information 4
V Major Victory 84
Rocket Raccoon 65
R Aleta 51
Bug 44
+ Guardians of the Galaxy 24
= 500 points. Trying out the team’s alternate team ability. It hurts the normally Power Cosmic Phyla-Vell a bit, robbing her of her pushing ability, but frankly, pushing to her Hypersonic clicks might be worth it.
FIRST faced Vic on the Space map: Scientists Mr. Fantastic (Secret Invasion) + Brilliant Tactician, Hulkbuster, Living Laser, Rip Hunter.
He played Disruption while I placeholdered. Scored an early hit on Living Laser with Star-Lord. But that was the extent of my KOs while Mr. Fantastic boosted all others to top form, costing me Bug, Star-Lord and the Major. Disruption truly, truly cost me as it kept me from attacking much at all. I really should have killed that card with my theme team cancel (which I ended up not using at all). Another big fat tactical FAIL0-1.

THEN I faced Lenny, again on the Space map: Marvel Knights Power Man & Iron Fist, Daredevil (Hammer of Thor), Elektra (Secret Invasion), Shang-Chi, Cloak & Dagger (Secret Invasion).
I used a similar strategy as last time, since it was the BFC that beat me more than anything. The Accelerator gave Star-Lord another quick strike to nerf Elektra and Shang-Chi early on. He paid dearly, getting clocked hard by Power Man and Iron Fist within an inch of his life. Fortunately, I’d declared he’d take Combat Reflexes knock back and, even more fortuitously, the path took him directly between his teammates and out of retaliatory range.
I used Bug to tie up DD, Cloak & Dagger and Elektra from taking shots at Rocket on the building, but I mis-positioned, giving Power Man & Iron Fist easy Charge access to him. Bug still ate up seven attack rolls before going down — mission accomplished.
Now Lenny tried to hunt down Star-Lord trying to heal on the Vine, but Aleta was able to jank him away with TK back to my starting area, and then again to the back of the map when DD chased him further for a “saved by the bell” win having KO’d Elektra and lost only Bug. 1-1.
FINALLY I faced young Donovan (last seen here in the Runaways battle royale) on the Days of Future Past map; he ran Thor (Hammer of Thor), Malekith, Heimdall.
He’s gotten better with the rules and came close to beating me thanks to several Super Senses hits with Heimdall. But once I concentrated fire on Thor, I was able to wear him down and got both the Asgardians, losing Star-Lord and Bug for my part.
WIN/LOSS: 2-1. Again, I come away unsatisfied, because I played with such a handicap in the first round by letting Disruption stand. Sure, I hoped to save my cancel for a more injurious card, but really. Another FAIL, another pointless loss.
Chapter 3.
Next game: a 500-point floor event.
Phyla-Vell 138 + Protected 8
One Who Knows 123 + Protected 8
Star-Lord 90 + Contingency Plan 12 + Alias 3
Rocket Raccoon 65
R Aleta 51
= 498 points.
FIRST round was again against Vic. He had a pretty min-maxed team of Phyla-Vell and Kurse + Lunge with AA Zoom and Moonstone, most with In Contact With Oracle (ICWO) equipped. I picked the BPRD water map to slow down Zoom. Can’t recall what BFC I used, if any.
So, let’s see. I’m playing Guardians of the Galaxy again, right? So it must be time for another cosmic FAIL.
This time, after picking the water map for the express purpose of keeping Zoom from using Hypersonic Speed to Flurry me, I fly One Who Knows and Aleta both to land, where a taxied Zoom could easily use Hypersonic Speed to Flurry One Who Knows for an immediate crippling.
Seriously. Why did I DO that? I just don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Shorn of my main hitter, I got wiped. No KOs. 0-1.
SECOND round. I faced Lenny on his Avengers tank base map and his stupid stealth team of Captain America (Hammer of Thor) + Thunderbolts + Contingency Plan, Daredevil (Hammer of Thor) + Stunning Blow, Gamora + Protected, SI Iron Fist + Lunge and at least 4 Hand Ninjas. I opted not to use my theme team cancel, letting his Deep Shadows stand, reasoning that it’d force Cap to come close instead of hiding behind the tank. What I didn’t hear the very soft-spoken Lenny say was that Cap was picking Batman Ally via Thunderbolts. Helloooo, perma-Stealth.
So. I only had two legal targets at any given time with my range-focused team, and both were kept well behind a Stealth wall. And then, thanks to a C.Plan boost to Daredevil’s range, Aleta got hit off Telekinesis, killing my team’s ability to actually reach said targets. Thanks to my self-imposed utter inability to actually, y’know, FIGHT, I lost all but Phyla and KO’d none.
FINAL: 0-2. Not one, but TWO huge FAILs, and one a total repeat of the one before (failing to use the themed team BFC cancel).
“Disgusted” isn’t strong enough a word. My performance makes me want to puke on myself. Heck, I’d be less disgusted if other people puked on me.
Chapter 4.
Therefore, I build one more GotG team, for a 900-point tournament:
V Starhawk 144 + Spotter 5
Phyla-Vell 138 + Protected 8
LE One Who Knows 123
Star-Lord 90
+ Protected 8
V Major Victory 84 + Contingency Plan 12
Rocket Raccoon 65
Yondu 53
+ AP 10
R Aleta 51
Bug 44
+ Warbound (Guardians of the Galaxy) 45
Lila Cheney 6
Lila Cheney 6
=900 points. I have just one opponent: Lenny and his Sinestro Corps:
Superman Prime 318 + Fortitude 25 + Protected 8
SR Sinestro 146
Arkillo 126
Lyssa Drak 72
Amon Sur 70
Yellow Lantern 65
AA Manhunter 64
I picked the Danger Room outdoor map to make sure I could best use my range advantage. But Lenny found a way to bunker up really well and give his crew a safe zone to TK from. I still got early (though unsuccessful) shots on Yellow Lantern to remove the Defend threat. Wasted several theme PCs trying to get Yondu’s Armor Piercing Energy Explosion to land and tag Yellow Lantern, Arkillo, Amon Sur and Superbrat clustered together. Finally had to push to do it.
Meanwhile, Phyla got crithit by Sinestro, and I didn’t bother to Protect the shot away, preferring her Hypersonic Speed to her Perplex. That was a mistake.
What wasn’t a mistake was One Who Knows flying to cover her, Warbounding the token to his taxied pal Rocket Raccoon, then attacking Sinestro from 12 squares out (thanks, Contingency Plan!) next turn and using Barrier to defend the pushed Yondu incessantly with Warbound.
Lenny wasn’t taking another shot from Starhawk AND One Who Knows. TKing Arkillo, he Charged (and missed) Starhawk, safely out of the PCers’ line of fire. But there he’d stay, failing breakaway rolls again and again.
After taking another Energy Explosion from Yondu, Superbrat was pinged off HSS and had to make a TK-assisted Charge on me, forcing Star-Lord to burn Protected. Phyla pushed to HSS Superbrat for 4, but that left her way open to his successful break away to ChargeFlurry her to death (with Protected unusable) and Star-Lord deep into his dial. That left Superbrat pushed…and vulnerable to a swarming KO, unable to use Protected!
Sadly, I went one missed attack from achieving that easy KO.
Lenny kept taking shots to KO Star-Lord (who, with his bare 17 DV, was definitely the easiest shot to take) while I kept trying to finish Superbrat and Sinestro (who’d joined him), leaving Star-Lord open to these shots. Eventually, the sheer number of die rolls got Superman Prime to KO (Bug, TKed by Aleta, scored the winning shot) and One Who Knows finally taxied Star-Lord to the safety of hindering terrain before his luck ran out.
From there it was clean-up, as Lenny’d lost pretty much all his hitters. Amon, Yellow and Lyssa were all now wounded and Arkillo couldn’t break away ever. Wiped the Sinestro Corps and lost only a Lila, a Protected feat and Phyla.

Current GotG record: 12-9.

I may give it a rest for a while, now. But don’t be surprised if you see them in this space again soon. This record should be a bit better…or, at least, I shouldn’t be so at fault for the losses.
LESSONS LEARNED from this less-organized continuation of the Guardians of the Galaxy campaign:
  • Warbound on One-Who-Knows and Rocket Raccoon and Aleta and Bug is pretty broken. It’s a good thing the feat eats up so much point room.
  • Use my stinkin’ theme team BFC cancel if the enemy’s BFC hurts me even a little. Does no good to save it for later if I never win into the later rounds!
  • Pick my terrain carefully and use it correctly. I did this horribly on the water map and pretty well in the last game.
  • Remember that Stealth is no help against Pulse Wave! I forgot this in the Deep Shadow’d match.

Every year, there’s always a piece or three (or ten or more) that ALMOST makes the cut, but some slight flaw squeezes it off the list. Let’s see what slid off mine.
He won consideration due to his opening Hypersonic Speed, excellent AV and Power Cosmic. His low damage and poor defense for his cost lost him his spot. A solidly Invulnerable middle and lots of Hypersonic and Regen almost won it back; he’s a difficult piece to pin down and finish off!
Beta Ray Bill
He won consideration due to his opening Running Shot, excellent AV with high damage and solid defense. But a run of low-DV Super Senses mid-life kills his Top 10 aspirations despite a late-dial upswing in AV and the return of Running Shot.
As costly a piece as can be currently run under 300 points and still have room for feats, Odin is mighty indeed. Outwit, Power Cosmic, very high defenses and attack to start unfortunately give way to all-too-soft Super Senses in the middle. This pudgy underbelly undermines Odin’s otherwise deadly and resilient dial and costs him a place in the Top Ten.
One of the game’s best taxis thanks to her “no-Carry-penalty” SP, being a minion-activator and a Super-Strong fighter, she’s a great piece for under 100 points. If she’d had move+attack ability or even Indomitable, she’d certainly have made the list.
Thor & Loki
This duo figure is absolute death against many teams thanks to titanic damage and the ability to use Thunderbolts and either hide in the shadows (Bat Ally) or double up on Mystics retaliation (by picking either Crossgen or Arachnos). Unfortunately, one of their SPs kills their range attacks, making them highly vulnerable to the game’s best Hypersonic bricks. Unforgiveable at their highest-cost-yet price point.
With a DV topping out at a rather putrid 15, one may wonder how Ulik even makes the also-ran list. Answer: because of his Outwit- and Pulse Wave-proof defense power that reduces damage dealt to just 1. Unless the enemy is dealing penetrating damage like Exploit Weakness or Psychic Blast, or using the Meteorite, Ulik can absorb a lot of attacks. Meanwhile, he’s dealing as much as 6 damage per hit and never less than 3 with very high AV. But the low DV and the fact that he takes a click from even peons’ attacks hold him back.
Every year there’s a truly deserving piece that gets knocked off for lack of space. This time it was because I was pretty enamored of the generics who, in retrospect, should have probably shared an entry. (Honestly, I wonder if maybe I haven’t overrated them a tad, since they won’t be quite as superb without their leaders. But…I digress.)
So. Like I did with Gamora last year, feel free to drop your least favorite of my Top Ten pick and replace it with:
wing & indomitable symbols
174 points
Team: none
Keywords: Cosmic, Masters of Evil, Robot, Ruler
Range: 12 x 1
STRENGTHS: 12 range, 12 AV, 12 Speed with Charge, 4 damage, Impervious and Pulse Wave. And he’s indomitable, costing well under 200 points. Any questions?
Well, OK, there’s Outwit on clicks 2-4 should he get hit to those. Mid-dial, he can shunt damage off to subordinates with Mastermind while using “Transfer Essence” (Mind Control that doesn’t take feedback from controlling Armor or Robots) or Psychic Blast. Late-dial, Running Shot makes a reappearance along with Regeneration to give him a second wind.
WEAKNESSES: Aside from his leading 3 Impervious clicks, he’s devoid of damage reduction…could be a problem. Energy Explosion is kinda pointless.

CARDS TO CONSIDER: FORTITUDE might be extra-necessary on Ultron as he cannot afford to lose ANY of his defensive powers…ever! Because he has the indomitable ability, he can totally ignore the pushing damage NOVA BLAST usually causes. AUTOMATIC REGENERATION is probably a good fit, too, so he doesn’t have to waste actions trying to heal and can instead continue eradication of all flesh!!!!!!!…in HeroClix.

IN SUM: Able to deal hurt from extreme range or in close with Charge or medium range with Pulse Wave, Ultron is the total tentpole package.

SR Loki
This is another piece that could have scratched a spot on the top 10. Stealth + Mastermind is a superb combination, one that various version of Doctor Doom have been lauded for since the early days of HeroClix. And Loki does it a bit better with his special 4-square Mastermind. He also gains a solid defense in mid-dial Invulnerability, getting the best out of his Mystics TA. It’s his utter lack of move+attack powers or Willpower that hold him back from being among the best. At his price point, he needs to be more actively fighting and less supportive.
The Warriors Three: Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg.
Sporting 11 AV and 18 DV with Invulnerability or better on their first clicks for around 100 points each, the members of this trio are pretty solid alone. However, they work best in a group so their shared Trait can supercharge their AVs to can’t-miss 13s, and they’re highly vulnerable to ranged fighters.
That wraps up my look back at 2009’s top pieces. Look for a big sequel to my Guardians of the Galaxy campaign very soon and then resumption of the event dial series!

…and the number one figure of Hammer of Thor is the one who wields said hammer:
wing symbol
226 points
Team: none
Keywords: Asgardian, Avengers, Deity, Warrior
Range: 10 x 2
STRENGTHS: Running Shot + 10 range, 2 targets and 5 damage. Indomitable means he doesn’t have to stop shooting just ’cause he has one token. Any questions?
Well, there’s also his opening 12 AV and 18 DV and uncounterable Super Strength trait (which means whoever bases him, trying to stop him from blasting will take even more damage from the heavy object he’ll be toting). He’s loaded with Invulnerability. He can deal 4+ damage on every click and has some form of move-attack for his first 2/3 of life. Ending with an AV/damage surge with Exploit Weakness is just horrible news for anyone basing him.
WEAKNESSES: Lack of Impervious is a bit unusual at his price point, and his dial is slender for the cost.
CARDS TO CONSIDER: FORTITUDE forces foes to dig through all those Invulnerability clicks. PROTECTED is the bargain alternative and is always good for Indomitable characters. Because he’s usually going to be fighting at extreme range, try CONTINGENCY PLAN to give his teammates and Minions timely stat boosts.
IN SUM: This is the Thor fans have waited for…one that lays down the hammer without being a low-defense damage magnet. Top piece of the set.
Now that the top 10 list is done, be here next week for those Honorable Mentions that just missed (or, in some opinions, should have made) the list!

“When blood is shed, let the Staff of One emerge.”
Nico Minoru
boot symbol
84 points
Team: none
Keywords: Mystical, Runaways, Teen
Range: 8 x 1
STRENGTHS: It’s all about “Staff of One,” the Special Power that can be ANY power…any power that appears on the Powers and Abilities Chart (PAC) that she didn’t use last turn, that is. This makes her the absolute most versatile character in HeroClix.
Need some mobility for your team? Pick Telekinesis. Need an enemy power countered? Outwit. Need to push her to get out of the line of fire? Willpower. She already have two tokens and can’t move or act? Impervious. Afraid of getting Psychic Blasted? Energy Shield/Deflection. Got an opportunity to blast a weakened foe? Ranged Combat Expert. Need to heal a pal? Support. Need to help a fellow medic’s Support roll actually work? Probability Control.
And so on. Nico’s AWESOME.
WEAKNESSES: Aside from a pair of 9 AVs on top, all her numbers are absolutely sub-par–she’s got the stats of a piece less than half her cost.
CARDS TO CONSIDER: CONTINGENCY PLAN, first and foremost. Saves her from having to use a power on boosting her attack or range. ARMOR PIERCING also helps her low, low damage. And, if she’s with any of her keyword mates, RUNAWAYS is a fit. And, given how weak she is without Staff of One, FORTITUDE might be an apt investment.
But also note this: at least until the next set of rules appear in May 2010’s Blackest Night starter set, she can be equipped with almost any feat in the game because she can use any power in the game. Pretty much the only ones she’s denied are feats that trigger off symbols she lacks.
Only a few feats really make sense to use, though. AUTOMATIC REGENERATION is an excellent choice for her to get up to two shots at healing the turn she picks the prerequisite power. And either MENTAL SHIELDS or COMPEL are great if you plan to use Mind Control. But…why would you plan to use Mind Control with so many other powers to pick from?
IN SUM: Last year, The Chief made #1 on my top 10 list of 2008 for his versatility. Nico blows him away in that department.
Yet she’s only #2 for 2009. Who’s the number one piece in Hammer of Thor? Hmmm…

The Sentinel of Liberty returns to HeroClix with his best sculpt ever!

All those who oppose this shield must yield.

Captain America
boot symbol
72 points
Team: Avengers
Keywords: Avengers, Martial Artist, SHIELD, Soldier
Range: 8 x 2
STRENGTHS: Aside from an excellent Running Shot speed, good damage and stellar 18 DV + Energy Shield/Deflection, Cap seems a bit of a disappointment until you note his special power “Deflection Trajectory.” Only walls and indoor blocking terrain block his line of fire. This means he can shoot:
  • past characters, friend or foe (take that, Sharpshooters)
  • around buildings
  • from the middle of a roof to the ground, or vice versa
  • at Stealthed characters
  • at characters using the Camouflage feat(!)
  • through Barrier(!!)
This one power makes Cap an indispensable piece.
Fortunately for foes, he can’t shoot when based (“nyah, nyah” taunt the Sharpshooters like Star-Lord and Arkham Asylum’s Hitman) and the power’s gone from mid-dial on, anyhow. That’s when he shifts to Willpower and Close Combat Expert, which is highly unfortunate for whomever based him. Great keywords and economical cost means he can show up on a lot of teams.
WEAKNESSES: Although hard to hit, he’s a very soft target with a pretty short dial and a very large bull’s eye on his head. He’s also a fair bit less effective on indoor maps.
CARDS TO CONSIDER: Because he’s able to fight from behind cover and characters alike, he’s a key candidate for CONTINGENCY PLAN. FORCE FIELD can lengthen his life ever so slightly. DAMAGE SHIELD also works his whole dial. THUNDERBOLTS, ALPHA FLIGHT and PYM PARTICLES  are made for Avengers.
IN SUM: “Deflection Trajectory” is one of those Special Powers that make one question the wisdom of their creation. It’s so broadly powerful that it threatens to make Cap one of those crutch pieces run by players who can’t quite master the normal rules and tactics of the game and thus turn to the same few game-bending figures, feats and battlefield conditions to shift the meta-game in their favor. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a top piece of the year and will be a staple on top teams for some time.
And yet his isn’t the best SP of all time. #2 has that one…

From the pages of Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers comes the #4 piece…
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73 points
Team: none
Keywords: Celebrity, Thunderbolts
Range: 4 x 1
STRENGTHS: Not just his opening click, but his whole half-dial sports this killer power combo: Plasticity, Blades/Claws/Fangs, Super Senses and Shape Change. Added to his Leap/Climb trait and steady 9 AV, and you’ve got a piece that can get in the enemy’s face and keep them tied down there and avoid attacks while dealing its own.
The back half of the dial shifts to four more identical clicks: Flurry, Steal Energy, Combat Reflexes and Battle Fury. And with 10 AV, Venom has a fine chance of remaining on the field for some time.
WEAKNESSES: His initial base damage is a bit low at 2, but that’s more than mitigated by BCF. Battle Fury prevents him from being hauled off to the medic in a desperate situation. He’s quite expensive for his chief role as tie-up. His keywords are pretty thin, too.
CARDS TO CONSIDER: Venom is incredibly feat-friendly. Start with LUNGE to give him more flexibility in attacking swarms he’s tied up. Or consider POUNCE to give his initial tie-up move some bite (his 2nd click being identical to the first doesn’t hurt). Attack avoidance cards like CAMOUFLAGE vs. range or ENTANGLE vs. close attacks are tempting, but I wouldn’t go with both. TAKEDOWN is beyond awesome on him.
IN SUM: He’s the ultimate tie-up piece, bar none. Only the Clayfaces come close, and Venom’s amazing mobility leaves them in the dirt.
#3 is as good as Venom is bad…

The shining king of Asgard is the first of the top five of 2009.

He'll CUTCHOO, man!!

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130 points
Team: none
Keywords: Asgardian, Deity, Warrior
Range: 0 x 1
STRENGTHS: Impervious for his first FOUR CLICKS? That hasn’t happened since Cosmic Justice, and Balder’s the cheapest costing piece with this combo by far. Charge, Close Combat Expert and a high AV round out his opening strengths, making him highly pushable. Mid-dial he shifts to Blades/Claws/Fangs (with a click of overlap with Exploit Weakness!) and Invulnerability before weakening to Toughness but gaining an AV spike. There’s also a Special Power granting Pulse Wave for a possible surprise range strike.
WEAKNESSES: Um…his speed might be a little low. Otherwise, I got nothin’.
CARDS TO CONSIDER: LUNGE gives his initial Charge that extra bit of range on his first two clicks (or to enable him to change targets if based). He’s cheap enough that he doesn’t need FORTITUDE just to protect your investment yet adding it won’t break you.
IN SUM: A fantastic piece that can either serve as a cheap tentpole or a secondary fighter in a larger game.
#4 is as dark as Balder is light…

He’s called the Human Robot, but there are no fleshy bits in the #6 HeroClix figure of 2009.


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59 points
Team: none
Keywords: Agents of Atlas, Robot
Range: 6 x 1
STRENGTHS: Unrelenting 3 damage for his WHOLE DIAL. 10 AV for his first SEVEN CLICKS. 18 DV and Super Strength for three clicks. Willpower for FIVE. And Regeneration the rest to potentially heal back up to his 2nd click. Psychic Blast through his mid-dial makes him deadly at range. For less than 60 points, he’s an awesome package.
WEAKNESSES: With zero damage reduction and no movement powers, M-11 is a soft, slow target.
CARDS TO CONSIDER: With so much Willpower, either OPPORTUNIST or PROTECTED are excellent fits. NANOARMOR helps mitigate big hits with enemy Super Strength. AUTOMATIC REGENERATION is choice in case he actually takes a hit.
IN SUM: Though he has his soft points, they’re easily worked around. M-11 is as good a mid-point fighter as you can ask for in HeroClix.
Next week, it’s on to the top five! This weekend, though, enjoy something from my “regular programming”… :)