ADVANCE REVIEW: DC Comics HeroClix Batman Fast Forces Pack
Six Pack of Modern Bat Family Members...
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2012 is the 10th anniversary of HeroClix, and it’s been quite a year. Players and collectors have seen everything from the debut of Star Trek Tactics to Marvel’s Galactic Guardians and Chaos War, movie sets for Avengers and Dark Knight Rises, the finale of the Infinity Gauntlet tournament series, Assassin’s Creed, DC’s New 52 Justice League, anniversary sets for both Marvel and DC, and more. Coming next month is an all-new DC Comics expansion set focused on everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader: Batman!
The first full DC set in a while, Batman will include a booster lineup of over 50 figures, Super Boosters featuring vehicles from the DC Universe (like the Batmobile, Invisible Jet, tanks, police cars, and more), a “Primer” set of single figure boosters, a marquee figure, and of course a Fast Forces pack. Perfect for new players (and veterans too), Fast Forces sets include six figures with complementary point values so you can easily build a team right out of the box and start playing. The Batman Fast Forces exemplifies the set’s theme with a sextet of “Batman Family” members. With sculpts drawn from the booster and primer sets, these figures have new and different dials for Batman, Damian Wayne, Nightwing, Red Robin, Alfred Pennyworth, and Batgirl plus a brand new double-sided map!
The Batman pack has the same Fast Forces packaging players have come to expect and recognize at their local stores. All six figures are encased in a tall clamshell that can stand up on a shelf or hang from a hook. An insert at the front features Batman and the set’s logo, while the pack’s map and cards are secured in a sleeve behind the figures. The back of the pack has a cool image of Batman and Robin with a brief description of the set and thumbnail images of the maps. In addition to the stated contents you’ll also find inside a code for online content as well as a sheet explaining the basic rules of the game.
The “Batman Family” is generally described as all of those characters who work with or for Batman in and around Gotham City. While it occasionally includes such random characters as the Creeper or Ace the Bat-Hound, the core members are usually considered Bruce Wayne, all Robins (current and former), Batgirls, and of course Alfred. And those are exactly who you’ll find in this Fast Forces pack, all based on their current New 52 incarnations. Damian Wayne, son of Bruce and Talia al Ghul, is the current Robin, while those who were previously sidekicks to Batman include Nightwing (Dick Grayson) and Red Robin (Tim Drake).
DC has returned Batgirl to her roots with Barbara Gordon (daughter of James Gordon), and of course faithful butler and jack-of-all-trades Alfred Pennyworth. While most of these characters have appeared in HeroClix in one way or another before, these are excellent new versions that will make players very happy.
While secretive and mysterious, Batman and his allies are always ready for a fight. In fact, Bruce and his two former partners all feature variations on the same basic pose: leaning forward with one leg leading and arms out to the sides. Batman skulks forward, fists clenched and cape hanging closely around him. The acrobatic Nightwing has an energetic feel moving in a crouch with his arms flung wide, Eskrima sticks held outward. Red Robin adds a twist to the familiar pose, dropping back his right shoulder and fanning out his segmented cape. Young Damian Wayne takes a different tack, leaning out of his flowing cape to throw (or hit someone with) a batarang.
Batgirl too has a very fluid pose, legs and arms bent and ready for sudden movement while her hair and cape whip in an unseen breeze. Finally, the always dutiful Alfred stands at the ready, presenting his master with what appears to be a spare utility belt. All of the poses, costumes, and colors come straight out of the comic books and look really good (especially all of the cape details, Red Robin’s unique costume, and the intent, sneering look on Damian’s face).
While we haven’t seen all of dials for the main Batman booster or primer sets yet, these Fast Forces figures are unique and feature team-building friendly point costs. Similarly to the previous Chaos War pack, the Bat Family range from 25 points for Alfred to Batman at a modest 125. On the other hand, all six of these figures have just the one point value (no multiple starting lines, Alter Ego powers, etc.). While that makes them a little less flexible, it also means they’re more straightforward and accessible to new players. Nightwing and Red Robin form the core of this set, both clocking in at 100 points, while Batgirl and Damian are each 50. Building your team is easy.
Using Batman? Then also grab Alfred and choose one figure at 50 and one at 100 and voila, your 300 point team is done. Alternatively, ditch the old men and play all of the Bat young’uns for another 300 points on the nose. Unfortunately, playing all of the figures together puts you at a less than ideal 450, though that gives you some room to add in another Bat-related character or even some Flocks of Bats to the team.
The really cool thing about Fast Forces is that they present familiar characters in new ways or with unique powers that you don’t see elsewhere. This version of Batman is a perfect example. While most incarnations of Bruce have a mix of close and ranged combat abilities, this one is a ranged powerhouse! With a seven range and two targets plus Running Shot, Sharpshooter, and at least one ranged attack power on every click (Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Energy Explosion, Pulse Wave, and Ranged Combat Expert), this Batman is going to be laying down tremendous fire from stealth thanks to the Batman team ability. He even has Leadership, Outwit, some Probability Control, and a trait that gives him and Catwoman Combat Reflexes when those two are adjacent! Helpful Alfred has a brief four click dial, but Stealth keeps him protected, Willpower keeps him going, and his special power lets him use Support AND throws a defensive buff on the ally he’s just healed; he’s a great nurse for Batman teams especially with so much Leap/Climb to duck out of battle. Batgirl is the only figure with no special powers, though she gets to do a lot with Leap/Climb and Willpower, Running Shot and Incapacitate, Perplex, Combat Reflexes, and end dial Outwit.
Damian Wayne is all close-combat oriented, getting into battle with Charge and then Leap/Climb, then dishing out damage with Blades/Claws/Fangs. He’s protected by Super Senses and Combat Reflexes, and he starts out with a special power that gives him Outwit when adjacent to Red Robin (though Tim has to pay the price). Drake and Grayson are both Indomitable with 6 range and two targets, but feature different team abilities and power sets. Red Robin is a Batman ally with a powerful trait ignoring Shape Change and a slew of powers like Leap/Climb, Charge, Smoke Cloud, Super Senses, Toughness, Outwit, Exploit Weakness, and Close Combat Expert. Nightwing on the other hand is an Outsider starting with Stealth, Combat Reflexes, and an amazing special power called “Charismatic Leader” that lets him use Leadership and remove a token from an adjacent ally no matter its point cost! Dick later cycles through Leap/Climb and Toughness then Flurry and Incapacitate with a long run of Perplex.
If the figures weren’t enough to interest you in this pack, then check out the maps. The main attraction here is “Wayne Manor,” the grand entranceway into Bruce’s home. Players start on either side of the entrance, sequestered in asymmetrical rooms on the second floor. The swanky pad has everything from columns (Blocking) and statues (Hindering) in the foyer to three sets of stairs, all sorts of furniture and entertainment in the rooms, hot tubs, exercise equipment, and more. There are even two special “Bat-pole squares” (secret passageways behind bookcases, of course) that let characters “slide” onto the Batcave map if you’re playing the two of them together!
On the other side is “The Temple,” a serene locale with statues, trees, running water, multiple elevations, and a large interior meditation room. This map is notable for its starting areas: the two adjacent corners opposite the indoor section only eight squares apart!
Players and collectors alike have been anxiously awaiting the return of DC Comics HeroClix in general and Batman in particular, but WizKids has gone above and beyond with this Fast Forces pack. The figures are all very playable and a lot of fun, and the maps are must-haves for any player. This Batman pack is scheduled to hit comic book and game stores everywhere on November 14th, the same day as the full booster set (the primer set should hit on Halloween to build excitement). As always, since you can actually see the Fast Forces figures in the package you should find the best ones with regards to any bent plastic or paint errors, but judging from this set you shouldn’t have any problems. It may be dysfunctional, but Batman’s Family is a lot of fun!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of WizKids Games