ADVANCE REVIEW: DC Comics HeroClix Streets of Gotham Fast Forces Pack
Six Pack of Birds of Prey Ready to Rescue Gotham...
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Batman fans have had plenty to enjoy in HeroClix at the end of 2012 with the full expansion set by his name, and the fun continues this month with the new Batman: Streets of Gotham countertop set! With over 40 figures in single figure boosters and three figure “team packs,” a Fast Forces set, and more, “Streets” is also the second major component in the current No Man’s Land tournament series. Today we’ll be taking a look at the upcoming set’s 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 Streets of Gotham Fast Forces brings together the group of heroes known as the Birds of Prey! With sculpts drawn from the new set (and the DC 10th Anniversary set in the case of one figure), these figures have new and different dials for Oracle, Lady Blackhawk, Huntress, Black Canary, Hawk, and Dove, plus a brand new double-sided map!
The Streets of Gotham 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 Black Canary and the set’s logo, while the pack’s map and cards are secured in a sleeve behind the figures. The side of the pack has artwork showing off more of the team, while the back panel features all six in a cool action shot. At the bottom is a brief description of the set along with 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 first Birds of Prey team appeared in comics in 1995 when Oracle, Barbara Gordon, partnered with Black Canary, Dinah Lance. As time went on they would work with a variety of other superheroes with an all-female roster (and some occasional male guest appearances). Gordon, the original Batgirl, had a number of years back been shot by Joker and partially paralyzed; she reinvented herself as the master of information Oracle, dispensing orders and intel from Gotham’s clocktower building. Her partner Dinah Lance is the second “Black Canary,” and besides her sonic scream power is a highly trained martial artist. Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, is another Gotham City vigilante whom even Batman has considered too violent in the past. A woman displaced in time, Lady Blackhawk (Zinda Blake) was the first female member of the World War II ace pilot unit. In the present she was recruited by Oracle because of her piloting AND fighting abilities. Finally, Hawk (Hank Hall) and Dove (Dawn Granger) are a superhero duo imbued with powers by the mysterious Lords of Chaos and Order. Serving on the Birds of Prey, Hawk would become the first official male member of the team.
With their vastly different backgrounds, powers, and fighting styles, these six Birds of Prey are all quite unique in appearance. Oracle sits at her command center in casual clothing, wheelchair pulled up to a keyboard with five computer screens above it. Look closely to see the details of her yellow computer glasses and microphone headset, as well as all of the interesting things displayed on her screens. Black Canary takes a martial arts pose, crouched low and turned to the side with fists at the ready. Her bright blonde hair (dyed) contrasts nicely with her glossy black bodysuit and fishnets.
Lady Blackhawk, giving a saucy salute with her other hand on her hip, is dressed in a feminine version of the iconic Blackhawks uniform consisting of a buttoned up jacket, short skirt, boots, gloves, and military cap. Huntress stands straight as an arrow with her head turned and arm upraised to shoot her mini crossbow. Her unique purple, black, and white costume is very detailed with multiple belts and pouches, textured gloves and boots, tall pointed mask, and a cape floating behind her. Hawk and Dove are as different as their namesakes, Hank foreboding with his arms crossed as he tries to keep his anger in check and Dawn leaping into the fray to protect innocents. Their costumes reflect their differences as well, hers in pale blue and white with a fringed collar/cape and his in white and red with jagged edges and long tendrils over his shoulders.
Building a Birds of Prey HeroClix team is a snap with this Fast Forces set. Huntress, Black Canary, Hawk, and Dove are each 100 points, while Oracle and Lady Blackhawk are both 50. Need a hard-hitting 300 point team? Grab Hawk, Dove, and Black Canary. Or switch out Canary for Huntress to boost your range. Oracle and Lady Blackhawk present you with lots of options and support, and they go great with the others (especially Oracle with Huntress and Canary). In larger point games you can even play the entire team; they add up nicely to a round 500 points. You’ve got plenty of options, and none of them are bad! Of course, you can also team up these members with other characters with the Birds of Prey keyword, from Streets of Gotham all the way back to Hypertime.
Distinct from their versions in the Streets of Gotham booster set and elsewhere, these figures have unique dials and powers that set them apart but still capture the characters perfectly. The brutish Hawk is a solid “brick”-type figure with a good mix of Charge with Super Strength, Leap/Climb, Close Combat Expert, Flurry, Quake, and Battle Fury; damage reducers run his entire dial until Regeneration on his final click to get him back in the game! Dove, meanwhile, is a tough opponent to take out as she whittles down your team with Flight, Incapacitate, Super Senses, Probability Control, some Exploit Weakness, Plasticity, and Energy Shield/Deflection; late game she too picks up Regeneration and Support as well. Always best as a pair, the two buff each other via the Titans team ability and Traits; Hawk gets a defense boost while Dove’s attack is increased.
Meanwhile, Black Canary has a standard power on every number of her dial, mixing it up with both ranged and close combat attacks, mobility with Running Shot and Leap/Climb, Perplex and Outwit, and a full dial of Combat Reflexes. Her Canary Cry blasts to a printed range of 5 with two targets, and she sports the Batman Ally team ability for Stealth. Finally, when Oracle is on the map Black Canary’s “In Contact with Oracle” trait lets her modify any of her combat values by +1 when given a non-free action!
Like Canary, Huntress has the same “In Contact” trait, Batman Ally team ability, and no special powers. Hers transition from ranged to close combat starting with Running Shot and Willpower, then Leap/Climb, Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Toughness, and Ranged Combat Expert mid-dial, and finally Flurry, Blades/Claws/Fangs, and Combat Reflexes to keep her deadly at the end. With a 7 range and two targets Huntress is sure to deal a lot of damage. Focusing less on damage and more on support is Oracle, who begins the game with Stealth, Incapacitate, Shape Change, and a special power that lets her move teammates. She’ll keep that power for three more clicks along with Phasing/Teleport and alternating Perplex and Outwit. Another “team player” but with bite of her own is Lady Blackhawk. The ace pilot starts out with a 10 movement and “Aerie One” special power with a super-charged Carry ability that breaks all the usual rules! After airlifting in her teammates Zinda switches mid-dial to Flurry, Combat Reflexes, and Close Combat Expert to do her share of the fighting. End dial she hops in Aerie One again to evacuate any injured allies, and a click of Ranged Combat Expert lets her shoot back at those chasing her.
Beyond the great figures each Fast Forces pack comes with cool new maps, and the Birds of Prey here are no exception. On one side is Crime Alley, “birthplace” of Batman! It was here that Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot to death in an alley outside of a theater. In this new Indoor/Outdoor map, Crime Alley is a depressed area of Gotham City with a busy street on one side and the decrepit theater on the other. The outdoor portion is pretty much what you’d expect, with some varied terrain including a small secondary building (elevated), cars (hindering), and AC units (hindering). Meanwhile, the interior of the theater offers a maze of many terrain types with walls, blocking columns, elevated projection booths, and hindering ticket booth, concessions stand, and theater chairs. The starting areas on this map are on either short side, which means that while both players share the street one can start on top of the small building while the other can set up in the theater. There are several neat small details on this map that hardcore Bat-fans will enjoy like the commemorative roses placed in the alley for the Waynes and the torn remains of posters for what looks like a Zorro film in the lobby of the theater.
On the flipside is the Gotham City Clocktower, home to Oracle and headquarters of the Birds of Prey. A very interesting layout that’ll take some getting used to, the tower features a large central indoor section surrounded by an outdoor ledge decorated with blocking terrain gargoyles. Three edges of the map (and one square on the fourth side) are special “Street Terrain” - if a character without certain abilities or powers ends up there after actions resolve it takes 1 unavoidable damage and is placed back in its owner’s starting area. Inside the tower itself is a complex elevated platform with lots of ramps, and scattered across it are computer terminals and Oracle’s furniture (hindering terrain).
Just like the others, the Birds of Prey Fast Forces pack offers a lot of playability and team building options with six fun figures and two cool new maps (which besides giving you more options are also locations for you to play additional No Man’s Land gang events). The Birds of Prey arrive alongside the single figure boosters and team packs of Streets of Gotham next Wednesday, December 19th.
Check back again on Friday as we look at even more cool HeroClix from Streets of Gotham!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Sample Courtesy of WizKids Games