REVIEW: WizKids Games Yu-Gi-Oh! HeroClix Series One
Gravity Feed, Starter Set, & OP Kit Bring The Dueling And Monsters To Life...
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Over the last few years, WizKids Games has taken HeroClix to all sorts of new places. While it may be best known for combining DC and Marvel Comics characters, the game actually has a long history of including other properties going back to the old Indy sets, Hellboy’s B.P.R.D., Invincible, etc. It was in 2011 that WizKids showed how the game could include licenses completely outside of the comic book realm starting with video games like Gears of War, Street Fighter, and Halo before moving on to properties like Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Iron Maiden, Pacific Rim, and more. The latest non-comic HeroClix expansion set takes yet another new turn by delving into the world of trading card games with Yu-Gi-Oh! Series One! First appearing as a manga in 1996, Yu-Gi-Oh would become one of the world’s most popular TCGs and spawn anime, movies, video games, and more. In the anime and game players “summon” (via cards) fantastical creatures and characters to do battle in duels while employing spells and traps to further manipulate the proceedings. The HeroClix version ports in many of the most well-known and popular monsters from Yu-Gi-Oh and makes them fully compatible with everything else in the game, and it adds new mechanics to recreate the unique elements like Fusion and spells/traps! Let’s take a closer look.
In keeping with many of the more “independent” property releases in HeroClix lately, Yu-Gi-Oh is mainly available in single-figure blind booster gravity feed packs (24 per box). There are 55 figures in the Series One booster set with a full rarity scheme including 16 commons, 15 uncommons, 12 rares, 9 super rares, and 3 highly sought after chase figures. In addition, there’s a six figure Starter Set and participating game stores will have exclusive limited edition prizes from the Yu-Gi-Oh HeroClix Organized Play kit. I came into the Yu-Gi-Oh set pretty fresh, having had little contact with the property previously in any of its forms. The figures I’ve found here are really interesting, and fall generally evenly into three categories: beautiful, cool, and monstrous. Have a look through the gravity feed figures and see if you agree.
In most HeroClix sets the Commons will bring you a couple heroes, a couple villains, and several generics like soldiers or minions. In Yu-Gi-Oh the system is different as all of the characters are “cards” from the anime/game, though in general the first couple rarity levels average lower point figures and get more powerful in the rares, super rares, etc. Looking at the commons with my general way of dividing up the figures, I find two really “cool” futuristic warriors in Alister’s Cyber Soldier of Darkworld and the Kinetic Soldier. Beauty is well represented across most of the categories of cards with the dapper Witty Phantom (Dark), elegant Sonic Maid (Earth), Firewing Pegasus (Fire), and Light’s flying schoolgirl Hysteric Fairy and the penitent Forgiving Maiden. Monsters really dominate here, though, starting with animal-based characters like the lucky cat Neko Mane King, Mother Grizzly, fire spewing Berserk Gorilla, and bug man Kamakiriman. Even further “out there” commons include the Amphibian Beast, the first of the imps in the Des Feral Imp, undead Goblin Zombie, and two really weird figures that each have one eye: Hiro’s Shadow Scout and Sengenjin!
Moving on to the Uncommons of the Yu-Gi-Oh Series One, we find more cool figures like the Dark robotic Mechanicalchaser and headless Cannon Soldier, Joey Wheeler’s reptilian warriors Alligator’s Sword and Garoozis, and awesome knights in opposition Breaker the Magical Warrior (Dark) and Blade Knight (Light). There’s definitely a theme of weird eyes in Yu-Gi-Oh, and you’ll that in abundance here with creatures like the three-eyed furball Sangan, monocular musician Dragon Piper and Morphing Jar, and the nearly indescribable Thousand-Eyes Idol. Yugi’s Feral Imp and Kaiba’s La Jinn the Mystical Genie of the Lamp round out the more monstrous figures, while you may find beauty in three beacons of Light: the teensy Happy Lover and Key Mace and the multi-armed Asura Priest.
The Yu-Gi-Oh Rares have some of the coolest figures in the set with knights, dragons, and all manner of things, but possibly the most unique is the inanimate floating building known as the Castle of Dark Illusions (which also functions as one of the new spell/trap figures - more on that later). Looking for a futuristic amphibian with a gun on its back? There’s a Catapult Turtle for you! If you want to go even weirder there’s the hovering, eye-stalked thing known as Relinquished or the three Paradox Brothers Suijin, Kazejin, and Sanga of the Thunder. Four cool rare dragons bring to life Yugi’s skeletal Curse of Dragon as well as Joey’s Thousand Dragon, Baby Dragon, and the latter’s pair up in Alligator’s Sword Dragon (another spell/trap). Two more awesome warrior figures capture the greatsword-wielding Flame Swordsman and mounted Gaia the Fierce Knight!
You’ll be happy to pull Super Rares in your single-figure boosters, and if you do you may get one of three more spell/trap figures who are also interesting ladies: Yugi’s serene blue Mystical Elf, Mai Valentine’s bird-footed Harpie Lady, and Rebecca Hawkins’ syringe-riding Injection Fairy Lily. Weird super rares run the gamut from the cute and cuddly Kuriboh to the ominous skeletal Summoned Skull, wacky clock-based Time Wizard, and the evolution of Relinquished in Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Rounding out this batch are two of the coolest and most powerful figures in the set, the dragon riding Gaia the Dragon Champion and Gate Guardian, the combined form of the Paradox Brothers!
Most gravity feed-based sets may have one or two Chase figures, but Yu-Gi-Oh clocks in with three... and they’re all awesome. Each one represents a different iconic monster used by a main character from the anime. There’s Joey’s small but fierce Red-Eyes B. Dragon, Yugi’s ultra-popular Dark Magician, and the hulking form of Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes White Dragon! Naturally these are some of the coolest figures in the set, though also the hardest to find.
If you’re like me a lot if not most of these characters are new to you, and it was really fun to check out all of the Yu-Gi-Oh figures. There are quite a few really impressive sculpts in the mix ranging from detailed armor to intricate textures, unique shapes, and more. Some of the more martial standouts include the mechanical and heavily armed Cyber Soldier of Darkworld who contrasts nicely with the Blade Knight wearing layered and angular plate mail armor. Detail isn’t lacking on some of the prettier figures either, as evidenced by the intricate clothing and poses of the Hysteric Fairy and Witty Phantom. There’s a nice mix of large and small characters, with equally impressive sculpts on the tiny rider figures of Alligator’s Sword Dragon, Gaia the Dragon Champion, and Injection Fairy Lily as there are on hulking brutes like the misshapen weapon master Sangenjin. I’m always appreciative of textures as they really bring miniatures to life, and so I was particularly impressed by the wings of the Firewing Pegasus, Garoozis’ scaly hide, and the lumpy flesh of Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Top marks go to the fearsome Blue-Eyes White Dragon and the armored, dual lance-wielding rider figure Gaia the Fierce Knight!
Full of weird characters, Yu-Gi-Oh Series One is also just as colorful and visually interesting as any superhero HeroClix set. A lot of the fairy and human types are really nicely painted, and the Sonic Maid is particularly impressive with her mix of pastel clothing, translucent energy, and metallic gold weapon and jewelry. Other cool metallic-accented character include the aforementioned Cyber Soldier of Darkworld and Gaia the Fierce Knight (two of my favorites), each with a shiny and glossy sheen on their armor. Meanwhile, translucent plastic shows up on flight and energy effects and the like on figures such as Berserk Gorilla breathing fire and Sanga of the Thunder’s Lightning Shield. Some of the weirder figures are nicely enhanced by their unique paint jobs, and great examples of those are the Thousand-Eyes Idol with its multitude of eyes and wacky costume and the Dragon Piper with its pottery-like embellishments. I like the subtle detail work like the tiny Key Mace’s doll face, the Baby Dragon’s baby blues, and the symbol emblazoned on the front of Kazejin, while a couple of the best paint work can be seen on the brightly colored Time Wizard and the somber Dark Magician.
WizKids game designers went the extra mile with Yu-Gi-Oh, adding some new mechanics that both accurately reflect elements of the source materials and make the figures feel more authentic. Chief of these is the Trap/Spell functionality. Appearing on six figures (including one from the Starter Set) with a tiny card logo, the Trap/Spell feature is available when the character is KO’ed or if you add it directly to your force by paying the secondary cost on its dial/card (between 4 and 10 points). At that time the figure is removed from the base (SwitchClix) which is placed face down in your pool. When a Yu-Gi-Oh figure you control spends a power action you can “set” the dial to either the Spell or the Trap and place it on the activating character’s card whereby it can access the ability it grants. They vary widely from the 4 point Injection Fairy Lily’s “Call of the Haunted” which can save a figure that would otherwise be KO’ed to the 10 point Hitotsu-Me Giant’s “Ring of Magnetism” that lowers the set figure’s defense but forces opponents to attack it or suffer penalties. Traps and Spells also vary in terms of duration with some one-shots and others persisting until a specific trigger occurs. The Yu-Gi-Oh set also introduces a new base symbol for Fusion, a process similar to Merge that’s activated by a required figure being adjacent to the others and hitting an opponent; the figures are replaced with the Fusion figure from your sideline on the same click as the activating character AND it gets +1 to its combat values! Note that there’s no way to Split once you’ve Fused. Finally, Relinquished is noteworthy for having a special “Ritual” ability (allowing you to KO a figure and summon it under special circumstances) complete with an Eye of Ra style logo on its base.
Yu-Gi-Oh figures are interested in that they run the gamut from the straightforward to the tricky and complicated with everything in between. 41 of them are under 100 points, and plenty of those and more expensive figures have at most a trait or special power that does something easy to grasp. However, there are exceptions. Figures in this set do reach some pretty rarified air with five figures 200 points or more, topping out at the epic 300 point Gate Guardian. There’s some Improved Movement and Targeting, Flight, Indomitable, Transporter, etc. (though notably no Giants or Sharpshooter). A couple of unique special powers that definitely caught my eye include Asura Priest’s “Multiple Arms” that activates four close combat attacks for a double power action, Gaia the Dragon Champion’s “Destroy the Flotation Ring!” that permanently grounds any fliers he hits, and Gate Guardian’s “Sanga of the Thunder” that makes his multi-target Pulse Wave damage 3! There are also a lot of cool traits in the set like “Nuisance” on Neko Mane King (prohibits your opponent from taking any action in the turn after hitting it), Morphing Jar’s “Tactical Movement” (once after getting hit have each player place his/her figures into an opponent’s starting area), Kuriboh’s “Explosive Body” (deals 2 penetrating to adjacent characters upon KO), and Injection Fairy Lily’s “Super Serum” (for a free action boost her values by +2 and on your next turn deal her 2 unavoidable damage).
In addition to the gravity feed, there are a couple of other ways to enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh HeroClix Series One from WizKids. A great way for new players to get in on the game, especially those who may be Yu-Gi-Oh TCG fans looking to check out the new expression of their favorite license, there’s a Starter Set that comes with everything you need to play. Six figures include five from the gravity feed with different dials (Dark Magician, Breaker the Magical Warrior, Feral Imp, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and Des Feral Imp) along with a figure only available there (Hitotsu-Me Giant). Most of them slightly budget versions, these figures are ideal for learning the game with their lack of traits or special powers and point values that make team building a snap. There’s even a Trap/Spell figure in the Giant for trying out that familiar mechanic! Along with the figures the Starter includes a rulebook, Powers and Abilities Card, dice, tokens, and two very cool maps (the Duelist Kingdom: Forest with tons of Hindering Terrain and the Pegasus Castle with multiple elevations to make things interesting). There’s also a special card that outlines Yu-Gi-Oh Scenario Rules for HeroClix that utilize even more elements from the TCG like Life Points, Respawns, and more! These are great also for experienced HeroClix players, giving them a new way to enjoy the game. Finally, participating game/comic stores have access to a Yu-Gi-Oh Series One OP Kit featuring a very cool Celtic Guardian limited edition prize figure and another double-sided map (Duelist Kingdom: Water, the Summoned Skull’s favorite map, and the gloomy Cavern of Lost Souls with fingers of Blocking Terrain and central Hindering hiding places).
HeroClix players were unsure of what to expect with the addition of Yu-Gi-Oh, but looking at the full set it’s clear that there’s a lot here that will enrich the game with cool figures that are fun to play. If you play both games then this is definitely a set you want, and I’d suggest any Clixer at least check it out; you’re probably going to find some figures that work with your play style. (Oh, and if you happen to be a fan of My Little Pony, there’s a growing community of modders who are doing amazing things with the Firewing Pegasus.) The Yu-Gi-Oh Series One gravity feed and Starter Set are available now everywhere you buy your HeroClix, and you can check with your local game shop to see if it has the OP Kit. Good luck in your pulls and your duels!
Visit HeroClix.com for even more info as well as downloads of rules and maps, and check Figures.com regularly as we continue our reviews of new HeroClix!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of WizKids Games