-Review and Photos By Scott Rubin
Hey everybody, we’re back with another advance look at some cool upcoming HeroClix! And this is really quite exciting, and something brand new. In the last few months, we’ve seen WizKids premiere a new style of HeroClix Starter set, with first the Justice League Unlimited set, and then the Fantastic Four Cosmic Clash box. Those are great, but now there’s a whole new animal on the way with the Marvel HeroClix Battlegrounds Avengers vs. Masters of Evil box! Absolutely jam-packed with contents and figures, Battlegrounds is, in my opinion, the best product WizKids has made to introduce new players to the game and get them in with lots of fun. Big statement? Sure! Let’s dive in and see what we’re talking about here.
First off, the box. Avengers vs. Masters of Evil comes in a package that’s very close to that used for the previous two Starters. Totally separate and distinct from the clamshell Fast Forces packs, these are hefty boxes big enough to contain a bunch of stuff. The front panel has a big splash of artwork featuring Captain America fighting Red Skull with Ultrons in the background, and of course the all-important company and brand logos. There’s a small plastic window through which you can see a few of the included figures, but there’s so much more inside, and you have to look at the sides and top of the box to see 3D renders of all the figures.
That leaves the back panel, which has lots of info. There’s a description of exactly what the Battlegrounds set is, a list of the contents inside, photos of what a game could look like, and some handy quick descriptions of what you can do with the set.
Pop open the box and what will you find? The big plastic tray holds all TEN figures plus the set’s unique dice, black with red markings and an Avengers symbol on the “6” side. Then there’s a bag full of paper and cardboard which you can divide into a few different categories. Cardboard covers four sheets of pop-out bits with terrain/effects, bystander tokens (generic Ultron Drones and then actual characters Black Panther, Wrecker, M.O.D.O.K., Taskmaster, War Machine, and Nick Fury), objects, and even action tokens (which is pretty cool). Then there are two full-size, double-sided maps, rules resources, character cards (two for each figure), and a set of Scenario Cards/Campaign Rules giving you new, fun, and narrative ways to play the game.
Alright, how does one learn how to play HeroClix with Battlegrounds Avengers vs. Masters of Evil? There’s the obvious and familiar, of course, with the current HeroClix Core Rule Book and Powers & Abilities Card that’ll teach you the basics. But when it gets to the hands-on stuff, it can be difficult for new players. Usually they’re either given (or they find) ancient figures that are simple to play but essentially useless in modern HeroClix, or they get their hands on current figures that baffle them with their traits, special powers, Improved abilities, etc. Battlegrounds eliminates that issue once and for all with dual-dialed figures: Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Winter Soldier, Red Skull, Baron Zemo, Mach-X, Captain Marvel, and Ultron!
So, what about those figures? Living up to its name, the Avengers vs. Masters of Evil set has a team of five heroic Avengers and a team of five villainous Masters of Evil. If you’re a HeroClix player who’s been around for a little while, you’ll probably recognize these sculpts as they’ve appeared before in recent sets. They range from good to absolutely fantastic (Mach-X). Moreover, all of these are “SwitchClix,” meaning that the figures can be removed from their bases. Is this because we might see unpainted versions down the line that we can swap in? We can hope!
The figures in this set have what I’m referring to as a “dual-dials.” Each figure has an “a” dial and a “b” dial, but they’re both on the same base. So, combined any dial can have only 10 clicks, since each dial needs at least one KO click. The “a” dials are simple and straightforward, with fully modern stats but a limited number of powers and no extras like traits, special powers, etc., and only the easy to understand Avengers team ability. Meanwhile, the “b” dials are more of what you’d expect from figures coming in modern Fast Forces, with an array of standard powers and one or two traits/special powers. Each dial has its own card, so the new player doesn’t even need to see the complexity of the “b” card before she’s ready to play at that level. And, as my friend Scott Porter pointed out on his unboxing video, this is PERFECT for teaching and playing with children! I’ve already run games using this set with my five-year-old son and he loves it.
For our first example, let’s take a look at Black Widow. Natasha’s rookie “a” dial clocks in at a lean 25 points with four clicks of life. She has Indomitable, a 4 range with two targets, and the Avengers team ability. On the dial she has good stats, and the only powers that appear there are Precision Strike, Super Senses, and Shape Change, definitely enough for a new player to learn in his first game. After some practice you’ll be ready to upgrade to the “b” dial, twice the cost at 50 points with five clicks of life and the same Indomitable, range, and team ability. But this time around Widow has two starting Special Powers giving her Sidestep, Stealth, Close Combat Expert, and Shape Change on top of Incapacitate and Super Senses on the dial! They aren’t complex special powers, but they certainly layer on a bunch of standard ones. Late-dial the Avenger switches up tactics with Leap/Climb, Combat Reflexes, and Outwit.
Then there’s Mach-X, a… lesser known villain. He also has a 25 point “a” dial, this time with Flight, Indomitable, and a 6 range. The armored foe’s power set is straightforward with only Running Shot, Energy Shield/Deflection, and Enhancement. When you’re ready to go full throttle reach for the “b” dial, where 75 points gets you six clicks of life with starting Running Shot, Energy Explosion, Energy Shield/Deflection, and a special power combining Enhancement and Perplex that only works on enemies. Later on the dial you’ll see appearances of Sidestep and Toughness too. All of the “a” dials are either 25 or 50 points, while the “b” dials are either 50, 75, or 100.
You can see that with ten figures, each with two different dials, Battlegrounds gives you tons of options for playing HeroClix games (expanded obviously when mixing and matching with other figures). But that’s not all. Like Cosmic Clash before it, the Avengers vs. Masters of Evil box has the new hotness known as Campaign Rules. This is a narrative system of battles crafted in specific scenarios, guiding you through an actual storyline! At the start you’ll find very small teams of Cap and Black Widow with a Nick Fury bystander vs. Winter Soldier and Red Skull with Taskmaster bystander (all figures on their “a” dials), all leading up to an epic final battle of Avengers vs. the forces of Ultron. In addition to giving you basic scenario outlines, team builds, “choose your own adventure” style upgrades based on previous scenarios, and win conditions, these cards also offer Hard Mode options for even more unique games. Again, I’m super impressed with these and find them a very worthy addition to HeroClix products aimed at new players, while even veterans can find a lot of fun in them.
On top of all of that, and probably of most interest to longtime players who may not need additional low point versions of these characters, are the maps! Noticeably, none of these have special terrain rules or Map Bonus features. In Avengers vs. Masters of Evil you’ll find:
- Castle Hideout (outdoor), a great update to the European and Doom’s Castle maps with everything you could ask for: elevated terrain walls, water terrain moat, lots of hindering terrain from mundane objects, and a central indoor room. Even better, this map could be linked up with another copy to make a really big castle!
- Iron Man’s Workshop (indoor) is interesting, being mostly a big empty space dotted with hindering terrain tech bits and armor suits. There’s a centrally located room of obscuring terrain holograms and tables of blocking terrain, while along the edges you’ll find an elevated walkway and at two corners a big chunk of blocking (one of which is a gigantic Hulkbuster suit!). Bonus points if you can name all the Marks of armor on display here.
- Ultron’s Lair (indoor) is… a lot, kinda hard to look at and figure out where everything goes. There’s blocking terrain at every corner, three winding sections of lower elevation pits, and a rectangle of hindering terrain. Oh, wait, I seriously just realized that the elevation pattern MAKES AN ULTRON FACE!!!
- Helicarrier Interior (indoor) is cool, with lots of walls to block off lines of approach and fire. Cubicles have furniture and storage for hindering terrain, while in the central area the vehicles provide the same.
If you’ve gotten anything from all of the above, it’s that the HeroClix Battlegrounds: Avengers vs. Masters of Evil set is pretty much perfect for people who are interested in getting into HeroClix, or for those of you who want to teach and introduce new people to the game. It’s technically a two-person starter, but it has the components for four people to play at once, and of course once you add Battlegrounds to a larger HeroClix collection the sky’s the limit. Should veterans give this set a look? Sure! Granted, you probably don’t need another copy of the core rules and PAC and the “a” dials are probably too basic for you, but the “b” dials are fun, the figures look nice (especially if you don’t already have the sculpts), there are tokens and bystanders we’ve never seen before, and the maps are great. This box is scheduled to release on July 22nd (the same day as the Fantastic Four set), with an MSRP of $34.99. Also, as with the Fantastic Four set, if you can’t get this at your local store there is an option to purchase it on the WizKids webstore.
Visit HeroClix.com for even more info as well as downloads of rules and maps, and stay tuned to Figures.com as we continue our reviews of new HeroClix!
Review and photos by Scott Rubin
Review samples courtesy of WizKids Games