Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Heroclix, or a taste of normalcy in Florida

Okay, so I promised to do more than just talk about the comics themselves here. Yesterday, I went to the local gaming/comic/LAN Gaming shop here in Melbourne, Florida, The Wizard's Wall, and was sitting to do some e-mailing when I heard the Monday night Heroclix guys talking.

For those of you who don't know, Heroclix is a game where you get to make the decisions for a group of comic book characters fighting each other, and roll the dice to see how well things turn out.

Turns out, they were about to play a Marquee tournement for the newest set from DC, icons. Marquee means that it is a celebration of a new set coming out. It also means that everyone has to buy three packs of figures and make their best team from that (each figure has a certain point value, and your entire team cannot surpass a certain maximum point value) to play. This puts everyone on more-or-less even footing. So, I decided, "What the hell? Why not?" and I did. I haven't played heroclix in about... mmm... forever. Heroclix is a collectible game (different pieces have different rarities, and you only get 4 of about 96 figures from a set in any given box. This means to get all the figures you have to spend a few hundred dollars per set or so) and at some point they decided to start retiring figures. What this means is the hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars we had spent on the early Heroclix sets were now no longer worth anything in most tournement formats. Which sucked. In fact, for some of the group I played with, it sucked the fun right out of the game. So, we stopped playing.

But here I was, a stranger in a strange land, looking to meet people just as strange as I. So, I ponied up my $20 for the three boosters. And got my ass kicked. The first game, I made a couple of strategic errors - I will blame it on being rusty. The second game, I sacrificed one character for a couple of good shots at two others. It worked. I lost the one character, but wiped out my opponent. The third game, I played a younger player who was new to the game. He slaughtered me. I have never been beaten so badly in my life. The dice hated me and loved him. He couldn't miss (that's a lie. I think he did miss once, when he had about a 20% chance to hit. But it is worth noting that he tried that roll three times, and only missed it once), and I could almost never hit. And of the 5 times I did hit, he made a roll that let him ignore the damage done 3 times. Now, mind you, this roll is a straight up 33.33% shot. It was ugly. About as ugly as it can be. But hopefully, it'll have my opponents underestimating me next time.

Anyway, it was fun to forget about the fact that I am all alone down here for a few hours and meet some guys who may some day develop into friends. That is one of the great things about hobbies - if you meet someone else who shares them, then you know you will have at least something to talk about.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Playing Catchup

Lots has happened since my last post. I have moved to Florida, and been so distracted by my real life that I haven't been posting as often as I'd like to. (Nathan - if you are reading this, your father told me you were disappointed in me.)

A lot has happened in the world of comic books, too. DC has driven a wedge between their trinity, but not as I expected them to: Superman did not make the choice to kill, but Wonder Woman did. I was surprised by the extreme reactions of both Superman and Batman to her choice. I think they always knew she was a warrior, but maybe this smacked too much of an execution rather than a casualty of battle.

Overall, I thought the "Sacrifice" story arc was enjoyable, but felt rushed or something. Essentially, in it, illusions are cast right into Superman's mind by Maxwell Lord to cause him to beat Batman nearly to death. Of course, this has no real effect on Batman - he is still find in his own title and in other comics going on concurrently with this story arc - that was one of the shabbier aspects of the story - it wasn't well prepared. If you are going to have Supes beat Bats, have him out of action for a month or two of books. It made that part of the story seem less real, particularly since there was so much going on in the arc that was illusory.

Also, Superman's extreme reaction to Diana killing Lord seemed a little strange, given that in each of the visions he had been subjected to, he had flown into a rage, to the point of trying to kill the villain who he was seeing. Again, perhaps it was the cold nature of her decision, rather than it being in the heat of passion that bothered him so. The scene where Wonder Woman tells Batman what he had done, was extremely well done.

In another little corner of the DC Universe, Hawkman has apparently been killed, and replaced, but at the same time come back and is seeking vengeance himself. This series of Hawkman stories has kicked ass. I dropped the book for some time, but this has it back near the top of my reading list. Hawkman is the most bad ass character in DC for my money right now. For straight-ahead butt kicking, this is the man to call. I hope he gets to unleash it as part of Infinite Crisis. But there is another editorial gaffe here in my opinion. In Rann-Thanagar War, Hawkman is off there fighting in the war. It is a shame things couldn't be tightly enough planned to have his books cross over with that book, but not require it to be enjoyed. But I'll try not to complain too much given the quality of the book overall.

Day of Vengeance has ended and I feel... unimpressed. I thought the end was anti-climactic. I guess that isn't surprising - it really was just one of four preludes to Infinite Crisis, which is iminent, but I hope that Villains United has a more satisfying conclusion. It has been one of the better series I have read in a long time - I am rapidly becoming a Gail Simone fan - and I would hate to have that overshadowed by an ending that leaves me unsatisfied. I'd be surprised if Gail Simone would do that, though.

On the final note, I have a feeling that Nightwing will not come through Infinite Crisis well. That he may not even come through it at all. I hope I am wrong, but with him leaving the Outsiders, and turning his back on the Titans, and with a kind of "limbo" story arc going on in his own book leading up to his involvement with Deathstroke and daughter, I can't help but wonder if they are preparing him for something terrible. If it happens, remember you heard it here first. And if I'm wrong, well, we can add that to the list of predictions I have made that have gone awry and I will be happy to do so.

Inifinite Crisis is shaping up to be a BIG DEAL. And I am looking forward to it. Hopefully, it won't be too long before my next post.