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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

HeroClix Reaches Critical Mass

by Ken Newquist / January 10, 2004

Critical Mass, the latest expansion for WisKids Game's HeroClix miniatures game, features a new cross section of Marvel Superheroes, including favorites like Venom, Rhino and Archangel, as well as new versions of old standbys Spiderman, Daredevil and Electra.

As a game, HeroClix is now just about two years old, and it's seen a bunch of expansions -- four for Marvel Comics, two for DC Comics, and one dedicated to independent titles. After all this time I'd expect to feel burn out creeping into my game, but truthfully, every new release has only fueled my addiction to "HeroCrack". And this one's no exception.

Game-play wise, everything works the same as in previous editions -- you've got figures attached to a "clickable" base. That base contains numbers with the figure's attack, defense, speed and damage values as well as any superpowers. These numbers change as the figure takes damage.

I'm a diehard X-Men fan, so naturally the first thing I look for in any Clix release is for X-Team members. They aren't nearly as numerous in this expansion as the last one, "X-Plosion", but they do have a few representatives, including Archangel, Magick and Marrow.

Archangel's Veteran and Rookie versions are rather ho-hum, with Super Strength and Charge and a decently deep dial. Since the rule changes that prevent taxing, being able to fly and charge is useful, but its something we've seen before. The Experienced version, which I haven't pulled yet, apparently has range combat expert (or maybe flurry?) to represent the time when he was transformed by Apocalypse into "Death", one of the Four Horsemen. That's a pretty darn cool, and its that kind of loyalty to the source material is part of the reason I keep playing Clix.

Marrow, a Blades/Claws figure with regeneration at the end of her dial is a surprisingly effective piece -- she ended up being my last figure during our playtest, and only lost because Daredevil picked up Outwit at the end of his dial, and could turn off Regeneration. Definitely a good addition to your X Team. Magik,, a former New Mutant, is another good figure, combining Phasing with Blades/Claws. Very dangerous, especially against people who aren't ready for her Phasing power.

Meteorite -- an Avenger -- is another Phasing character, only she's got Range Combat Expert as well. Coupled with the villainous Umar (another fig with Range Combat Expert, but also Mind Control) she proved to be very effective.

The classic Spidey villain Venom is an excellent sculpt, and with healthy doses of Perplex and Outwit, he's fun to play too. Rhino is another great sculpt (inspired by "Ultimate Spiderman", rather than the original series) but he's got something of a glass jaw, and fell quickly to Blade/Claws wielding opponents.

This edition's Daredevil picks up the Spiderman team ability, which should make fans of Marvel Knights teams very happy. Daredevil has Super Senses, Outwit and a strong defense, making him a figure that can make a solid stand against opponents.

As far as weenie figures go, the set adds the Kree, an alien race that has fought intergalactic wars against the Skulls (a shape-shifting race that appeared in the first two Marvel editions). The Krees have the Shield team ability (allowing them to provide a extra click of damage to a neighboring ally) but are otherwise unmemorable. The Brood, insectoid aliens from the pages of the X-Men, make an appearance with both drones and queens (though oddly, I've pulled more queens than drones, which is a little annoying). There's also a new Hydra figure -- a Dreadnought whose veteran version is able to do three clicks of damage. This is a welcome addition to my Hydra army, which previously maxed out at two clicks of damage.

My only real complaint being this expansion is its timing. This release came out in early December, only a few months after IndyClix was released in October, and a mere three months ahead of the next DC release. It's just too much Clix in too little time -- I'd much rather see at six months between each release, which would give fans a chance to play out one set before turning to the next one.

Final Analaysis: Critical Mass is just as enjoyable as HeroClix's earlier expansions. It's only flaw is that it comes to close to other WizKids releases, It's definitely worth picking ... if you have enough cash left.