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Marvel: War of Heroes Game App Review November 1, 2012

Posted by webofwebhead in CCG, Hybrid Game, Marvel, Reviews, Strategy, Video Games.
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Marvel: War of Heroes loading screen

Marvel: War of Heroes is a new game app from Mobage/DeNA, publishers of the popular Rage of Bahamut game. Based on the same game engine as Rage, War of Heroes is part RPG, part CCG, and free to play on iPhone and Droid. The game is supplemented with in-game micro transactions, and features a strong community component.  Following is a quick overview of the game.  Check back tomorrow for a “grinding” guide for those that have mastered the basics.

(If you just need a referral code to get your bonus card, here you go: cax633182)

Both the RPG and CCG aspects of the game revolve around collecting virtual Marvel trading cards. During the RPG portion of the game, your chosen Hero (or Villain) works their way through a series of missions, leveling up your energy… (more…)

One Week ’til GenCon July 29, 2010

Posted by webofwebhead in About This Blog, CCG, CMG, Conventions, Magic the Gathering.
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A week from now I’ll be in the gaming nirvana of GenCon, basking in the neon glow of the vendor booths and giant sized Magic cards.  I’ll be in Indy Wednesday night to kick things off at The Diana Jones Award ceremony, and then hitting the con proper (maybe not so) bright and (maybe not so) early Wednesday morning.

This year is interesting, the traditional sponsors of the past few years have largely been shaken up, specifically with WizKids/NECA still not back to full strength and the possible demise of UDE as a gaming powerhouse.  Wizards of the Coast will be shouldering much of the burden, but they don’t appear to have a strong “big thing” new this year for the con, though M11 is fresh and doing well, and their “From the Vaults” item is sure to sell well.

I’m not sure WHAT the next big thing is this year…there is no Arcane Legions or Mutant Chronicles or Dreamblade or Yu-Gi-Oh type product that I am well aware of going in that is meant to make a big splash.  Fantasy Flight Games seems to have some contenders this year in any case, they have been promoting heavily, and have a generally very nice looking product line across the board.

So…best in show is likely to be wide open and I look forward to getting to talk all about it.  My intent is to feed twitter my minute to minute pics and news, and then write all about it proper the following week…so stay tuned.

Something Borrowed, Something New – Arcane Legions Reviewed October 22, 2009

Posted by webofwebhead in CMG, Reviews.
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ArcaneLegions_LogoAfter a preview and limited release at GenCon this year, Arcane Legions finally made its way to local game stores about a week and a half ago.  I was finally able to pick up a some figures…so here are some thoughts on the game.

Arcane Legions is a squad based tabletop combat game, and though it borrows elements from other games (many of those understandably being WizKids games), it combines those elements in new and unique ways.

The major innovation of the game is the way in which squad “trays” are used.  In many minis games, squad trays are just that, small wood boxes with low edges designed to easily move groups of figures around.  Legions develops this into its central gameplay mechanic.  Squad trays have rows of peg holes that are partially covered by overlays that describe the squad’s layout and powers.  Each figure occupies one of the open slots, and the configuration of those figures within the tray dictates the stats of the unit as a whole.  When squads take damage, figures are removed, and the remaining squad can be adjusted to a new configuration.

This mechanic is innovative…but if it feels familiar, I think it’s because it feels similar to Clix style games.  Think of it this way, if you took a Clix figure with 10 clicks of health and instead represented each of those clicks of health by ten separate figures on the same base…you’d have a game like Arcane Legions.  Now what’s really clever is that while most games with squads have very linear declines in squad strength when figures are eliminated, because of the regrouping mechanism, you can choose the way in which your squad declines.  Imagine a Clix figure that takes three points of damage, and instead of just losing stats across the board, you decide if you want to sacrifice speed and range or defense and damage.  Even the concept of pushing is handled in much the same way, with a pushed squad losing one figure, comparable to the click of damage a pushed Clix figure takes.

Squad movement and range will be familiar to anyone that played the Pirates’s game by WizKids.  Movement and range are both measured in terms of tray lengths in much the same way Pirates used card lengths.  Movement is different in the way that squads “snap” to one another and to terrain…put simply, when you base another squad, you square off to them instead of remaining on angle.

Combat is handled using handfuls of six-sided die, which should be familiar to just about anybody that has ever been a gamer.  Dice rolls are compared highest to lowest, with each higher value counting for a hit, whether it be for the attacker or defender.  Excess dice must beat a roll of 2 (called the phantom dice), assuring that you must roll well even when you have numeric dice advantage.  And in another instance reminiscent of Clix, three natural sixes result in a critical hit worth an additional point of damage.  As mentioned above, when you squad takes damage, you lose figures (of your choice) from that squad.  Of special note here are multi-slot figures, like Calvary.  The Romans bear squad figures have 4 post slots, which means they take 4 damage.  Once you begin applying damage to a figure, you must continue to do so until it is defeated…that turn.  However, if you fail to take enough hits in a single turn, the excess damage sloughs off at the end of the round, allowing your heavier hitting figures to act as tankers.

Speaking of the Romans, let’s talk about theme for a moment.  The game’s setting is an alternate history of 37 B.C.E. and as such, the powers that be are the Romans, Egyptians, and the Han of China.  However, the game takes place five years after a wave of magical energy has enveloped the world, allowing the historical Roman Legionnaires to fight against mythical Greek Minotaurs.  Figures are in 25mm scale (slightly smaller than Clix figures), and some are pre-painted, while others are only marked with color details.  There is also some assembly required, though nothing more than would necessitate the use of an exacto knife and some super glue.  I actually found the assembly time less than that of the various Pocket Models games.

Collectability is another area which is similar to a hodge podge of current gaming trends.  The two-player starter is a good value, and includes over 100 fixed figures spanning all three armies.  Boosters are random but sorted, a little like World of Warcraft Minis, except you can buy random figures for a specific army.  However, if you buy a bundle of 8 boosters, you are guaranteed a complete set, like Monsterpocalypse.  There are also non-random infantry and Calvary packs that help you flesh out your army with troopers.  To put this in perspective, if you chose a single army and split a starter with a friend…msrp on a “complete set” of one army would be right around $150.  Now…that’s assuming you only get one of each army builder set…so that number could go up from there.

So who is this game for?  I think any Clix player could take to this in a heartbeat…concepts are similar, but the scale of the battles is much different.  As the packaging promises, you can kill hundreds of figures in an hour or so.  It seems tailor-made to pick up any Mage Knight players still looking for the next big thing.  I think it will compete with Monsterpocalypse mostly, as it doesn’t have the same feel as the more in-depth minis games like 40k.  If you have 1 or 2 gamers that will split a starter with you, you can certainly give the game a fair chance with out too much investment.

New Marvel Handbook in Hardcover, Marvel Encyclopedia Reviewed October 14, 2009

Posted by webofwebhead in Books, Marvel, Reviews.
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Marvel_LogoWhen I was a kid, I used to pick up ” The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe” comics whenever I could find them.  They were a bit pricey at the time, but the wealth of knowledge they supplied was irreplacable…some characters I had never heard of, others I knew, but didn’t know the history of as well as I’d like.  Carrying on in that same tradition is the The Marvel Encyclopedia, and DK Publishing was kind enough to give me a copy to review.

This is a big sturdy coffee table size book that says “Marvel comics have been around for 70 years, and there is a LOT you need to know about them!”  The wrap around cover art is a huge battle scene with Spidey and Cap front and center getting the double KO on Venom and the Red Skull.  This is a big upgrade over the old “we are all waiting in line at the DMV” look that the old Handbook’s had, or even the “we are all running away from Galactus/Thanos/Rob Liefeld” type covers of yesteryear.  I was surprised to find that the art on the dust jacket is also found on the glossy cover as well.  I like my books dust jacket free, so repeating the art on the cover is a good thing in my opinion.

This edition of the Encyclopedia is the Updated and Expanded version, which among other things means that it is current up through the Secret Invasion storyline.  The bulk of the book is devoted to individual characters, though teams are also covered, as are events (like World War Hulk) and decade’s of Marvel history (like the 80’s and 90’s).  Fittingly, more obscure characters receive smaller sections, perhaps up to four to a page, whereas major characters such as Captain America get multi-page spreads.  Each character receives a quick stat review (weight, height, etc.) as well as a separate powers and abilities blurb.  While all art appears to be various pick-ups (including some from back in the original Handbooks it appears), all of the blurbs are fresh with current events tied into the character’s history.

Take a minor character like Chemistro.  Here is a character I knew little to nothing about, but he is one of the central villains in the past couple of issues of New Avengers.  From his blurb, I now know that he is not the original Chemistro, and more importantly, he has a long history fighting against Luke Cage, one of the core members of the New Avengers.  Little tidbits like this enhance my appreciation of the comics I read on a weekly basis…which really is all I could ever ask for from a book like this.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have characters like the Hulk.  The Hulks spread is several pages long and bridges directly into the World War Hulk section.  I know the Hulk, you know the Hulk…but in this case the depth of review is refreshing…I missed Planet Hulk, and this fills in the major details for me.  Again, my current reading is enhanced by this background information.

I certainly felt like this book is aimed squarely at me as it’s target audience.  (DK’s own website lists it under “books for adults”.)  It’s recap of the 80’s and 90’s is a trip down memory lane, I started reading comics in 1983 when I was about 7 or 8.  As mentioned above, this is a coffee table sized book…not meant for a mere bookshelf.  The mix of older and newer art, static and active depictions make for a nice bit of visual variance on each page.  The MSRP is an even $40, a fair price for a large hardcover, though a quick check on a popular etailer website named after a river shows that it can be found for closer to $25.  To put it plainly, if I had received this under the Christmas tree this year, I would be a very happy camper…this type of thing makes a great gift idea for the comic collector that has everything.

WizKids Official Website Back Up, HCRealms Revamping October 12, 2009

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HeroClix_LogoThe WizKids Games official website is now back up and running with a bare bones promotional front page.  There is no indication as of yet as to how fully fleshed out the site will eventually be.  The site does point back to NECA’s main page (though surprisingly the NECA main page does not point to the new WizKids site.)

I’m of the firm opinion that collectible games and websites go hand in glove, so I hope that NECA will continue to push and develop a broad web presence for WizKids games.  It is encouraging that they are leveraging nunet social sites like Facebook already.

HCRealms also appears to be restructuring ever so slightly in anticipation of renewed interest in the HeroClix game.  The site owner has an open thread for site suggestions, worth checking out if you think you might have a good idea for the site.  (I recommended a more mobile friendly site.)

Finally, I have to say that it’s going to be hard to resist going all out for the upcoming Hammer of Thor set.  I was recently going back through my comics, and I can’t help but notice that Thor has been one of my perennial favorites, though I can’t say I was ever overtly conscious of that.  But I have many back issues of the various books, and I’m deeply following the current stories as well.  Can’t wait to see what the set brings.

Convention’al Wisdom October 9, 2009

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While clearing out the office, I came across all of my saved up convention badges.  As I sort through them, I thought it would be as good a time as any to relive some of the gaming history they represent for me…

September 28 – October 1, 1995, Toledo, Ohio – AndCon:  This was my first big con, and luckily it was found right in my own back yard.  At this point, I had been playing Magic for a little over a year, and we had just started playing Marvel Overpower as our casual game.  I remember playing in Magic tournaments matching Ice Age commons against Power Nine rare decks.

September 12 – 15, 1996, Toledo, Ohio – AndCon: In ’96 I was playing both Magic and the Star Wars CCG, attempting to play tournaments for both games.  Star Wars already is beginning to eclipse Magic in our play group.

September 25 – 28, 1997, Toledo, Ohio – AndCon: By this year my play group is basically Star Wars CCG only, and this is reflected in my gameplay for the weekend.  I remember unloading a lot of Magic cards that I wish I still had today.

September 1998, Toledo, Ohio – AndCon: This was the final year AndCon was held, and attendance was way down.  We were still playing Star Wars CCG and I still remember furtively trying to track down Overpower singles.  Ironically I would be working across the street from the convention center the following year and never have the chance to simply walk across the skywalk from work to the con.

November 1999, Virginia Beach, Virginia – DecipherCon: The first DecipherCon held near Decipher’s home offices.  This was a great venue for playing cards, overlooking the water.  We were playing Young Jedi competitively at the time.  We also picked up a lot of the Austin Powers  CCG which was pre-released at the event.  This would be my first and only DecipherCon. (more…)

Zombieland Reviews Start Coming In… October 2, 2009

Posted by webofwebhead in Movies.
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…and so far it’s thumbs up.  A girl on my volleyball team that works for a radio station saw it earlier this week, and she loved it.  Slate and Ain’t It Cool News gave it a huge thumbs up already.  The impression I am getting is that if you love the commercials…you will love the movie, it’s the real deal.  I don’t get to see nearly as many movies as I’d like in the theatres each year, but I’m rolling the dice on this one…anybody already seen it?  Post it if you have!

Zendikar Yields Real Treasure: Vintage Cards Randomly Inserted September 25, 2009

Posted by webofwebhead in CCG, Magic the Gathering.
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Magic_LogoAs if we needed another reason to get excited about Magic’s newest set, word came in late last night via the twitterverse and sites like mtgsalvation that Zendikar packs contained random inserts of Vintage cards like the original Dual Lands.  Not reprints…the acutal 15+ year old cards likely hand added to the print run.  This is an incredible move really and quite unexpected, I’m not sure what is more surprising…that WotC is doing this in the first place, or that they managed to keep it a secret until basically the pre-release.

Apparently there are approximately 90 different cards in the mix, and supposedly the “power nine” could be in the mix (or maybe are in the mix…rumor has it an original Unlimited Mox has already been pulled)…but true distribution numbers are still up in the air.  The current theory/conventional wisdom points to 1 pack in 20 boxes, but that seems too low considering the number that have already surfaced PRIOR to the actual pre-release, but I’m sure the Magic community group think will come up with better numbers by Monday when I’m sure there will be some sort of public article about the whole deal.

So…here is to pulling Moxes this weekend at the pre-release.  I’ll be live Tweeting my event tomorrow night, you can follow me on webofwebhead on twitter.  If I pull big, you’ll be sure to hear about it. – B

NECA makes it official: WizKids lives again September 14, 2009

Posted by webofwebhead in CMG, DC, HeroClix, Marvel.
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NECA_LogoNECA released a much anticipated (and thus not very surprising) PRESS RELEASEtoday regarding it’s purchase of the major properties of WizKids games from Topps.

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Noted specifically in the release is the fact that both Marvel and DC HeroClix will continue to be released, which confirms officially what I was told at GenCon and what has been widely reported elsewhere.  The deal also included the “Pirates” line of games, though I noticed that the movie version of the game was not mentioned specifically, and no mention was made of the Star Wars version of the Pocket Model game, leading me to believe that may be a permanent casualty of the reorg.

 Also, Mage Knight was thrown in the mix, which is interesting since D&D minis no longer have skirmish rules and hence aren’t technically in competition any longer with a potential revival of Mage Knight.  (Though World of Warcraft minis are still a force to reckon with, to be sure.)

Magic: M10 Online Outsells 10th Edition in 2 Months September 2, 2009

Posted by webofwebhead in CCG, Magic the Gathering.
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Magic_LogoThis little tidbit was floating around the #Magic Twitter-verse this morning, but I thought it warranted comment.  Though Magic packs for Magic the Gathering Online are of course virtual, they do have a distinct sales window.  Magic 10th edition was on sale for two years, from when it replaced 9th until it was replaced by M10 two months ago.

In the two months since it’s online release, M10 has already outsold Magic 10th edition.  To think of it another way, virtual M10 has outsold 10th more than 12 to 1 already.  M10 will never “sell out” virtually, however, this news combined with the rolling sell outs of real cards at brick and mortar stores seems to indicate that M10 has sold very, VERY well.

Having attended the pre-release for M10 and playing and collecting it quite a bit since,  I can say that I’m not surprised, the set does feel like Magic used to in the old days (like 15 years ago when I started playing).  That old Magic feel is back…and this bodes well for future core set releases.