Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Best of Star Wars Attacktix 2006

The venerable Star Wars line grew nicely in 2006. The last of the 3-pack boosters came with Series 3, which made collecting complete sets far easier in Series 4. In 2006, Star Wars teams also won the official tournament held at BotCon (a convention dedicated to Transformers) and the tournaments hosted by Yaggleberry Finn and notacomputer (along with the official San Diego Comics Convention tournament that occurred before the Transformers or Marvel Attacktix were released). And with half of the movies yet to be featured as the primary figures in an Attacktix series, SW fans have a lot to look forward to in 2007 (though early pre-production pieces indicate that we may have figures from The Empire Strikes Back in Series 5)!

Without further ado, here's YodaBreaker's best of SW Attacktix 2006!

Honorable mention: R2-Q5 (SW/30)3)

If your team has troopers, R2-Q5 has a 2/3 chance of giving one of them double its normal movement. If you've got 10-point striker troopers (like an S3 Tusken Raider or an S4 Wicket) on your team, R2-Q5 has a 2/3 chance of making one of those troopers rather scary. If you've got a 12-speed, 10-point striker trooper on your team, R2-Q5 has a 2/3 chance of making it deadly if your opponent goes first and decides to move at all on his or her first turn on a standard 3-foot playing field. If your opponent has R2-Q5 and a 10-point striker trooper, try desperately to take R2-Q5 out on your first turn. Otherwise, you may be in for a world of hurt. A pure effects figure is difficult to include in the "best of" list proper because it can't help press the attack, but this black droid definitely deserves a more than honorable mention.

Fifth place: Luke as Stormtrooper (SW/28)3)

This guy makes for a fun centerpiece of a Death Star rescue-themed team. You'll really want some form of Princess Leia on a team with him, because if you do, his attack won't count against your team's total. Furthermore, his special power has a chance of bringing in another version of Luke Skywalker almost 40% of the time - perhaps one that appears on this list! He gets the nod over Han Solo as Stormtrooper because for some inexplicable reason, Luke as Stormtrooper's special power activates with a higher probability than his Han Solo counterpart.

Fourth place: Wicket (SW/03)4)

The fuzzball that introduced the Rebels to the Ewoks is a surprisingly effective striker. His strike is much more powerful than the comparable Tusken Raider, his special power keeps all Ewoks on your team safe 15% of the time, and the hollow log he stands on makes him hard to shoot down (reminiscent of S1 Yoda's excellent defense). An army of nine of these guys and a token Endor Scout took down Team Hasbro's Autobot menagerie at BotCon with the loss of only one Wicket - the Wicket that first took out nearly the entire Autobot team with a single strike. If only the head of his axe weren't so prone to breaking off!

Third place: Greedo (SW/22)4)

The first 10-point medium missile launcher (with a medium base, no less!) is a genuine winner. This figure finally gives an all 10-point launcher team a chance against an all 10-point striker team. Though it's still hard for this team to get multiple knockdowns on a single attack, his special power gives a free shot to one of your Bounty Hunters nearly 50% of the time. Too bad he's only available in the S4 starter set, which severely limits the regular player's ability to get many of him.

Second place: Luke Skywalker (SW/21)3), (T/07)

Yes, this is a retool from Series 2, but for 10 more points, he gets a large base instead of a medium one and the ability to recover more than 60% of the time if you have a Rebel in play instead of a single Attackback for Republic or Rebel figures. Simply put, that means that a team of three Lukes and a random 10-point Rebel can keep popping back up over. And over. And over again. And while one pops up again, another can use a really powerful strike to cut a swath through your opponent's forces. The tournament version gives you everything that the booster version gives you - for 10 points less, maybe letting you use a Luke as Stormtrooper as your random Rebel - who might just bring in yet another of these farm boys when he falls!

First place: Darth Vader (SW/11)4) & (SVT/04)

When an amazing sculpt is reissued with a relatively well-balanced improvement in the special power, and it fills a big hole in an otherwise strong team, I tend to take notice. In this case, the difficult-to-come-by S1 Armored Vader was retooled as not one but two great figures. The Sith was a small faction in Series 1 and 2 (almost by universe definition), so adding this Vader sculpt to the Empire gives this large faction the awesome striker with an equally formidable special power that it needs. In the booster guise, Vader improves on the S1 special power, keeping its more than 60% Recover ratio that now triggers if any figure on your team is in play. Any figure. At all. Want a beast that keeps coming? Here he is.

The gold-based version of Vader is equally devastating. Though his special power comes up only half as often, the Attackback - all Empire power makes him a true Dark Lord of the Sith. You thought gold-based Ki-Adi Mundis were powerful? Meet the figure that will send his entire team after you if you dare knock him down, if you've got an Empire-themed set of figures. The only quibble I have with the S4 versions of this figure is that his plastic seems less stiff than the S1 version, making his strike somewhat less powerful.

And the best of the rest:

Best Rebel: Han Solo (SW/20)4) costs 10 points less than his S4 booster version, has a Recover power that can go off almost as frequently as the booster version's Sacrifice can be triggered, and he still makes a nice tag team with Chewbacca without requiring Chewbacca to make his special power activate. Thus, this figure makes for a really nice addition to your Rebel team, and he's quite accessible as a member of the S4 starter set.

Best Empire: Grand Moff Tarkin (SW/16)4) is a 20-point medium missile launcher with a large base, which makes him a hard target to knock down with a surprisingly low cost. His special power also threatens Leaders in the same way that the striker version of General Grievous in Series 2 threatened Warriors, allowing him to be a threat to non-Star Wars themed teams, too.

Best Bounty Hunter: Boba Fett (SW/21)4) finally gets the Recover special power that reflects his tenacity; it comes up more than 50% of the time, so he very well may not be defeated after his first knockdown. This is a retool of the infamous "bend over, Boba" sculpt, but the Bounty Hunter faction suffers from a large number of these, and IG-88's special power is restricted to Capturing an opponent's Specialist.

Best Ewok: Logray (SW/07)4) is probably a controversial choice for this spot, but here's my reasoning. I've put Wicket in the top five already, so he's out. For the price of a single Chirpa, you can have two Lograys, who can take the fight to your opponent and have nearly a 50% chance of giving your Ewoks a double Attackback. Nevertheless, I won't begrudge those who'd nominate the Chief for this spot. Chirpa's rock takes some getting used to, and he's spendy at 40 points. Nevertheless, his squat stance makes his defense strong, and his special power has more than a 60% chance of bringing an Ewok into play - like Logray or Wicket, who won't hog space in your backups.

Best Tusken: Tusken Warlord (SW/19)3), the leader of the Tusken faction, can take a punch and get right back up almost 60% of the time as long as it's got some of its brethren left standing. It's a solid figure that can take a nice shot, and it introduced the "prodder" type of attack.

Best Jawa: Jawa (SW/10)3) may be a small-based, small missile launcher, but it's a squat, dense figure that's hard to knock over. At 10 points, it's a fun army builder sort of figure, with a decent Recruit power that can bring more Jawas into the swarm.

Best Mega: Jabba the Hutt (SW/35)3) is probably the better of the two new Megas released this time. A four-ball attack hearkens to the energy ball attacks that the Gungans and Geonosians use in the movies; they can be deployed in a rapid-fire, withering blast. I would have wished for a tail-whip attack for this figure, perhaps in combination with the ball attack. Nevertheless, it's a perverse pleasure to talk about how the slug's got balls :)

Best starter: S4 starter (with bonus Clone Trooper). Yes, I'm picking the first starter without any melee attackers whatsoever. The main reason is because of the 10-point Greedo for the reasons mentioned above. However, the figures in this starter set play really nicely together. Plus, Han and Chewie are now both 20 points, and the Bounty Hunter faction finally gets its 10-pointer fodder for the booster S4 Boba Fett to use. Oh, and this retool of bend-over Boba comes with a nice Recover power to symbolize how you can't keep a good Fett down. He still cries out for a spanking, though.

Best figure to use for things other than Attacktix: Chief Chirpa (SW/17)4) has a rock-throwing attack that's already given rise to Ewok curling. He might also be fun to have around for a game of Ewok basketball, Ewok horseshoes, and Ewok "egg toss," among other games. Though his attack is difficult to master, it's fun enough to keep Attacktix curmudgeons playing with him long after any game is over.

Best omission: 30-point small missile launchers with weak special powers. They were nowhere to be seen in SW Series 3 or 4, which means Hasbro is working through design issues with this game and actively working to eliminate the really weak types of figures. All 30-point launchers in the SW line were at least medium missile launchers with at least passable special powers. Go Hasbro!

And now, for something completely different - the worst of 2006:

Hamstrung by short strings

Princess Leia (SW/18)4) had so much going for her. The infamous fanboy dream of a bikini for a costume, a solid sculpt, and a friggin' huge launcher with a massive hook. The problem? The hook is tethered to the launcher with a string that easily unties itself. What's more, the string isn't long enough to allow for attacks beyond 8-10 Tix in front of the figure. With a speed of only 4 Tix, it's difficult to get her within attack range of an opponent's figure before she's taken out. A retool of this figure should either feature a longer string or a vastly improved movement (at least 8 Tix), though probably not both.

Boba Fett (SW/10)4) also suffers from having a short string, though it doesn't fundamentally limit the figure's utility, like S4 Princess Leia's short string does. Nevertheless, the shortness of the strong connecting his base and the figure keeps him from elevating effectively over and around other figures in formation with him. Therefore, the "cool" factor of this figure in battle is greatly reduced from its potential. It's nice that it seems Hasbro has corrected this issue with the Green Goblin base-figure string length, so we may see a retool of this figure in future waves of SW Attacktix with a longer string.

Faction fractionation

Instead of creating a separate, overarching "fringer" faction that would include at least the Jawas and Tuskens, they received their own two- and three-figure factions in Series 3, with no figures in Series 4 to expand those factions at all. Unlike the Wookiees in Series 1, which got at least a couple of expansion figures in Series 2, it looks like the Jawas and Tuskens may be orphan factions for a while. In particular, it may be difficult to expand the Jawas into their own strong faction - the Tuskens might get a Tusken Maiden and/or Tusken Warrior figure when a series focused on Attack of the Clones comes out, but the Jawas will be hurting for new figures. Thus, these otherwise fine figures may be left in the dust as other factions are more fully developed.

Moral of the story? Hasbro, please don't make a Gungan faction or a Geonosian faction, if the time ever comes. Rather, make Gungans part of the Republic (after all, that's how they fought in the Phantom Menace) and assign the Geonosians to be Separatists (as that's how they fought in Attack of the Clones). That way, they won't comprise orphan factions, and their special powers can benefit existing factions, ensuring their continued use beyond the series in which they're released.

And the rest of the worst:

Worst Rebel: Luke Skywalker (SW/13)4) had such potential. His point value was reasonable, and though Rescue special powers aren't so great for strikers, a greater than 60% probability of coming up white made him intriguing. What went wrong? Well, his head sculpt was more worthy of the short bus than a speeder bike, his lightsaber felt like a toothpick compared to Armored Vader's baseball bat, and his strike came diagonally, causing him to "top off" figures and thwack them down head over heels, rather than straight across the playing field. Apparently, those of us looking for a good "Jedi Luke" will have to wait quite a while longer. Dishonorable mention here goes to Series 3 Obi-Wan Kenobi: his hook strike was disadvantageous, and his special power rather bit (a 6-Tix Force Push?!?), but at least it was possible to get multiple knockdowns with him, and his strike could be modified to "backhand" figures across the playing field more than a few Tix. The double release of Captain Antilles in Series 3 was puzzling - such a minor character chewed up at least one space in the series that could have gone to another figure from A New Hope - but each figure was at least OK in quality.

Worst Empire: Royal Guard (SW/05)4) is a retool from Series 2 that is none the better for wear. There have been many reports of the top and bottom of this figure rubbing together too closely, leading to an anemic strike that has disappointed many a player. Unfortunately, it seems like this mold just doesn't work quite right, and the Force pike is too short to provide much good striking power, even if you have a working figure. Looks like some plastic needs to be eliminated from either the top or the bottom of this figure, if a remold is to be at all successful.

Blip of the Republic: There were two Republic figures issued in Series 4: the bonus figure with the S4 starter set, and the Clone Pilot that came packaged with the Republic Gunship repaint. The problem is that the Republic hasn't seen any major figures since Series 2, so many players new to the game were left puzzled as to how these figures would fit on their existing teams.

Nevertheless, the bonus figure was a nice addition for longer-term collectors, and it made the price per figure for the S4 bonus starter set hover at the $2 per figure that characterized the first three starter sets. However, the Clone Pilot added between $3-$5 to the cost of the Mega, a price that's hardly worth the figure's weak 10-point, small missile launching, small-based stats. Now, the Megas aren't tournament legal, so they're not "must haves," but it seems like the price has gone up too much for the additional figure you get.

What was I thinking in 2005? OK, I loved Kit Fisto, even in 2005. His striking power is legendary, he costs only 20 points, and his special power grants an extra attack to your team on its next turn more than 75% of the time. Why was this Nautolan not on my top five list last year? If you have a chance, this is the one named character to pick up from older series that will benefit just about any existing team.


Anonymous said...

Second place: Luke Skywalker (SW/21)3), (T/07)

Yes, this is a retool from Series 2, but for 10 more points, he gets a large base instead of a medium one and the ability to recover more than 60% of the time if you have a Rebel in play instead of a single Attackback for Republic or Rebel figures. Simply put, that means that a team of three Lukes and a random 10-point Rebel can keep popping back up over. And over. And over again. And while one pops up again, another can use a really powerful strike to cut a swath through your opponent's forces. The tournament version gives you everything that the booster version gives you - for 10 points less, maybe letting you use a Luke as Stormtrooper as your random Rebel - who might just bring in yet another of these farm boys when he falls!

My friend has 2 of these guys and he wins alot with them.

XOH General said...

i like wookie teams. they really work, and they are extremely hard to knock down. they are bigger so they weigh more, and the special powers/abilities work in perfect harmony