Top HeroClix Players Brawl and Smash at Las Vegas Comic Expo

Trophy Reading Las Vegas Comic Expo Heroclix Invitational 2013 with Heroclix on tableAt the recent 2013 Las Vegas Comic Expo some of the top HeroClix players in the country gathered for two days of tournament action. The crowning achievements in HeroClix organized play are the World Championships, which first took place at Gen Con in 2007. Beginning with Gen Con 2013, WizKids split the title into a Modern Age Champion and a Golden Age Champion. The Salt Lake City contingent at the Comic Expo was led by current Modern Age HeroClix World Champion Jake “Jeterey” Williams who brought two of his friends with him on the six-hour drive from Utah. Southern California players Pat Yapojco and Justin Jimenez – also familiar faces from Gen Con 2013 – brought even more friends from the LA area. Judging and organizing the event was another top player, Dustin Hall, who would have loved to play in it. In both 2011 and 2012 Hall was in the Top 10 at the World Championships. Also missing out on the playing action at the LVCE was Roland Wellington, a 2013 World Champion Top 8 finisher, who was manning the Cosmic Comics booth inside the exhibition hall at the expo. Wellington also has the distinction of having the first Masterpiece figure designed after winning the 2005 Wizard World HeroClix Championship Invitational Series in Los Angeles, selecting Wolverine as his figure. Saturday started with a Golden Age tournament and then switched to a charity tournament in the evening with the best prizes reserved for Sunday’s Modern Age tournament.

Golden Age Tournament: September 28

Team bases were predominant in Saturday’s Golden Age tourney with several New Mutant team bases, two X-Men Blue Strike Forces and one Hellfire Club. Other players favored figures on slightly smaller bases, including reigning Modern Champ Jake Williams, whose team revolved around Gotham City Police Department Cruisers.

Player Profile – Jake “Jeterey” Williams

From: Salt Lake City, UT
Day Job: Club DJ and Concert Promoter. Williams has a whole team of Go Go dancers who think it’s “hilarious” that he “plays with little plastic guys on the weekend. I can be at a club DJing on a Friday night and the next day be playing in a comic shop.”
Began Playing: 2004, 2005, “right after Legacy came out”.New York Yankees ball cap on Jake Williams head as he plays Heroclix
Favorite HeroClix Piece: “White Lantern Sinestro. It’s a fun figure, retired now, but it’s a really fun figure to play.”
Strategy for Golden Age:“To win? Kill them before they kill me.” Williams wanted to run people over with G.C.P.D. Cruisers again, with Talia from Batman Alpha and a Paramedic in his force as well. Williams devised the team after first coming up with another team that would beat everything except for cop cars/GCPD, so that’s the team he went with instead.
Favorite Power: “Any time you can deal damage without rolling the dice! Poison… there’s Star Trek ships with mines that do 3 damage.”
HC Realms Activity: Williams says he’s on it A LOT. “You have to though, because with all the powers, the questions, the rules, the new combos, if you don’t keep up on that stuff, someone else will and that someone else will beat you. I don’t mind getting outplayed, but I hate when I get beat by something that I just didn’t prepare for because I didn’t see it coming, you know, I didn’t study or I didn’t look it up. That’s when I get frustrated at myself.”
Other Games Played and Comics Read: None. He might pick up the WizKids Attack Wing game, “because it looks kind of fun.” The thing he likes about HeroClix is once you know how the game plays. it doesn’t matter if it’s Star Trek, Pacific Rim, or one of the video game franchises, the mechanics are the same. “Once you learn those mechanics, you’ve learned the game.” As for comics, Williams has read “a couple of Batmans over the years, one or two Marvel.” For him, it’s all about the game: “Can you outthink them? Can you bait them, can you get them? I like the strategy part of the game. That’s my favorite part of it. The superheroes are a bonus. That’s not why I play the game.”
Tokens: HC Realms tokens.

Williams explained that the age of turtling that saw HeroClix players KO an opponent’s piece and try to hide until time ran out is long over. “What was working a year ago isn’t working now. The game now is more about the Alpha Strike. If you can get across the map before they can and you can do a lot more damage than they can, right off the bat, that’s really what the game’s come to.” Williams quickly won his first match and was soon joined in victory by all of his Gen Con peers. Williams had time to elaborate: “We’re seeing figures coming out that can do 21-24 clicks of damage first turn. Ghost Rider with +2 Flurry and Heroes for Hire can do a ton of damage first turn. You can do crazy amounts of damage right now. It’s kind of a balance though. How can you withstand the Alpha Strike, but how can you also hit them before they hit you? It’s fun though. I’m having as much fun playing the game now as ever.”

Fresno player Frank Martinez had a dominating presence as he played, looking more like a linebacker than anything else as he scored several victories before he came to tower over Justin Jimenez. But Martinez was apprehensive as he acknowledged his opponent’s force, “The Blue Strike Team Bases are vicious. Realistically I’m going to have to deliver a lot of damage early before he starts popping off his characters, because he’s going to drastically increase his force size as compared to mine. So I’m going to have to hope that Madame Webb ends on a good ability. She’s random. I’m playing with Lady Luck here in Las Vegas; I am a gambling man, that’s why I brought the team I brought.” As it happened, Martinez’s luck ran out and Jimenez defeated the Fresno police officer.

Player Profile – Frank Martinez

From: Fresno, CA
Home Store: DJ’s Comics and CollectiblesCloseup of HeroClix player Frank Martinez smiling
Day Job: Police officer.
Began Playing: June, 2012, around Batman: Streets of Gotham and No Man’s Land
Favorite HeroClix Piece: “Marvel 10th Anniversary Thor with the lightning backdrop, Avengers Initiative, Running Shot, 11 Attack, 4 Damage, with a solid defense. He’s not playable competitively; he lacks certain abilities and additional team abilities that make him successful. Even if I put a Bat Belt on him, I have to use another piece to get him across the board. Really, Heroes for Hire is so hot everyone has to play it. He lacks the multiple attacks that they have.”
Golden Age Strategy: “My premise is to get Alpha Strike. Obviously with the introduction of Shatterstar into the game from Wolverine & X-Men, and this being Golden Age, I’m able to utilize a lower-point character like Iron Fist who has an incredible attack and damage power and attack abilities, as in he can penetrate defenses or I can do multiple attacks. Coupled with the ATA of Heroes for Hire, I can get off possibly 4 attacks, up to 12 damage in one turn. Madame Web is a support piece that transports across the board to support Iron Fist and Shatterstar. Madame Web can be given a power action and she can be placed near friendlies.”
Other Games Played: None. But Martinez has a “very extensive comic book habit”, favoring Superman and Thor. The sculpts of those figures are what got him into HeroClix. Between his wife and kids and his work in law enforcement, HeroClix is all that he has time for. As for whether he plays HeroClix with his children, Martinez said of his son, “He knows Super Senses, but he’s still too young.”

The Final Bout: Blue on Blue, Justin Jimenez vs. Pat Yapojco

A loud whoop of “Blue on Blue!” signaled the end of the third round as a player realized that Justin Jimenez and Pat Yapojco’s X-Men Blue Strike Force team bases would be having a doppleganger fight with one another. The strength of the Blue Strike Force is something that Jake Williams has come to respect. He got caught at Dragon*Con by that particular team base when it was brand new. In that bout it was Gambit who stunned Williams, when the character’s Energy Explosion hit Williams’ whole team for 5. Lesson learned! “You can study and prepare as much as you want, but there still could be something out there, some trick or mechanic that you didn’t prepare for, that just catches you off [guard],” Williams advised. However for Jimenez and Yapojco there would be no surprises as both knew the team base inside and out.

Player Profile – Pat “spawn10” Yapjoco

From: Costa Mesa, CA
Day Job: Owner of two Majestix Comics & Games stores, one in Huntington Beach and the other in Costa Mesa, CA.
Home Store: His own Majestix stores (primarily Huntington Beach)!
Began Playing HeroClix: 2002Smiling Heroclix Player Pat Yapojco in a plaid shirt
Favorite HeroClix Piece: Web of Spiderman Bullseye. “He can ignore Stealth, Supersenses, and Shapechange. I hate Supersenses and Shapechange! Those are the worst powers. He just hits. His attack is high. He’s got good stats. He’s not broken, he’s just efficient.”
About Majestix: The store in Huntington Beach has four glass cases with just singles, each one four feet high. In the area they are the only store selling singles consistently. “People are always trading, selling, and buying. Even if it’s sold out, we have them. Gotham, Chaos War Fast Forces, Marvel 10th, DC 10th. We have a really, really big stock.” Despite his large stock, Yapjoco borrows a lot of stuff from other players, preferring to sell everything that he can at his store. Yapjoco would sell prizes won at tournaments like the LVCE’s R.O.C. or turn around and use them himself in his own Majestix events.
Golden Age Strategy for X-Men Blue: “Just make sure I don’t miss an attack, because they can do a lot of damage. And one of their abilities is they basically don’t miss.” Yapjoco picked the X-Men Blue Strike Force based on what he and his Majestix team have “been playing. We don’t know what else to expect. We tested against various archetypes. The consensus seems to be that we have the best chance against everything.”

Yapojco has attended and played in Gen Con’s HeroClix tournaments for the last three years, finishing in the Top 32 last year after going 1-1 in the finals. Unfortunately his points weren’t high enough to move onto the Final 16. Jiminez has much less experience, but had higher rankings at Gen Con 2013, placing in the Top 8 in the Modern Championship and the Top 16 in Golden Age. Returning to Saturday afternoon’s action, Gambit remained firmly in place on both players’ Team Bases during the battle which was characterized by Yapojco’s methodical, patient gameplay.

HeroClix players Justin Jimenez and Pat Yapojco face off with X-Men Team Bases in a tournament

It’s Blue vs. Blue: Justin Jimenez Stands as He Battles Smiling Mentor Pat Yapojco

Yapojco’s patience was eventually rewarded with victory over Jimenez, but both players’ Team Bases were nearly stripped bare of their figures by the end of the tit-for-tat match that witnessed both players sacrificing models to ensure successful attacks using one of the X-Men’s special powers.

Two X-Men Blue Team Bases in a battle to the death

X-Men Blue Team Bases Clash! Both Still Have Their Gambits and Rogues

Saturday Evening Charity Tournament

Saturday evening’s Charity Tournament was quite a success, raising $465 for St. Jude’s Children Hospital. The $5 entry fee for each player was far eclipsed by the tournament’s allowance of a dice reroll for a $1 donation. $105 was raised because of the epic 12-minute dice reroll-off between two opponents in just one of the the tournament’s games. Justin Jimenez eventually won the tournament and five Phoenix Force HeroClix surrounded by transparent plastic flames for his efforts.

ROCs, The Path to Gen Con and Dragon*Con, and the World Championships

Despite having some of the top Heroclix players in the entire world present, there was still a lot of confusion about the ROC nature of the tournament or even just what R.O.C. stands for. The R.O.C. is the Realms Open Championship, which is a series of regional tournament qualifiers culminating in the Open HeroClix Championship(s) at Dragon*Con in Atlanta. Created and sponsored by HCRealms.com, the first set of six ROCs ended at Dragon*Con 2013. Many at the Las Vegas Realms Open Championship at LVCE thought that the event was the first in the next series of ROCs in the expanded program for the 2014 season. In fact though, according to ROC Director Howard Brock, the designation of the LVCE tournament as a ROC event was more of a favor than anything else, a personal favor which was also extended to a September event in Kentucky. The actual ROC 2014 season will begin in December and end at Dragon*Con 2014.

While the Las Vegas players seemed to be enjoying themselves, it was evident that many expected a larger turnout. In terms of attendance, the Majestix Open Series 1K R.O.C., which was held in April, far surpassed Las Vegas Comic Expo’s showing of perhaps 16 players. The Majestix 1K drew about 100 people, according to Majestix owner Pat Yapojco, with many traveling from Utah, Nevada, and Oregon to participate as well as Northern and Southern California. For Yapojco the prestige of the event was key and he called it “the best competition in California.”

The 2014 ROC Season Explained

At the LVCE ROC, Dustin Hall collected and examined team rosters, answered rules questions, kept the time, and made periodic announcements as the clock wound down, but Hall had a hard time elaborating the specifics of the ROC points that players would collect by participating or naming an exact dollar amount for the finals at Dragon*Con. On October 4, ROC Director Howard Brock clarified a great number of things over the phone. For starters, when Hall applied for the event to be a part of the ROC, the ROC organizers “weren’t ready,” but wanted to throw Hall a bone and allowed him to term it a ROC tournament. But calling it a ROC event is a bit of a misnomer since ROC events are characterized by physical prize support and the host must pay for the tournament package that HCRealms supplies. Nevertheless, the winner of the LVCE ROC will receive 100 ROC points for playing.

For the 2014 season, HCRealms is joining forces with TCGPlayer.com to launch a host of Super Qualifiers and other ROC events throughout the United States, Canada, and even England. What were previously known as ROC Regionals will now be called Super Qualifiers. The ROC is also doing away with travel vouchers and Dragon*Con badges as prizes, which Brock identified as being underutilized by winning players. Instead players will have the chance to win Limited Edition convention prizes, hats, trophies, and ranking cards. The cost of purchasing a Super Qualifier tournament pack has also dropped from $1000 to $650 with more prizes offered now than in the past. T-shirts have also been abandoned in favor of hats due to the difficulty and hassle involved in providing players the proper-sized shirts. Deluxe play mat maps using mousepad material are also in the works for prizing, Brock was particularly excited to add.

Super Qualifiers, Qualifiers, and League Play

The top tier of ROC play will be the Super Qualifiers, which will cost $650. Hosts, whether they be conventions or game stores, can purchase and run the Super Qualifiers with many stores like Majestix in Southern California already signed up to run events in December. Besides any other prizes, the first place winner of a ROC tournament will win a card for 100 ROC points. While the points can be used to gain entry into the Dragon*Con Realms Open Championship, the card can also be traded, sold, auctioned, or given away. Additionally there is a third possible use of the card, which will be accessible via TCGPlayer; players will be able to use their ROC points cards at the website for prizes in the HeroClix section, but must mail the physical card(s) in. The suggested entry fee for Super Qualifier players is $25.

Qualifiers are smaller events with only 20 ROC points going to the winner, besides any other prizes. Their cost will be $200 with a suggested entry fee of $15. League kits are only $100 with a suggested entry fee of $10. Brock pointed out that a store owner would recoup the cost with only 10 players. Sticking with tens, League winners will also earn 10 ROC Points.

Top 32 to Split $20,000 and Other Prizes at Dragon*Con

There will be a Super Qualifier on Friday night at next year’s Dragon*Con, which will be followed on Saturday morning by Heat 1 with Heat 2 on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning will have Swiss-format semi-finals before the tournament ends Sunday afternoon in single elimination. The ROC Points Cards come into play in bypassing the early qualifiers. Owners of a 100 Points card can exchange it for entry into Heat 2 on Saturday while 200 Points can buy one’s way into Sunday morning’s semi-finals.

Brock confirmed that the Top 32 players will receive cash prizes in addition to the many other HeroClix prizes up for grabs with the total pot being $20,000. The official ROC announcement with even more details on the division of the $20,000 as well as WizKids’ involvement is forthcoming, delayed in part due to WizKids’ full plate at the Alliance Open House this weekend, October 4-6.

Customized Marvel HeroClix of Iron Fist in Justin Jimenez's collection

Justin Jimenez’s Modded Iron Fist Attracted a Lot of Attention

But speaking of prizes, Modern Champ Jake Williams said of his Gen Con win, “WizKids really took care of me on prize support. I got a lot of stuff to sell.” He clarified that his World Championship winnings ended up paying for his trip to Dragon*Con as well. As part of being a World Champion, Williams also gets to help design a Masterpiece figure and chose the Batman villainess Harley Quinn for that honor, but could not disclose any details of the upcoming figure.

As for the World Championships, which are held at Gen Con, players can gain entry typically only by playing at WizKids-run events or by playing directly at Gen Con in a series of grinders. Another route is via HeroClix Online. That’s how Roland Wellington won his “buy” for Gen Con 2013. In the process, he needed to go through Jake Williams online and beat him, which forced Jeterey to work his way through the grinders to gain his eventual championship. While Wellington obviously did not fare as well offline, he did place in the Top 8 in Modern.

Player Profile – Roland Wellington

From: Las Vegas, NV
Day Job: Cosmic Comics
Began Playing: “Day 4. HeroClix debuted on a Wednesday. I went to my local store for Friday Night Magic; I was a senior in college. I played and I had one of those Magic nights where you just get stomped. My deck did not work; I lost to two kids. I was ready to throw something (I was a little younger then). So I dropped. I walked by and saw that on the Mage Knight table they had Hulk fighting Spiderman and I was like ‘What IS this?!’ They told me the game. I bought my starter the next day. Been playing ever since.”
Favorite HeroClix Piece: Ultimate Thor from the Ultimates set. “The way that figure is designed is it’s just a monster of a figure. We love it. Me and my friends are big wrestling fans, so that figure got the nickname Triple H, because we kept wanting him to play Thor if they ever made the movie. I remember one time I was doing a training session with some of my younger friends and they really weren’t using him right. I was like ‘No, in this situation you want to attack, you want to go.’ And they were trying to Break Away or something. And me and my buddy said ‘No, you need to do this! And do you know why? Because THOR HITS FOR 5!’ So that saying, ‘Thor hits for 5,’ has just become a saying where it means do what that figure needs to do, just attack and punch someone in the face. He’s kind of the epitome of that philosophy. He does crazy amounts of damage. Just that way that the figure is designed, he’s designed to be pushed, he’s designed to hit Mystics, he’s designed to do stuff that you’re not supposed to do. A couple years ago we had a high level tournament in town for a chase Dr. Manhattan and I was running Thor in one of the teams and it was an old school one and and a buddy of mine was playing a Wildcard Mystic Abuse team and he’s sitting there and he’s like ‘I know Roland. He’s not going to push Thor.’ Nope, I’m pushing Thor on a Mystic and do you know why? Because HE HITS FOR 5, that’s what he’s supposed to do. Just annihilated his team in like three turns. So yeah, Triple H.”
HeroClix Online: “I’m currently, right now, the top ranked online player on HeroClix Online. I’m also the commissioner of the Online Free League and we’re starting our next season coming up in November. It’s up and running fully. They’ve got all the kinks kicked out of the UI. They’re growing the fan base, they’re growing the gameplay. I tell all my players in physical life, you guys really need to play this online because it really tightens up your game. It really does getting you knowing the proper procedures and the order of operations. It’s a really good learning tool for physical players as well. It doesn’t leave room for mistakes. If you miss something online, then you miss it. That’s why it really tightens up players’ games.”

Sunday Modern Age Championship

Compared to the previous day, Sunday’s HeroClix tournament was surrounded in an air of secrecy. Team rosters were covered up to protect them from other players’ eyes and there was no discussion about them. The players would be fighting for Top 8 ranking with first choice of the eight prizes going to the first place winner and down the line as each player would draft their rewards. The best prizes were the sealed “bricks” of Fear Itself (1) and Wolverine & The X-Men (2) with Limited Edition figures Shuma Gorath and the Trinity of Evil rounding them out, as well as other chase figures from Dustin Hall’s private collection. But once play began it was clear that for most of the top players, the tournament was truly about bragging rights and honor.

Pat Yapojco and Justin Jimenez received buys from their placement the day before, leaving other players to duke it out. Jake Williams quickly tabled his Las Vegas opponent. Others eventually followed with many of the vanquished going on to compete in a $25 sealed event because the Modern Age tournament was single elimination. Many of the teams in the Top 8 included Iron Fist, Shatterstar, and Madame Web, including Frank Martinez’s team. Martinez ended up finishing in 5th place and selected the Trinity of Evil as his prize when his turn came up. He was also all smiles once eliminated and was encouraged by his showing, promising to get even better at competitive HeroClix.

Heroclix Players playing Modern Age Tournament at Las Vegas Comic Expo

Modern Age Players (L to R): Pat Yapojco, Frank Martinez, Jake Williams All in a Row

The Final Four

In the penultimate round, Pat Yapojco faced off across from Jake Williams, while Justin Jimenez battled against Las Vegan Alex Pereda. Faces were grim as dice were rolled and figures moved across the map. There were no shouts of exultation, though more than one competitor grimaced, while occasional spectators drifted up to catch snippets of the games. In the Golden Age tournament Alex Pereda had wound up on the bottom tables, but his mixed Modern Age force served him much better.

Player Profile – Alex Pereda

From: Las Vegas, NV
Home Store: Maximum Comics #2
Day Job: Shipping and receiving in a warehouse.
Began Playing: February, 2012.Baseball cap wearing Heroclix player Alex Pereda
Favorite HeroClix Piece: Secret Invasion Namor. “Nobody ever goes ‘Namor, he’s my favorite!’ Namor is the first character that I got. He was in there. I didn’t play him until later. Oh my god, this guy is so awesome. He does so much strong stuff, deals out a lot of damage, which is comic-accurate, that’s what the character does.”
Tokens: Poker chips, because “they just make the board look much neater.” He used to use small dice.
Other Games Played: DC Deck Builder: “it’s really, really fun!”. “I played Magic for a while. This [HeroClix] grabbed my attention way more. This is way more fun.” Pereda has enjoyed trying new board games that he’s seen demoed, such as Munchkin – Axe Hero on Saturday evening at the Las Vegas Comic Expo.
On Team Bases: “I like competitive stuff. The only problem I have with the game is the Team Bases. It takes the fun out of building a team.”

Pereda’s mixed force was eventually overwhelmed by Jimenez’s, while the adjoining table witnessed a string of bad luck as Williams rolled a 4, 4, 3, 4 on his attack rolls and re-rolls during one round. What made the bad luck even harsher for Williams was the fact that he had allowed Yapojco to Perplex his Team Base’s Defense stat up by 1 at the start of his own turn, Yapojco having forgotten to do so at the end of his own turn. Such lenience is not possible on HeroClix Online, which is one of the reasons that Roland Wellington encourages use of the program as a training tool, but having extended the courtesy to Yapojco, Williams was obliged to watch as his own team was destroyed, leaving him in third place. Williams took it in stride and both he and Alex Pereda plan on a Gen Con 2014 presence.

The Modern Age Finals: Pat Yapojco vs. Justin Jimenez

Immediately after defeating Justin Jimenez the day before, Pat Yapojco returned to teammate and mentor mode and began offering the younger player advice on what he should have done differently. Together they had come to the consensus that running the X-Men Blue Strike Forces afforded the best chance of winning the Golden Age tournament. They also based their Modern Age forces, in part, around what they had seen used in Saturday’s games. In the end, Yapojco switched to the more affordable New Mutants Team Base with the addition of the devastating Shatterstar, while Jimenez switched to a team made up of his beloved Iron Fist, Spiral, a Batcycle, and two cardboard Warbot pogs. Both teams had done well, but now the two Majestix players faced off again.

Heroclix game with Batcycle spewing Smoke Clouds and Spiral Figure with Warbots

Jimenez’s Bat Cycle Spews Smoke in an Attempt to Block Line of Fire

Jimenez set up defensively and put up Smoke Clouds, preparing to receive an Alpha Strike. Using a retractable string to measure Line of Fire, Yapojco shot at Jimenez’s clustered figures and scored a hit. He followed up by teleporting behind Jimenez’s lines with Shatterstar and Rictor. The seismic-themed superhero launched a Quake. It looked grim for Jimenez, but according to him, it was all part of the plan: “When he first came in, I was a little worried, but I knew that Iron Fist could still catch him. The crit hit made it even sweeter. He actually helped me when he critted me.” With some of his figures suffering Knock Back from the doubles rolled on the crit hit, they were forced out of base-to-base contact with Shatterstar and Rictor, which freed them up considerably.

Closeup picture of Batcycle, Shatterstar, Rictor, and Spiral in ROC final match at Las Vegas Comic Expo 2013

The Alpha Strike: Shatterstar and Rictor Appear Within Jimenez’s Lines and Rictor Quakes

Jimenez’s main response was to dismount Iron Fist from his cool Bat ride and move him over towards the Team Base. “I picked Flurry because I had looked at the dial before because 5 damage either way puts him on his last click, because he’s got Toughness, so I do 4 and 4 for 8, he’s 9 clicks deep. Basically what I was going for was to do let him do first strike, because he’s going to do it no matter what and I was going to put him on his last click.” Iron Fist proceeded to do just that (and maybe a bit more) and soon the Team Base was no more, leaving Iron Fist and Spiral to mop up Shatterstar and Rictor, which secured first place for Justino.

When asked if the results were a bit like Obi-Wan versus Darth Vader, Jimenez agreed saying that Pat “struck me down yesterday” during the Golden Age Blue on Blue game and added that it was a “very rough, rough map” that Pat had picked the day before. While this was his first time for top honors in an important HeroClix tournament, based on his strong showing in all three of the weekend’s events and his past performance at Gen Con, it’s safe to say that it won’t be Justin Jimenez’s last.

Victorious Heroclix player Justin Jimenez with the 2013 Vegas ROC Trophy at the Las Vegas Comic Expo

Player Profile – Justin “Justino” Jimenez

From: Montebello, CA
Home Store: Majestix (primarily Huntington Beach)
Day Job: Electrical engineer on a railroad, “making sure trains don’t crash into each other.”Closeup of Heroclix player Justin Jimenez smiling at a tournament table
Began Playing: Infinity Challenge [2002]. Justino began playing competitively a year ago.
Favorite HeroClix Piece: Nightcrawler from Web of Spiderman. “That’s where you can just go and pop out, and grab someone, hit them, pull ’em back, drag them, and basically beat them up again.” He also later added that Iron Fist also tops his list: “Iron Fist with the Utility Belt is an absolute beast. Being able to put +2s on all your guy’s stats, he’s got Combat Reflexes, ignores everything, so you cannot lock him down. The only thing that can lock him down is a cop car, but usually when you put +2s on him, he’ll be hitting you for 12 damage and will take out a cop car in one shot. He’s just one of the most versatile, very low point cost characters. If you match him up with other Heroes for Hire he can be just so deadly with the new ATA [Alternative Team Ability].”
Tokens: Poker chips (black and white).
Other Games Played: Settlers of Catan with his family. “I have two brothers, two sisters. Five people everyday at Catan is pretty intense.” Risk, Monopoly, Dominion. Family Business, “It’s a mobster game.” Nothing Personal, “I bought it at Gen Con. You basically go through this list of gangsters, but it looks good.” Xbox 360 and PS3. He doesn’t play any other CMGs because it would be too much money he would be spending. He used to play chess when he was younger and in 8th grade he won a Southern California Unified School District chess tournament. Jimenez contrasted chess with HeroClix: “The only difference is the dice roll. In chess, there is no dice roll. You make good moves and depending on how you position, you can trap other figures. You can manipulate. When I use my background when I build and move teams or move people into a certain position, it’s because everything’s for a reason. If you’re going to put someone here, is it because you want them to overextend? All those things count. The only thing is, this is more advanced, it’s a little bit more fun, it’s a little bit more versatile. The superheroes are more childhood-oriented.”
Craziest In Game Experience: “At the Majestix 1K, I had a Hobgoblin basically Alpha Strike, TK’d out, Running Shot, Pulse Wave and rolls two 6’s and does I think 16 worth of damage to all my characters and put tokens on all my guys. I was pretty much done after that. I lost that game. I could deal with everyone taking 1, but it was just 2-2-2 and Knockback damage. It was crazy.”
Golden Age Strategy for X-Men Blue Team Base: “X-Men Blue’s got a really, really deep defense and with their new special [power], Invincible it’s really good. Jeterey who obviously won with the cars [at Gen Con], I’m expecting maybe one or two people to play that, if they do play that. Basically the cars do 1 unavoidable damage, but Invincible says that you ignore half damage dealt, so unless you deal more than 2 damage, you can’t hurt X-Men Blue, so there comes a point where you hit that power and the cop cars can’t bump. And that was Jeterey’s famous trick when he played Massu, he bumped him to death and didn’t even have to roll. I had a very similar team to him, but one thing that was very tough was that I didn’t win map rolls, so it’s hard to run up and down stairs with a car; they’re not built for that.”

lvcerealmsopenchampionship2013JustinJimenezwithTrophyDustinHallbackground

ROC Winner Justin Jimenez Receives His Trophy From Event Organizer Dustin Hall

Kapow! Las Vegas Comic Expo Set to Kick Ass (Too)

What: Las Vegas Comic Expo
Where: Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
When: September 28-29, 2014
How Much: $20-45 a Person
Website: http://lasvegascomicexpo.com

The Las Vegas Comic Expo returns this weekend to Las Vegas, hosted at the Riviera Hotel and Casino and runs from September 28 to September 29. The weekend show will pack in some big names and talent including comic book legend Neal Adams (Batman, X-Men, Green Lantern-Green Arrow), Joe Benitez (the exceptionally illustrated steampunk-themed Lady Mechanika), and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets), and Image Comics co-founder Whilce Portacio among dozens of other comic book writers and artists. Among the celebrity guests, male gamers who grew up in the 1990s will recognize Donna D’errico (Baywatch), while everyone should know the hulking form of Lou Ferrigno. The Excorcist’s Linda Blair has high billing along with True Blood’s Kristin Bauer, but for sci-fi/fantasy fans and gamers alike, who could beat Sylvester McCoy? Sure, he played the seventh Dr. Who, which by itself is platinum in geek culture, but he’s also Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit! It’s not too often that you get a chance to meet someone who has a miniature sculpted in his likeness (though that may change thanks to Mimic Miniatures Personalized Gaming Miniatures Kickstarter).

Tickets are $25 per day per person or $45 for the whole weekend at the door, but if you pre-register tonight (September 25), you can get in for $35 for the weekend or $20 a day. Doors open at 10 AM and close on Saturday at 7PM and 5PM on Sunday, though on Saturday night there will be a Cosplay Contest running from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM, much like San Diego Comic-Con’s Masquerade. But compared to SDCC, the Las Vegas Comic Expo (LVCE) is a much more intimate affair, with an attendance last year of just over 7,000. This year attendance is expected to remain consistent, if not exceed the inaugural year, which featured comic creators like Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy. Panels will run throughout Saturday and Sunday this weekend on topics ranging from “Zombies and Pop Culture”, “Women in Comics” to “Fantasy Writers” to “Promote Your Comic Book or Die”. While larger comic conventions have multiple competing panels, at the LVCE attendees will only have to choose from either the Main or Annex panels, so seating may be limited, especially at focused panels spotlighting a celebrity such as Sunday’s “Sylvester McCoy: The Hobbit” and “Kristen Bauer” on Saturday.

Gaming at the Las Vegas Comic Expo


The LVCE isn’t only about comic books, fantasy, science fiction, and popular culture, of course. It will also offer a lot of gaming, including many demos of games to the general public featuring King of Tokyo, Heroclix, X-Wing Miniatures, and Netrunner, which should be easy enough for casual gamers to pick up. On Sunday AEG’s Legend of the 5 Rings card game will be demoed from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM, which sounds like just enough time for a beginner to learn the mechanics of the incredibly complex card game. Roleplaying games will be supported with a strong Pathfinder contingent providing Beginner Box Bashes throughout the day in addition to Pathfinder Society Scenarios Mists of Mwangi, Black Waters, both parts of The City of Strangers, and one of the newest scenarios, PSS 05-04 The Stolen Heir, wherein heroes attempt to rescue a nobleman’s daughter, as well as the high-level PSS 05-05 The Elven Entanglement. For a full list of Pathfinder organized play at the Comic Expo, check out the Warhorn listings.

Gaming Tournaments at the LVCE

Tentacled eye stalk monster Shuma Gorath heroclix figure

Shuma Gorath in All His/Her/Its Glory!

Besides the demos of board, card, and roleplaying games, the LVCE will also incorporate a number of tournaments. On Saturday afternoon Patrick Booth will be running an entry-level Ascension tournament, followed by a DC Deckbuilder Tournament on Sunday. The winner of Ascension will take home a voucher for the newly-released Darkness Unleashed expansion, with the DC Deckbuilder winner receiving a voucher for the as-of-yet-unreleased DC2, which will release in December. Both come courtesy of Avatar Comics and Games. New players to Ascension can try out the game before the tournament, during the earlier demo sessions, and simply need to pony up the $5 to participate in the tournament, with all cards and counters supplied by Avatar. Las Vegas’s largest dedicated gaming store, Little Shop of Magic, will be running Magic: The Gathering tournaments on Saturday and Sunday based on Friday’s release of the much-anticipated Theros expansion with prize support coming from the store. Meanwhile Maximum Comics will provide prize support and run HeroClix tournaments on each day, as well as Marvel Legendary and Star Wars LCG tournaments. Prizes for Heroclix include such convention exclusive figures as Shuma Gorath (from Dr. Strange) and the Trinity of Sin (from DC Comics’ recent Trinity War), which have attracted the notice of some of the top contenders at the recent Heroclix World Championships, which were held in August at Gen Con, according to Dustin Hall. Hall, the LVCE Games Director, has already received notice of players traveling from Utah and California to compete. For an overview of prize support and tournament entry fees, please refer to the LVCE’s gaming page. As for miniature games such as Warhammer 40K or Warmachine/Hordes convention games organizer Dustin Hall says that there are plans to address that portion of the gaming community next year.

And Plenty of Cosplay

Besides Saturday evening’s Cosplay Contest, there will be many cosplay-themed panels and cosplayers in evidence at the LVCE. Cosplay queen Jacqueline Goehner is just one of many female cosplayers who will be sitting in on panels like “Cosplay 101”, “Kids Cosplay”, and “Business of Cosplay”. Goehner will be debuting her Starfire costume which will – based on her Witchblade costume worn at previous conventions – leave little to the imagination. While Starfire is an orange-skinned super heroine famous from DC’s Teen Titans, Goehner will also be cosplaying as Midna the Twilight Princess from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which should see her a bit more clothed. Goehner’s panel participation will include one on wig making and styling, another on making a body cast, and another on the process of making a Witchblade costume. Besides her Starfire and Midna costumes, Goehner also plans on cosplaying Wonder Woman and has plans for a fourth costume, but admits that she probably will not finish it in time for the convention.

Scantily clad cosplayer in Witchblade costume named Jackie Goehner

Goehner as Witchblade and Herself: At LVCE She Will Unveil Her Starfire and Midna Costumes

Blonde hair and a trident mark a cosplayer playing as Aquawoman at Phoenix Comic Con

Brieanna Brock as Aqua Woman at Phoenix Comic-Con

Also going as her favorite character of Wonder Woman will be Brieanna Brock, but she will be playing as the Red Son version of the character. In the Red Son universe created by Mark Millar, Superman is raised by Soviets instead of the Kents in Kansas. The Wonder Woman of that universe is much grimmer in appearance. Not to worry, the second character Brock will be playing is Leila from Code Geass, who will add a bit of color in with her costume. Brock’s Red Son Wonder Woman will be bolstered by a Red Son Power Girl and several other Red Son-inspired DC characters. Brock will be busy at the LVCE leading the Cosplaying 101 panel and helping the other panelists as the cosplay director. Brock has recently branched out past the superhero genre into the twin worlds of anime and manga which is what led her from only having read Death Note to exploring the world of Code Geass. As she says of her choice of Leila, “I love powerful characters that are portrayed as leaders and also value a team.” Both of the costumes are brand new for Brieanna Brock, who loves the challenge that a new costume provides. Speaking of her Red Son Wonder Woman Brock says “it was definitely a challenge and after being finished I feel proud to bring that inspiration to life. Showing it off is fun too, it’s a perfect opportunity to educate others about the character, the series, and cosplaying in general.”

In the female-dominated world that is cosplay, there are pockets of masculinity, which will be represented at the Las Vegas Comic Expo by the 501st Neon Garrison of Stormtroopers who will be featured in their own panel on Saturday.

The First Las Vegas Comic Expo

Three T-Shirt Designs from Zombie vs. Human I Run With Zombies Zombie Eating Power Up Mushroom and Zombie Unicorn or Zombiecorn

Zombie vs. Human Shirts

In 2012, Ralph Mathieu, owner of Las Vegas’ own Alternate Reality Comics attended and exhibited at the first Las Vegas Comic Expo and spoke highly of the experience as well as his vendor sales. Mathieu is particularly looking forward to seeing writer Gerry Conway at this year’s expo. Conway co-created The Punisher, helped kill off Gwen Stacy, and created the DC character Firestorm, but it’s his Spiderman-Superman crossover which Mathieu holds in particularly high esteem. Alternate Reality Comics is joined by many other Las Vegas local comic book stores in the exhibitors’ hall including Maximum Comics, Avatar Comics and Games, and Comic Oasis. Avatar chief Kristian Norberg said that the previous year was a “success” for his store and ran “fairly well”, paying for the booth rental and then some. Besides selling comics and merchandise to attendees, Norberg was able to take in and enjoy the Artists’ Alley at the 2012 LVCE. Any fears he had of a comic convention fiasco, such as the one Las Vegas witnessed in 2003 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, were allayed by his experience the first year.

And Other Exhibitors

L.A.-based Zombie vs. Human will be exhibiting at the Las Vegas Comic Expo, selling a variety of men’s and women’s T-shirts with zombie themes, all in an effort for customers to be prepared “for the zombie apocalypse”. For proprietor Aaron Berg, the Comic Expo is a chance to be among like-minded company for whom their clothing line requires little to no explanation.

Wizkids Premier Seminar – GTS 2012

District 12 the Game from WizKids box cover art.

Image courtesy WizKids

Justin Ziran, President of WizKids, spoke on March 13 to an audience of mostly experienced retailers. WizKids has an impressive release schedule for the calendar year and the mood was positive and upbeat. Citing Fandango ticket pre-orders for “The Hunger Games”, Ziran pointed out that it will very likely be the next cultural phenonomen on the order of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings. Wizkids is launching a number of tie-in games related to the movie’s release, based on the popular series by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games line of collectible miniatures will feature 27 figures, with tributes from all 12 districts. Jabberjay has a MSRP of $9.99 and is a card game of secrets and betrayal, while District 12 is a more typical board game.

They also have a Smurfs game and E.T. figures coming out which, to me, resemble the previously-released Gremlins or Freddy vs. Jason sets, which have a play mat and 7+ figures.

Jabberjay Card Game from WizKids

Image courtesy of WizKids

Ziran moved on to several other WizKids successes, mentioning that the Mage Knight Board Game sold out of its initial run in 20 days. Another successful sell-out was Star Trek: Tactics. Wizkids is aware that some customers have been buying it to play Star Fleet Battles. Switching games slightly to Star Trek: Fleet Captains, Wizkids trumpeted reviews of it as “the best Star Trek game ever produced”. There are expectations of doing expansions and Ziran noted that the Romulans are missing. Wizkids will also be releasing a Hobbit Heroclix game tied to the release of the movie that will play in an hour to an hour and a half.

Pathfinder Battles

Bryan Kinsella, a VP at WizKids Games, presented on Pathfinder Battles, announcing the release of four much larger figures to be sold as a case. Several retailers expressed their concerns about the four-figure cases proposed, pointing out that collectors would simply “buy the cases online”. Someone then suggested 6 figures to a case (including repeats) which would reduce the likelihood that a collector would purchase the entire case. Kinsella showed a colossal incentive Pathfinder Battles figure, the Rune Giant, standing 6 inches tall, and 8 inches to the tip of his sword. WizKids politely declined my request for images of these figures to share, but Seoni’s figure was Kinsella’s personal favorite as he “personally likes the motion” of the sculpt.

Heroclix

An assortment of Wizkids merchandise including the previously-released Galactus and possibly the Abomination.Jerome Gonyeau next stepped in. He reminded retailers that they can still get in on the Infinity Gauntlet prize support saying that “four cases is a breeze to go through in 3 months of play”. Several retailers near me remarked that they could go through four cases in three weeks. Gonyeau then moved briskly through various release dates, images of figures, and numbers in the sets. Of interest to me was his announcement that WizKids will be having 3-figure thematically tied sets, such as Shield teams or Hydra soldiers to tie in with the release of the Avengers movie. Another Marvel product that will be released is a Galactus in a box (as opposed to the previous prize support Galactus figure).

The Watcher and other Heroclix figures as well as other Wizkids product from their GAMA Trade Show Booth.Wizkids next reacted to a a question about Organized Play prize support being sold on eBay and what WizKids was doing to combat illegimate use of their OP prizes. Ziran announced that WizKids takes such things very seriously and that they have a discretionary policy in place to deal with such violations. He said that he pursues it in the spirit of the law, and not the letter of the law, so if there is even a whiff of impropriety, WizKids is interested.

DC Heroclix – Batman will come out in the fall along with the vehicles appearing in Heroclix. This was further clarified at the dinner that evening when the Batmobile was shown. Batman – Streets of Gotham will also include Birds of Prey, the Outsiders, and a “team never seen before in DC” which was subsequently revealed to be Jim Lee’s Wildcats. There is also Batman – The Dark Knight Rises scheduled for release later in the year with its 30+ figures. I do have to note as a casual Heroclix player that the newer sculpts shown at the GAMA Trade Show do seem substantially better than previous ones.

Responding to a comment from the audience that Wizkids was not game retailer-focused, but instead mass-market focused, Justin Ziran explained that when he heard that various WizKids Hunger Games products were in Hot Topic accidentally, within 5 minutes he was on the phone with Diamond Alliance, telling them to release the products to retailers.

Moving on, Ziran also revealed that they’ve been toying with the idea of scenario packs for Heroclix featuring a map and a big bad guy to fight against. When asked about Horrorclix, Justin Ziran replied that “Horrorclix is not on the menu. There’s a reason that Horrorclix isn’t around anymore.” When asked whether WizKids wasn’t oversaturating with so many releases, WizKids responded by saying that they had expected the question much earlier. Several retailers voiced their support for WizKids releases and one retailer earlier was overflowing with thanks to WizKids for the presence of Adam Warlock in his store (and the ensuing sales generated) saying that Warlock had “changed the face of the game” in his store. While I did not catch WizKids actual response to the question of oversaturation, Ziran affirmed that “Marvel and DC are our tent poles.”

How Not to Win Her Over This Valentine’s: Throwing Games

My Disenchanting Magic: The Gathering Losses

Once upon a time, in 2001, I was seeing a girl. While we shared some of the same musical and movie interests, her love of anime far exceeded my own. We watched show after show together, OAV after OAV. At some point though, yearning to game, I taught her how to play Magic: The Gathering.

We spent many pleasant hours playing the game. Since I taught her and we were restricted to my selection of cards, the games were relatively even in deck building, with the advantage going to me of experience. I don’t build powerful competitive decks; I tend towards weenie decks without the cards to even level the field (like Wrath of God or Armageddon). I love building empires of Thrall tokens or Saprolings. While she never quite adopted my fondness for creating armies of tokens, she also would delay the kill in favor of drawing more cards.

All of our Magic playing though came crashing to a halt one day when I revealed that I had thrown a few games. I don’t recall why I felt it neccesary to reveal that fact,. Most likely, my ego was wounded. The effect was immediate and chilling: no more MTG games for us. Most of her victories were legitimate. The relationship eventually ended, though I really don’t think my Magic blunder was the source. I didn’t turn her off of Magic: The Gathering entirely. She emailed me months later revealing that she’d bought her own cards and now kept a Serra Angel of some sort in her wallet.

Why did I throw the games? My overall aim in losing the few games I deliberately lost was to make Magic more enjoyable for her. She would be more likely to play if she won more often. This seemed to be verified by her increased interest in playing after she had won. In my experience, very few people have the mental stamina to constantly lose games and quickly want to move onto something they’re better at. There is a large philosophical debate as far as game demoing goes as to whether you let the person trying your game out win or not. Most demo teams side towards letting the newbie enjoy the thrill of winning because they’re more likely to get into the game that way. When I’m playing a demo game, I want the opposite: the full experience and intellect of my opponent against me. Yes, victory is nice, but I need to see how challenging the game will be.

History Repeats Itself: Heroclix

Fast forward a year or two and I was playing Heroclix with my eventual wife. We played fairly often, even bringing some pieces and a map on a trip with us. After one loss to her when she began to gloat, I let it slip that I had let her win. It was the truth. I had wanted her to remain interested in the game. She would only beat me 2 out of 10 times and was showing signs of disinterest. Overall, my decision to throw the game (and reveal this to her) was a horrible strategy. She and I have not played Heroclix since.

Old habits die hard. Whether with a love interest or just a friend, you may want to think twice before deliberately losing in order to win him or her over. Or just keep your mouth shut.