HeroClix Map Review Heroclix Map Review: Axis Chemicals [Archive] - HeroClix Realms

PDA

View Full Version : HeroClix Map Review Heroclix Map Review: Axis Chemicals


saturnflight
01/26/2011, 21:57
http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=1412&pictureid=14383


The impact a map can have on a game is often overlooked. A good strategy incorporates a tactically-sound map choice. But when it comes to locale, sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. We're here to help you make smart decisions when it comes to Heroclix real estate.

saturnflight
01/26/2011, 21:58
http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=1412&pictureid=14384
Map photo is courtesy of mr_moneypenny. Rep him here for giving us all a visual aid for today's article! (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showpost.php?p=5091546&postcount=48)

saturnflight
01/26/2011, 21:58
These days, a good portion of our maps are based on comic book locations. That wasn't always the case. Prior to the introduction of terrain coding on maps, the only dedicated effort toward representing a comic locale was in the DC and Marvel map sets. DC's map set included:
-The Batcave (so devoid of hindering that any Batman there felt ambushed)
-Metropolis (loaded with hindering for Superman to ignore)
-the JLA Satellite HQ (quite spacious for a space station)
-and S.T.A.R. Labs (what?)

http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/0/251/337357-67434-s-t-a-r-labs.jpg
If you can name any of these characters, you might belong at S.T.A.R. Labs.

Marvel's maps seemed to stick a little closer to the feel of the locations, but the choices were equally strange:
-Avengers Mansion (which, really, could have been anyone's mansion)
-Avengers Mansion: Front Door (what?)
-Danger Room (devoid of terrain, but that did make it dangerous to play there)
-and the X-Mansion's Backyard (this map rocks because it has a basketball court)

Why am I covering all of this? Because you need to know where comic-themed maps had been prior to DC: Icons, or you're going to look at Axis Chemicals and say, "What kind of phoned-in theme is that?" Unfortunately, this was just par for the course at the time.

saturnflight
01/26/2011, 21:58
Factories are a longstanding tradition in Heroclix maps, so Axis Chemicals wasn't offering anything new. Two pools of acid-green water terrain are really all that justify the comic-based title. And that's a shame; when I think 'the Origin of the Joker', I see a mess of catwalks over huge drums of chemicals, which is a map layout that would be welcome for its novel design. Instead, we have a map whose most significant element is the winding central office.

http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=1412&pictureid=14433
Solomon Grundy takes cover in the only place he can; Batman ponders how he can pull off a Running Shot.

Truly, the part of the map you'll find has the most impact on the game is that 4x5 line-of-fire-blocking labyrinth. This is where close combat figures should be prepping prior to the Charge, and the place ranged combat figures should avoid at all costs. If you hope to infiltrate this bunker with a ranged figure, they will need Running Shot, high speed, and possibly even the Sharpshooter ability, as cramped quarters will force you closer than you're comfortable with. Your best bet is to blow out the surrounding walls early if you're concerned about your opponent taking refuge there.

The acid vats may have done terrible things to the man who became the Joker, but for aquatic figures, there's apparently nothing harmful to be found there. If you and your opponent start the game in the dark gray 'parking lot' starting areas, these pools could prove useful to you. However, if you've set up the opposite way (with the long walls running parallel to your advance), the kiddie pools are too close to home to provide any positioning advantage. While Namor may appreciate a couple squares to double back to for Regeneration, most aquatic figures won't find a reason to love this map.

This map's walls are significantly less interesting if you start in the dark gray, as they simply block the starting areas off. If you start the other way (with the chemical vats within a square of your starting area), you can use the long-running walls to divide forces and cut off supporting-role opponents who need extensive line of sight to be most effective. On the backside of one wall is a mass of hindering that you can use as cover. Mostly, however, it will just provide constant hindering terrain for Magneto as he makes his way up the field. Note that in Axis Chemicals, all Hindering terrain is blocked on at least one side by a wall; there are very few ideal spots to drop your stealthed figure, especially if you're counting on their ability to see a lot of the battle.

http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=1412&pictureid=14434
Even with Out of the Shadows, Batman can't make an attack on Clayface.

This map's features have come with an awful lot of cautionary tales. So who's making the best of Axis Chemicals?

-Close Combatants with a little bit of mobility. There are a number of spots here where you can keep covered as you advance on an ranged opponent. That said, these guys will be trumped if your opponent uses...

-Long-Ranged Beasts with nothing to fear! Long, straight hallways mean that, if you can afford to stand before your opponent without fear, you can hit with your full range before they're in range for their own attacks. That means a figure like X-Plosion Mandarin, Kingdom Come Green Lantern, or the previously-mentioned Giant-Size Magneto. If you need cover, you'll find a lot of help from...

-Barrier. From 10 squares away and with limited options for circling, you can keep a long-range figure fairly safe with one Barrier placed close to yourself. You can also cut off one side of the pillbox, which can neuter an opponent's setup.

-Characters who see through walls (or break walls as free actions). The bunker in the center can be a great position for Susan Richards or Malekith, or dare I suggest it,Cosmic Spider-Man. Molecule Man can, on the other hand, dissolve that wall your opponent is hiding behind.

-A Gotham Enemies team looking to be thematic. You shouldn't have to reposition often, which is ideal for the mobility-impaired Arkham goon squad; and with so many open areas, you can make good use of those supporting powers. Batman will have few places to hide, and those spots are easily avoided. This isn't at all saying this map can make up for the team's deficiencies; merely that, if you're a thematic kinda guy, this map won't ruin you.

saturnflight
01/26/2011, 21:58
Would I make Axis Chemicals my latest hideout?

Theme: 2/5
Well, they tried. But two green chemical baths does not a comic-themed map make. Catwalks would have been golden, or at least more prominent use of chemical vats. As is, this feels like a map named after the fact. Even the office has no details in it; what exactly is that block in the middle if not a pillbox?
Clarity: 5/5
There's nothing unclear here, and the bright colors ensure that. They may have been too cautious in making sure the map was perfectly clear, but for a starter set reinventing map labels, I can't really blame them.
Tactical Impact: 1/5
This map has little impact on anything at all, and what terrain does exist seems more like a token gesture than a concerted effort by a team of game designers.
Balance: 5/5
If you play from one chemical vat to another, this map is a mirror image. All tactics have positions they can play from, but none of them are particularly supported. The balance is there in a complete lack of input from the map.
Terrain Diversity: 3/5
It has most of the terrain types represented, lacking only Blocking and Elevated. However, the terrain isn't very well distributed. The aquatic terrain that should be the key feature of this map (as it is the only themed element) is easily ignored due to its placement. Most battles will take place in wide open areas.

Overall: 3.2/5
This map was an early attempt at a comic theme, but it just wasn't that well executed. I see no reason to choose this map for a tournament, unless you want a 'leave no impact' map to teach a new player on. Just like the Zoo on the reverse side, this starter set map can safely be retired.

Darkjawa103
01/27/2011, 09:27
which starter set was this map from?

Dr. Z
01/27/2011, 09:29
Total agreement. I"ve played many a game on this map and I don't recall ever using the water terrain.

Just for funsies it might be a good idea to houserule the water as 'Special terrain' that acts like water terrain but also deals one penetrating to any character occupying it at the end of their turn. I mean if you wanna represent a toxic chemical vat and all. Would give you a reason to use TK and FB offensively to position the opponent and such.

Wombatboy
01/27/2011, 09:30
which starter set was this map from?

Icons.

Here in my area I still see Icons starter sets sitting on the shelves so this is an official map that is still available without going on e-bay.

We still drag this one out from time to time for big 4 player games. As a 3' x 3' map it plays well for multiplayer, because it's so roomy. The last time my group played it one player hunkered down in the office, but with multiple foes circling around it gave him only a moment's respite and in the end made him a bigger target.

Good review!

saturnflight
01/27/2011, 09:45
I think I mentioned DC: Icons in there at least once. If not, I'll edit that in; I usually want to have that included somewhere...

Maybe I need a map stats rundown in the opening:

Official Title: Axis Chemicals
Commonly Known As: n/a
Map on Reverse: The Zoo
Dimensions: 36" x 36" (24x24 squares)
Set: DC: Icons starter
Availability: Currently available retail due to a large overstock of DC: Icons starters at many game stores

Can you think of anything else that should be in there?

NeoShazam
01/27/2011, 09:48
I'm curious as to how the balance rating works. It looks like if both sides are equal it gets a high score ? I think it'd be neater if the map helps the person who chooses it but the player that gets to pick a side gets a better side.

Most memorable game on this map was a slugfest in that office where like every single spot had a character based with another and they had to punch their way out, one of the few close combat ones I lost.

iceman243
01/27/2011, 09:58
I think I played on this map only once. I need to find it!

saturnflight
01/27/2011, 10:15
I'm curious as to how the balance rating works. It looks like if both sides are equal it gets a high score ? I think it'd be neater if the map helps the person who chooses it but the player that gets to pick a side gets a better side.

Most memorable game on this map was a slugfest in that office where like every single spot had a character based with another and they had to punch their way out, one of the few close combat ones I lost.

Balance is a category that's well aware that game balance can be achieved in a multitude of ways.

The largest portion comes down to in-game balance. Is there a side that has an advantage over the other solely due to their starting side? Look at the old 'one big rooftop' map for an example of a map that doesn't have that balance. If a map gives one team the upper hand without even considering what figures comprise each team, it's not going to get a good Balance score.

Another consideration is what strategies are enhanced or hindered. A well balanced map might enhance close combat teams (who need that extra help) while cutting into the dominance of range (ex. Space map). Note that if a map goes too far (such as the Prison), it's going to lose some balance points. Loss of a good rating will also happen if the supported strategy is already considered powerful (don't expect a good balance rating from the Arena due to the aid it gives long range).

There are a few other wildcards, but these two are the primary determinants I look at.

kunz
01/27/2011, 10:53
I think I mentioned DC: Icons in there at least once. If not, I'll edit that in; I usually want to have that included somewhere...

Maybe I need a map stats rundown in the opening:

Official Title: Axis Chemicals
Commonly Known As: n/a
Map on Reverse: The Zoo
Dimensions: 36" x 36" (24x24 squares)
Set: DC: Icons starter
Availability: Currently available retail due to a large overstock of DC: Icons starters at many game stores

Can you think of anything else that should be in there?

suggested price maybe ?

Elda King
01/27/2011, 11:50
Terrain diversity 3 for a map that lacks blocking, elevated, outdoor and special terrain? Seems a bit too much.

Other than that, great review as always!

goldpony
01/27/2011, 12:07
TKers love this map, especially those that can do it twice. make sure the objects are placed in the right locations :) I played Flash/GL on this map and he owned w/ the TK

gatharion
01/27/2011, 12:13
-A Gotham Enemies team looking to be thematic. You shouldn't have to reposition often, which is ideal for the mobility-impaired Arkham goon squad; and with so many open areas, you can make good use of those supporting powers. Batman will have few places to hide, and those spots are easily avoided. This isn't at all saying this map can make up for the team's deficiencies; merely that, if you're a thematic kinda guy, this map won't ruin you.

I always try to play thematic teams and I like to pick thematic maps as well.
I recall a game on that map where I made an opponent really fear the Batman Enemies. Icons Joker was getting opponents backed up against a wall while poisoning and outwitting them while being backed up by his Mastermind Fodder (AKA Scarecrow and Man-Bat) while Mr Freeze stayed down the hallway to take potshots at the opposition.

saturnflight
01/27/2011, 12:52
Terrain diversity 3 for a map that lacks blocking, elevated, outdoor and special terrain? Seems a bit too much.

Other than that, great review as always!

Is 3 high in your mind? I can't fault a map that includes water terrain, and the creative use of walls is worth something.

Is 3 low in your mind? The terrain it does have feels poorly distributed.

FrankERottweiler
01/27/2011, 14:45
The one figure I've seen dominate this map is CD's NGN Superman. The ability to use the little bit of hindering terrain and walls is just amazingly abusive with his hypersonic. Throw him on a team with Dr. Mid-Nite, and he should rarely be off his opening click.

azbat
01/27/2011, 17:43
Wow, I've owned this map for years and never knew it. I bought the Icon starter when it came out, pulled the figures and never bothered with the map/rules pack. I assumed that Wizkids had pulled the same stunt they did with the Universe starter and reused the maps.

Wombatboy
01/28/2011, 01:30
I think I mentioned DC: Icons in there at least once. If not, I'll edit that in; I usually want to have that included somewhere...

Maybe I need a map stats rundown in the opening:

Official Title: Axis Chemicals
Commonly Known As: n/a
Map on Reverse: The Zoo
Dimensions: 36" x 36" (24x24 squares)
Set: DC: Icons starter
Availability: Currently available retail due to a large overstock of DC: Icons starters at many game stores

Can you think of anything else that should be in there?

# of starting areas would be good, although for 36" x 36" maps I think it's always 4, isn't it? Anyway that would tell you if it was good for just one on one matches or multiplayer slugfests.

And maybe a mention if the map is designed to be connected to a copy of itself or another existing map, such as the recent offerings from Grid Reality and Mighty Maps.

Batarang96
01/28/2011, 06:42
Is this map legal in Modern Age play?

Elda King
01/28/2011, 07:18
Is 3 high in your mind? I can't fault a map that includes water terrain, and the creative use of walls is worth something.

Is 3 low in your mind? The terrain it does have feels poorly distributed.

It's true that the walls are positioned in a more interesting way than most, but considering the proportion of types he has and types he don't, this leaves a small difference (just 2 points at most) between this and much more complete maps... while few others should have even less diversity of terrain.

saturnflight
01/28/2011, 11:30
It's true that the walls are positioned in a more interesting way than most, but considering the proportion of types he has and types he don't, this leaves a small difference (just 2 points at most) between this and much more complete maps... while few others should have even less diversity of terrain.

You make a good argument; I might have entertained a 2 on this one, but I'm not going to go back and change it. This map isn't great for terrain diversity.

saturnflight
01/28/2011, 11:31
Is this map legal in Modern Age play?

I believe so; I think that the rule was "any map without terrain marking is banned", and this map has those markings.

MuskieLodge
01/28/2011, 11:44
One of the locals here (Amherst, Massachusetts) built up a 3D version of this map. It really brings out the details of certain line-of-sight issues that crop up from time to time. Having the chemical vats "sunk" by a layer of foam is a nice touch, too. It's likely my favorite 3D map of his to date--until the JSA Museum gets finished!

I had a few thoughts reading Saturn's excellent review, mostly along the lines of: why not re-create and update this map? Lose the pillbox/non-office. Instead of two big pools, have four to six vats placed throughout, with Special Terrain rules (I dunno; each character in a vat takes a click of Poison damage while inside?). A few Elevated catwalks over the action--and vats, of course!

Anyone at Grid Reality reading this?


Is this map legal in Modern Age play?

To the best of my knowledge, ALL color-coded maps are legal in tournament play, even this Old Timer.

Muskie

DrmngCelestial
02/05/2011, 20:23
Is this map legal in Modern Age play?

The player's guide says: Official HeroClix maps without the modern color
designations are retired. Official HeroClix maps with the
modern color designations are never retired.

This is probably the latest map made that would qualify as retired/ and non-tournament legal. It's almost there as it has the terrain markings, but not the purple for start areas. It could need clarification as Norm's never been particularly forthcoming about the used of the blank/DIY map on the back of (Junkyard or was it the Prison?) for tourneys.

charlesdward
02/06/2011, 04:27
I've had this map - and loved it - for years. I still preach to new players to pick up an Icons starter because they're cheap with useable figures, and awesome maps.
Both sides have been favourites of mine for a long time.
Thanks to the walls and the pillbox in the middle, I've had a lot of fun with Larfleeze on this map.