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. Official Title: Bizarro World Map on Reverse: Smallville Dimensions: 24" x 36" (16x24 squares) Set: DC HeroClix- Battle for Smallville Fast Forces Status: Active
There are some maps that I can't wait to review, and then there are maps that I dread writing about. This is one of the latter.
Prior to its release, Bizarro World was the subject of many ideas threads. How would it look? How would it play? Would it have special rules, and what would they be? The game already had a Bizarro World battlefield condition; would that same text make its way onto the map?
Then WizKids released the Battle for Smallville Fast Forces, and we finally got to see how they'd do it.
The idea of multiple elevations was first introduced to us with an Asgardian mountaintop. It took the standard progression of 1-2-3-4-3-2-1, and while it took a little time to get used to 2 blocking a shot from 3 to 1, after a few battles most of us got it. If Jotunheim was Cartography 101, Bizarro World is 304 Advanced Cartography: Non-Standard Landscapes.
As the dark reflection of Superman, Bizarro has a lot of similar powers. However, where they differ is in their use of those powers. Bizarro tends to open up with Charge (though the Fast Forces version actually leads with Running Shot), while Superman often begins with Hypersonic Speed. Unfortunately for Bizarro, this map favors the speedster; Superman's combination of flight and Hypersonic is the winning formula for rooftop combat. Bizarro has a great chance of getting close to most opponents while using rooftops for cover, but when it comes to his archrival, the man Bizarro World is supposed to undermine, it's our backwards grey friend who can't catch up.
So if Bizarro World doesn't hinder Superman, who is it thwarting? Grounded characters will quickly tire of the ups and downs via ladders. Long range characters will curse the uneven terrain for screwing up lines of fire. But the biggest problems come to the biggest figures: 3x6 colossals.
Bizarro World is a testament to the influence of maps on the metagame. When I say that Map Choice is the number one reason to build a theme team, this is one of the first proofs of that claim. Some of today's biggest threats- Galactus, Ziran the Tester, and Dr. Manhattan- are reigned in by the existence of this map. Just the threat of it can keep these threats on the sidelines during team building.
So what is it about Bizarro World that makes it so effective? Elevated terrain is the only standard terrain that has no standard method for destruction. What few methods do exist are not on the figures you're likely to run with the big guys, who are often one-man teams. When was the last time you saw Dum Dum Dugan as a Herald of Galactus? On an indoor map, like the popular colossal-thwarting map Realm of Death, a colossal could eventually break enough walls to attack you. Here, if you can stay behind that line of rooftops, you're safe. This tactic was first tested with the Junkyard map; Bizarro World took that concept and put it in a robot suit (which Lex Luthor would like back when you're done with it).
Now before you all run out and buy colossal insurance in the form of this map, there's a major downside to this map. It. Is. Confusing! Every single line of fire will test your knowledge of elevation rules! That's time taken away from gameplay, and it can ruin the fun of a match.
I'm not going to walk you through the rules of elevation, but here's a quick quiz to check yourself. Can Supergirl draw line of fire to Bizarro? Please, do not use this map if you can't get these right!
Spoiler (Click in box to read)
Leaving Master Mold out of this, how do I feel about Bizarro World?
Bizarro World, to me, should make no sense. It should be odd and childish and full of strange obstacles. Instead, all we have is a jumble of uneven rootops. Sure, the color scheme is bizarre, but does that equal a backwards world? I don't think so. Clarity: 2/5
Well, you can clearly tell which level is which, thanks to the new elevation change arrows (<3I2>), but the constant changes and the effect they can have on gameplay is irritating and challenges even the best understandings of the rules. Tactical Impact: 3/5
This is another case of tactical suppression, and without justification. Why should Bizarro World be so hard for a Colossal to fight on? Why should a ground-based character struggle to move? Many players will have to adjust how they play when they show up here, but few alternative tactics are introduced. Balance: 1/5
This map just neuters colossals and shoots grounded characters in the foot, all the while giving more advantages to characters that ignore map features. Terrain Diversity: 2/5
We have elevation changes galore and a bit of hindering, but that's about it. Of all maps to deserve a special rule and not get one...
A map can be powerful, influential, and strategically wise while still being lousy. If two players both understand the terrain and want to play here, there's chaotic fun to be had. But in most settings, someone's going to get frustrated. Begrudgingly, I have to recommend that everyone own this while begging that nobody play it.
That's it for this week! Until next time, enjoy the scenery!
Why is A. illegal then? I would guess that it is because when you draw a line of fire through a corner you have to pick the "path of least resistance", correct?
The green number is the square occupied by Bizarro-Girl, the red by Bizarro.
When drawing a line of fire along a direct diagonal, wiggle the line to one side or the other and choose the path of least resistance. In this case, wiggling left will put you at blocked due to same elevation. Right will block because 2 blocks line of fire from 3 to 1. The line is blocked.
This is blocked because 3 blocks line of fire from 4 to 2.
This one is sneaky, because it seems wrong. If Bizarro was one square up, it'd be a clear line, like this: 2111124. However, because that 1 square of level 3 terrain is between 2 and 4, the shot is blocked.
This is the same as A, just shown differently. The path of least resistance, wiggled either right or left, is still blocked.
With only 1 level of elevation and a nice, simple line between them, the only thing that could block this shot is interrupting terrain. The interruption, however, is lower (2) terrain, not higher. Clear.
If you wiggled the line left, you'd be blocked by that 2. But with a right wiggle, you've got a shot from 1 to 4 with nothing between. Clear.
I thought collossal Jon Osterman Dr Manhattan is ok since terrain he is on becomes clear grounded...
That's probably true, I'm no expert on the individual rules that make one scenario colossal different from another. And I don't know if Dr. Manhattan and Jon Osterman are different in their rules either. I just listed a few big guys that scare people.