This week, I’d like to offer a few tips for evaluating minis characters. No rocket science here, but hopefully this article will help get your thinking cap on tightly for processing the new set. I’m sure there will be a lot of you reading through the spoiler list for Spoils of War over and over, trying to figure out which miniatures are worthy of making it into your next party.
There are quite a few different characters that are worthy of tournament play, and figuring out which ones are good on a given map can be quite the challenge. I think this speaks to the fact that UDE did a good job providing us with a balanced Core Set, and I expect Spoils of War will be the same. Speaking of the Core Set, I think it actually plays a crucial role in evaluating Spoils of War.
TIP: See which older pieces improved. Remember that World of Warcraft Minis is a game built in large part around synergy. There are a few minis from Core Set that could never find the right teammates to be quite good enough for tournament play, but those missing teammates might just be found in Spoils of War. On the flip side, a piece from Spoils of War that doesn’t seem so great on first glance might just be asking for you to remember a forgotten piece from the first set; if you see a new piece that’s powerful but vulnerable, don’t forget about pieces like Wilton Thorne and Roria.
Additionally, remember that older pieces might become better because of the new Action Bar cards, especially since it seems that UDE has printed some particularly powerful Action Bar cards in Spoils of War. One of the biggest mistakes I made when first evaluating the minis in the beginning was not paying enough attention to the cards that were available to each class.
TIP: Don’t underestimate the importance of Action Bar cards. As you’re going through and reading over each character, keep a list nearby of the Action Bar cards from both Core Set and Spoils of War. Some minis are so reliant on certain cards that they literally might be unplayable without them. If a certain mini seems to have a hole somewhere, check and see if there’s a card that fixes the problem; Thangal probably wouldn’t have a good enough attack to be playable if it weren’t for his ability to toss out a Starfire every round.
Of course, it requires careful thought to determine what constitutes a “hole” or what constitutes a serious strength in a miniature. Although the new set will be bringing us a host of new powers to try and wrap our heads around, we can surely apply some of the lessons we learned from Core Set to help us sort out the new minis.
TIP: Carefully evaluate the parts to evaluate the whole. It’s obvious that a lot of health is good, and that high armor and resist values are good, and that low honor costs are good. But, for example, if you asked a lot of players when the first core set came out how good range 4 was, most of them probably wouldn’t have known. A little bit of playtesting and the results from DMF San Fran show us that range 4 (on the right map) is a big, big deal. It allows you to move, then shoot, and still be outside of move plus melee attack range. Since most minis conditionally crit between 40% and 50% of the time, a good crit is also a very big deal. Other potentially powerful qualities to watch for: increased movement capabilities, abilities that add or subtract ticks, increased odds for critting (a stealthed Timmo will crit 67% of the time), crits that make secondary attacks of 4 or more, and minis that roll 6 or more attack dice (these minis are much less likely to be completely “shut out” by a party packing defense values of 3 or 4).
Of course it’s never 100% possible to simply “deduce” how good a mini is, even if we have a good grasp of the individual parts, which is why we playtest. But there is one other thing that will make piece evaluation without playtesting slightly easier for Spoils of War than it was for Core Set:
TIP: Compare new minis/cards to similar pieces that have proven their worth. Evaluating a somewhat finicky card like Curse of Agony might have been difficult for me if I hadn’t already played a lot with Corruption. Since I know how good it is to deal 2 damage every 5 ticks, I can directly compare the Curse to Corruption and see how I feel about the difference. After three scoring rounds, Curse is tied for total damage with Corruption (at 6), since most characters won’t live beyond 8 damage anyway. I conclude that, especially with the perk of readying the card, Corruption is better (and given that Curse of Agony costs 1 tick to Corruption’s 2, this isn’t entirely unexpected). This sort of comparative reasoning can save a lot of time. Unlike some players, I never tested triple Blindlight Murloc because I felt that triple Ruby Gemsparkle was superior, and despite slightly different stat lines and honor costs, the two parties function very similarly. If you notice that a new figure has a lot of similarities to one from Core Set, see which figure seems the better deal overall. Looking for a good 4 honor mini? See if it stacks up to the unbelievably sturdy Mojo Ojo. Looking for a medium cost heavy hitter? See how it compares to the tried and true Boulderfist Warrior. Just don’t forget what I mentioned earlier in the article—Action Bar cards are important too.
Well, that’s about all the advice I have for you for now. Hopefully this article put you in a good mindset to start reading through those spoiler lists.
Have fun playing with the new figures!