Chapter 2.2: The HelmAVerse/Sherman Davies Group
Matt Helm's HelmAVerse
Sherman Davies' DC
Sherman Davies' Marvel
Blog Post: Building a SUPER Custom
Matt Helm and Sherman Davies are actually two separate designers who have each designed a lot of Superhero customs independently of each other. They share such a similar design philosophy that their customs complement each other perfectly, though there is overlap with the most iconic heroes. I highly encourage everyone to read Matt's superb blog post linked above, as it really gives you an insight into his (and Sherman Davies') design philosophy.
Since I'm a relative newcomer to the customs world, I don't know Matt Helm's background with the group. But I do know from following various discussions that he has the highest level of respect from the customs community, which is how his customs hit my radar. Having communicated with him, I find him a humble and kind person.
I have also interacted with Sherman Davies as well. None other than Grungebob has stated publicly that he would gladly play Sherman's customs any time. How's that
for an endorsement? I think the thing that impresses me most about him is his phenomenal attention to detail. He has assisted many other customs designers, new and old, with his advice.
Things I admire most about their customs:
(1) Matt Helm and Sherman Davies limit the point cost of their units within the same range that the original Marvel presented. In fact, if you value playing Superheroes alongside Classic, these
are the customs you want to play. I think most, if not all, of them would actually play very well with Classic Scape.
(2) They have selected the least expensive figures in the Heroclix line. I was able to affordably collect their entire collection myself, which is something I wish I could've said about the Star Wars minis I've purchased. But that's another story.
(3) There are two types of Classic Scape units: those you can read and quickly understand to start playing; and those you have to read, re-read, consult the Books, consult the FAQ, study, examine with other units, and carefully consider when drafting.
Now, I honestly enjoy playing the complex stuff. But I'm getting older, and I have more difficulty absorbing things the way I was able when I was younger. I used to play Avalon Hill wargames. Now, I'm perfectly content with Solitaire on my computer.
With these customs, I only need to reference the cards occasionally. I enjoy that immensely. I don't want to call these customs simple, though. I think better terms to describe these designs are streamlined
. There are still plenty of choices you have to make during game play.
(4) There are synergies in some of these units, but they aren't so overt that you must
play them in specific armies. For example, Sherman Davies has a custom for Valkyrie, which offers an enhancement to a figure with Warrior Spirit Special Power. I played her in an army without such a unit, and didn't feel the army suffered as a result. So this collection encourages mixing and matching better than any group of customs I've seen.
Let's actually take a look at their contents. If you will click the link at the top for Matt Helm's customs, we'll begin with his.
Don't worry about expanding the spoilers, because the figures are actually listed below the spoilers. Scroll down. The first grouping are his Superhero customs, but you can see he has customs for other themes (or "HelmAVerses"). Just click and save the linked items to your hard drive.
Now examine Sherman Davies' links (either DC or Marvel is fine for now, as they have a similar layout). Here, you will find TONS of customs. Again, click and save the linked items to your hard drive.
I'll present some of my favorites, but let me begin with the figure I think best represents the streamlined design philosophy:
Blackfire (Sherman Davies)
Stats: 5 life, 5/6/4/4 move/range/attack/defense, 140 points. Two special abilities. Twin Starbolts: This is similar to a Double Attack, but requires her to not be in engagement. Super Strength: the standard Marvel special ability.
Once again -- I love
playing the complex figures. But I also like a solid, dependable unit. That is Blackfire.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Matt Helm)
Ever wished the Airborne Elite could be a common squad? Well, these Agents are close with their Helicarrier Drop. You can only hold one squad off the map at the beginning (and even that
is optional), so you already begin the game with a choice. They are also equipped with abilities to attack both Unique Heroes and adjacent squad figures. Triangulation, their Unique Hero ability, incrementally adds dice for each additional attack on the same unit. Nasty.
This unit has gone through the NM24 process, which I will discuss later.
Flash (Matt Helm)
Much like Hawkgirl, Flash is a figure that seems to bring out the best in customs designers. Move = 12. Nuff said.
Rhino (Sherman Davies)
Figures with abilities that depend on straight line movement or attacking offer a ton of tactical planning to properly execute. Rhino adds 3 to his move if he uses his entire move in a straight line. His charging attack gives him +2 attack dice if he can move at least 3 spaces and entirely in a straight line. With a life of 7, I would risk an engagement strike to break engagement from one figure if a Charging Attack opportunity presented itself. Brilliant
and elegant design.
Awesome Android (Sherman Davies)
When you look at his stats, 180 points seems to be severely undercosted for a figure with 6 life, 6 attack, and 6 defense. However, there's the matter of Limited Intelligence. If Awesome Android is the last figure for his team, the player controlling him is immediately taken out of the game, and the Android remains on the map as a destructible object.