Like Player's Handbook Heroes (1), each set comes in a trio of minis organized by power source, and you can see everything that you are going to get (ie, not randomized). At $11 a pop, this means that you are paying about $3.66 per mini. This is a good deal for me since I expect to pay almost that much for unpainted metal, which I utterly despise since its prone to flaking and chipping. Add in the cost of supplies and time, and I'm more than happy to shell out a fraction of the price for a shit-ton of convenience.
I think taking the time to assemble and paint your own minis is actually a bad idea, unless you are doing it for display purposes only. Why? Well, having been "the guy" to almost exclusively paint his own minis, as well as Warhammer/Warhammer 40k armies for his friends, it cuts sooo much more deeply when one of your babies invariably breaks. If I could buy a pre-painted army for a pittance of what it took to do it myself, I think I'd be a much more dedicated wargame player nowadays.
And now, on to the actual product.
I'm generally willing to make a concession on the paint job so long as the its dynamic and versatile. I understand they have to crank out a lot of these fuckers, but I also understand that they have to look semi-decent (even if from a distance). If its got weapons, wings, or whatever hanging over the edge of the base its going to be a bitch to position in close quarters (the huge white dragon is guilty of this). Similarly, if its a dragonborn in plate armor using a trident, then its going to be very limited in what I can actually use it for.
For example, I really like the male human invoker. He's got a very cool pose, and is basically a robed dude wielding a staff. Obviously he's got what it takes for an invoker, but could also be used for a wizard or cleric. Hell, you could swing druid if you dont mind the color scheme.
On the other hand, I dont much care for the male shifter ranger. First, the pose is kind of weak. Second, he looks like he's just wearing a plain white shirt. Bright, light clothing isnt something I expect rangers to run around in. I would be more inclined to use it as a two-weapon monk, rogue, or perhaps even a swordmage. Something that actually uses cloth-or-no armor.
Martial Characters 3
- Male dragonborn warlord isnt anything new if you were into Angelfire. Still, it works and would also do for a fighter or paladin. Dragon's tenacity is a encounter utility that grants you and bloodied allies an attack bonus, and if you're a dragonborn the bonus is increased.
- Female elf fighter is falls flat on the color department. The pose is also very weak, like she's all bunched up from being too cold or something. Pretty meh. Would also double as a paladin or a sword-using cleric, I suppose. Close the gap is a level 2 utility that lets you move your Dex mod after dropping an enemy in addition to marking something that you end adjacent to.
- Male gnome rogue is also kinda flat, but looks a bit better than female elf fighter. He's a but more action-oriented, which helps. I plan on using him as a barbarian of all things, but I could see him performing decently as a bard, ranger, or even fighter. Clever strike grants you combat advantage against the target at any time another ally is next to it and is able to attack. Another name for this at-will could also be called sneak attack-attack.
- I like the male tiefling fighter, but we really need a tiefling warlord that is using a polearm instead of...whatever the hell it is using kplzthx. Phalanx leader is a level 10 encounter utility that grants adjacent allies a bonus to AC, Reflex, and attacks for a turn, but you must be using a shield.
- The male shifter ranger is one that I really dont care for, which I explained above. Shield of blades is an at-will attack that deals weapon damage and grants you an AC bonus for a turn.
- Female human warlord is a basic sword & board archetype, and would work well as a fighter, paladin, or cleric using an edged weapon. Pretty versatile. Inevitable wave grants allies a damage bonus for a turn against a critter you hit. You can use it when charging.
- Male human paladin looks a bit comically grim-dark, and ironically will probably work better as a NPC villian. Would also work great as a fighter or warlord. I got the paladin cards mixed up, but I think this one had flare of divine vengeance, which is a daily utility that lets you burn a healing surge and gives you an attack bonus against a challenged enemy that hits you.
- Warforged cleric is very meh. Too flat. Should have done a bit more. Will likely be used in my Eberron games as a warforged NPC or commoner, most of the time. I could also see him as an artificer or (very) mebbe a monk? Invigorating assault deals weapon damage and grants an adjacent ally your Wis mod in thp.
- Female human avenger is a kalashtar bodyguard reskin. I dont like her for numerous reasons: the pose is bad (its like an after-action shot), her armor isnt something I see an avenger wearing (way too tight), and the colors clash. My least favorite out of the set, just narrowly losing to warforged cleric. Focused fury deals weapon damage, and if you hit your oath of enmity target it also pushes another target away from you.
- Male human invoker is made of win (see above). Astral wind is a close blast 3 that pushes targets, and deals Con mod damage if they move closer to you on their turn.
- Male genasi paladin uses a too-short-sword, but otherwise works out alright. I would have rather seen a swordmage, but I'll take what I can get, damnit. Would also be very appropriate for a sword-and-board fighter. I cant remember which got which, but I think this is the one that had forbidding strike, which deals weapon damage and grants resist all to an adjacent ally. Very nifty, even if an AC booster is probably a better idea in general.
- Female human cleric is great despite being a reskin of the combat medic, but I preferred her in red. Healing circle restores hit points to all allies in the AoE, and gives them a lot of bonus hit points whenever they burn healing surges within the zone.
- Warforged artificer is okay, but I'm not exactly a fan of the pose (I prefer the warforged wizard from "back in the day"). Unbalancing force is pretty basic, dealing force damage and pushing a target if an ally hits it before the end of your next turn. Nice setup I suppose, and fits with the leader role.
- Female human wizard is good for a wizard, obviously. She wields a staff and wears a mask that makes her look like Destro's daughter, but I think its because she was a witch-something from Forgotten Realms, originally. I dont know/care. Its one of the better ones, at any rate: good pose and at least a passing attempt at drybrushing for shadow effects. Refocus is a utility that lets you swap out a utility or daily for another one of the same level or lower, and gives you an attack bonus to boot.
- Male human swordmage is very well done. The color scheme is good, there are shadows and highlight effects, and even the eyes were done perfectly. Combined with the invoker and female wizard, these guys set the bar on what I would like to see as the "bare minimum" for future sets. He would also do for a fighter or warlord, especially with wizard multiclassing. Frostwind blade is a cold-based at-will attack that deals Con mod cold damage to another marked enemy, making it somewhat like a ranged cleave.
- The male halfling barbarian is mostly naked, which isnt something most barbarians can get away with. Kinda meh, but would work alright in Eberron. Clawfoot berserker rage deals triple damage and grants you an attack bonus plus an immediate reaction basic attack whenever an ally becomes bloodied.
- The male human druid is pretty darned good, and would also work very well as a staff-using wizard, nature-oriented cleric, and possibly even an invoker. Leaf wall is a daily utility which creates a wall (surprise) that grants concealment to allies and causes enemies to grant combat advantage.
- Finally, the female human barbarian is okay. I just wish she wasnt so...blue. If it was darker or a different coler (like, red), I think it would have been a looot better. Still, she would work out for my shifter barbarian. Frenzied berserker rage deals triple damage and lets you damage yourself as a minor action to deal automatic damage to an adjacent enemy.