What If… may have been a somewhat bum set overall, but we did the new Goblin King, whom has been making quite the waves online. With his Pick-A-Power feature and high point cost, folks starting making the comparisons to the king of Meta, Jakeem Thunder. Today I want to be your one-stop comparison shop to help you choose who to play.
Seeing as you probably listen to the show or at the least look at tournament results, you know about Jakeem Thunder and all the nonsense this guy has caused. For months, this Super Rare Prime has been the king of competitive, winning just about every event he goes to. Just in case you aren’t familiar with him, take a look at his dial.
While we were about 80% of the way through What If…, WizKids showed off one of the last few Super Rares in Goblin King, based on a What If storyline where the Green Goblin stole the Infinity Gauntlet. Immediately, the forums on the Realms were ablaze as people started talking about how this one figure was going to reshape the meta environment and he went into the running as the best figure ever made. To make things easy, and in case you haven’t seen him either, I’ve included his dial as well.
You can see why these two are grouped together; they’re very similar in design and have the almighty pick-a-power mechanic to make them true terrors. Over the years, pick-a-power has proven to be the dominant mechanic as it boils down to versatility, which all clix teams strive to have. The more options your team has, the smaller the chance you’ll get stuck in a match-up. While no team will be able to counter anything thrown it’s way (it’s one of the beauties of collectible customizeable games), pick-a-power makes sure that your team can adapt on the fly and have the best chance against what’s across the table from you.
With these two titans in Modern and neither rotating for at least another 2 years, let’s break them down and find out which one is the right pick for you. Notice I didn’t say which one is better; Heroclix is a game based on comic books, and comic readers are among the most loyal fans out there. Die-hard Marvel fans like myself will most likely champion Goblin King and say he is insanely better, while the DC crowd might make the claim that Jakeem still cleans his clock. For this reason, today’s article will be about helping you decide which works better for your team.
The Mechanic – Pick-A-Power
Let’s start off with the reason why these two are powerful, which I’ve mentioned at lengths already. Both their pick-a-powers are very similar, so let’s analyze both of them.
Jakeem: (You Know What I’m Thinking, Johnny?): At the beginning of your turn, choose 2 standard powers, but only one of those powers may be a defense power, Hypersonic Speed, Outwit, Perplex, or Pulse Wave. Jakeem Thunder can use the chosen powers until your next turn.
Goblin King: (Infinity Gauntlet): Give Goblin King a free action and choose two standard powers. Goblin King can use the chosen powers until he chooses again.
Both of these guys get to pick two powers to use which sets them on early equal ground as to what they can do and how they can adapt. However, if we look at their powers again, there’s quite a large difference here.
Timing – Jakeem has to pick his powers at the beginning of the turn whereas Gobby gets to pick his powers at anytime during the turn with a Free Action. That’s a big difference. Because Jakeem has to make his choices early, you have to pre-determine how the turn is going to play out, and hope you don’t get into a bad situation with either bad dice rolls, an unexpected power showing up on an opponent’s dial, or something else affecting the game. Gobby can react to how things play out, and doesn’t have to commit to something that might have been a poor choice when you were formulating your turn. Maybe a long-shot ranged attack hit with a secondary attacker and now Charge will help more than the Running Shot you were going to go with. Maybe you put your opponent on a STOP click and need Precision Strike to get through their defenses. Gobby is a more reactionary piece that can evolve based on what happens whereas Jakeem has to lock in his choices early and make the best of it.
On the flip side of this coin, Gobby’s requires a Free Action whereas Jakeem’s just happens. How does that make any difference? Well, there are pieces in the game in both Golden Age and Modern that limit Free Action use, meaning if Gobby gets locked in this regard, he won’t be able to use things like Running Shot, Charge, Hypersonic Speed, either Combat Expert power, and so on, while Jakeem will be free to do as he wishes because his pick-a-power isn’t an action of any kind. Also, when the new rules hit, Jakeem will be able to trigger Leadership and beginning of the turn powers while Gobby will be locked out of that option.
Edge: Goblin King. While the Free Action limitation is a small issue, the ability to adapt on-the-fly gives him a much larger edge.
Restrictions – Unlike Timing, this factor is completely nonexistent in one of the two pieces. Jakeem’s trait limits him in terms of what powers he can pick in that he can only pick one power from among Defense, Hypersonic Speed, Outwit, Perplex, or Pulse Wave, which does limit what he can do quite a bit. Goblin King on the other hand, is completely free from the shackles of restrictions, and can pick whatever he wants, whenever he wants, meaning he can stack tons of defense when he’s resting, go totally ham on the offensive, or even pick up multiple support powers.
Edge: Goblin King. Player’s haven’t really had an issue with Jakeem in this regard, but it’s remarkably apparent now that Goblin King has come in and shown he can do whatever he wants.
Duration – Both of our characters have their bases covered as whatever they pick will at least last until your next turn, meaning you don’t have to worry about only getting something on your turn and you’re fresh meat on your opponents turn. However, there’s a difference here, too. Jakeem has your typical pick-a-power duration in that it lasts until your next turn, which is what we’re all used to, so there’s certainly not a downside here. On the other side of the fence, Gobby gets to pick his powers and keep them until he picks again. This means that if you pick Hypersonic and Steal Energy on your 4th turn, you can use those powers as you normally would, use them again on turn 5, and then after you’re done attacking, armor up and pick defensive powers that will really destroy any chance your opponent had at getting to you.
Edge: Goblin King. While this is a narrow victory for him, it’s still huge in that it gives his pick-a-power more utility than we’ve ever seen before.
While having pick-a-power certainly automatically qualifies a piece as meta material, the dial still has to be strong. These two fluctuate quite a bit in this regard. Some of these sections will be shorter than those above because there ins’t as much to discuss.
The Point Cost – Jakeem has just one value at 140 points whereas Goblin King has three with 275, 175, and 75. We know that in a 300 point modern competitive game, you’re not going to play Goblin King at 275, and right now we’re focusing on just the value-to-point cost as a primary attacker, meaning Gobby’s 175 point line. Jakeem has 8 clicks whereas Gobby has only 7 clicks.
Edge: Jakeem Thunder. While Goblin King has more options with his dial (which we’ll get to), at the ‘half your build primary attacker’ slot, Jakeem wins out with more health for less points.
Point Cost Versatility – To stem off the last topic, Goblin King has three point values whereas Jakeem only has one. This makes Goblin King a much bigger team player and lets him adapt to what you need him to be. Need a primary attacker? He can do that. Need a brick for a huge game at your LGS? He can do that. Need a super Support piece/tertiary attacker? Yep, he can do that too.
Edge: Goblin King. This is as simple as it gets. Three point costs trumps a single point cost.
Combat Symbols – Both our guys are tied as they both have Flight, with standard attack, defense, and damage symbols.
Powers – Ah, now we get into the real meat and potatoes. Again, we’re going to base this off of Goblin King’s 175 point line as that’s what we’re really interested in.
Without factoring in the pick-a-power on either piece, Jakeem has Sidestep on two clicks, Phasing on four, and Stealth on his last two for movement, no powers on attack, Energy Shield/Deflection for two clicks, Toughness for four clicks, and Regeneration on his last two clicks for defense, and Probability Control on his first five clicks for damage.
Goblin King has Phasing on his first click, Sidestep for two clicks, and back to Phasing for two more clicks on movement, no powers on attack, Impervious for two clicks, Invulnerable for three clicks, and Toughness for two clicks on defense, and Probability Control for three clicks, and Perplex on his last two clicks for damage.
Edge: Goblin King, but barely. It really boils down to the fact that Goblin King has reducers on his entire dial while still having access to Probability Control (although he doesn’t have it as long as Jakeem does). Jakeem’s Sidestep keeps him really close, but the lack of any reducers really hurts him.
Numbers – Jakeem has some very solid numbers to help his single point cost. His movement is high with three 10’s, three 9’s, and two 8’s. His attack is strong with a single 11 up front, five 10’s, and two 9’s. Defense is also strong with two 18’s to start, four 17’s, and it jumps back up to 18 for his last two clicks. His damage is pretty safe and strong with three 4’s, three 3’s, and two 2’s (that’s a little confusing to read!).
Goblin King suffers a bit here. His movement is still strong with 9 for two clicks, and 8 for his last five clicks. Attack starts like Jakeem with an 11 up front, three clicks of 10, and three clicks of 9. His defense is a bit more hefty to help out with four clicks of 18, and three clicks of 17. Damage stays strong with the King; 4 damage for his first four clicks, and 3 on his last three clicks.
Regarding range, Jakeem has 8 with two targets while Goblin King has 7 with a single target.
Edge: Jakeem Thunder. The higher attack values and his defense shooting back up to an 18 when he’s on his last legs (coupled with Regen) makes his dial stronger at 35 points less than Goblin King.
Team Ability – Both of our guys have a single Team Ability, and they’re completely different. Jakeem has JSA, which makes him a fantastic team player, and borderline builds a team for you with all the great low-point candidates from The Joker’s Wild. Being able to share that 18 defense without having to pick Defend is a big deal and makes him a team player.
While having a team ability that helps the rest of your guys out is a big deal, Goblin King has the insane Power Cosmic team ability, giving him Willpower and protection from Outwit. I know what you’re saying; their pick-a-powers can’t be outwitted, so what does that matter? With the new rules coming in August, Outwit will be able to counter any power, regardless of where it comes from, so Jakeem is going to take a big hit. Goblin King has protection built in with Power Cosmic, making him much harder to deal with. Plus, this gives Goblin King willpower whereas Jakeem has to use up his precision limited power selection if he wants to attack two turns in a row.
Edge: Goblin King, by a long shot. This is perhaps the single greatest reason why Goblin King is viewed as a stronger piece.
The Other Stuff
Keywords – Both of our candidates have a lack of keywords with Jakeem only having two and Gobby only having three. Jakeem has Justice Society and Mystical, which is huge as Mystical is perhaps the best generic keyword in the game, and gives him another vein to run into if he wants to go theme to win map roll. Gobby on the other hand has Dark Avengers, Monster, and Ruler, which the later two are the only help and not much at that. It’s a lot harder to build a strong theme team with the Goblin meaning he’s more often than not going to lose map choice.
Edge: Jakeem Thunder. No Contest.
Team Restrictions – This is pretty straightforward. Jakeem is a Prime, Goblin ins’t. While they’re both over 100 points therefore limiting what you can really add to the rest of your team, the fact that Jakeem completely eliminates choices like Nighthawk Prime, Peggy Carter, and even the Prime Shifting Focus Deadpool greatly limits what you can do. The only limitation on Goblin King is how many points you want to play him at.
Edge: Goblin King. No Contest.
Building Versatility – Jakeem has great keywords whereas Gobby has a 75 point line. With Jakeem, you can build a wondeful Mystical or Justice Society team and have really tight synergy with figures like JSA Green Lantern, Klarion the Witch-Boy, Faust, and so on. With Goblin King, you can designate him as a super support/tertiary attacker with great values and reducers that can be a surprise threat if left unchecked. Jakeem will always cost you 140 points and take half your build, but the 75 point line on Goblin King is just 4 short clicks.
Edge: Jakeem Thunder… barely. The ability to build a theme team around him with one of the best keywords gives him the edge over Goblin King’s multiple point lines.
So how did our boys do? Let’s see how many wins each got.
Jakeem Thunder: Won the match-up 4 times.
Goblin King: Won the match-up 7 times.
This isn’t really surprising. At the initial glance, Goblin King is a much stronger piece than Jakeem, but the wins Jakeem got were crucial in things like point cost for a primary attacker leaving you lots of room to build around, better overall values and dial-length, and the option of winning map roll with a theme team keep him in the running as a dominant force.
Like I said at the beginning of this article, there’s no real clear-cut winner in terms of who is overall better because it depends on what you want them to accomplish. If you want a strong theme team and the ability to run more than a single strong attacker, Jakeem is probably better for you. If you’re looking for a more brutal piece overall that will be harder to deal with, Goblin King is your guy. The point is that both are strong and just because Goblin King is around doesn’t mean Jakeem is now trash.
One thing I touched on very lightly in the match-up is the future of these pieces. The rule changes that are coming are going to make Outwit a very big counter to Jakeem, further reducing what his options are while Goblin King has immunity thanks to his team ability. This will probably see a very large drop in how many Jakeem’s we see compared to how many Goblin Kings we see. Outwit is also becoming more prevalent on pieces like the 30 point common Black Panther, the new Peace Machine, and many others that are easy to fit onto teams. While Jakeem is still very strong right now, you can count on it affecting his performance once these changes hit.
How did you like this article? Did you find it informative? Did it help you examine your pieces on a closer scale, or even help you decide which of these two monsters to run? I’d love to hear your thoughts! We’ll be able to see how they stack up for the first time this weekend as Origins is in full-swing, and soon we’ll have ourselves a new (or re-crowned) World Champion. It will be fun to see what people pair with both of these pieces.
I want to give a shout-out to our main man, Aaron, as he’s competing this year for the title. I wish him well and all the luck (and the same to all the player’s that have been on the show or are fans of the show). See you all next week and remember, the real fun begins when you’re Two Clicks From KO!