For earlier articles in this series please click here.


Reminder: These rules are not finalized yet and will not replace the current rules until sometime after the  2017 HeroClix World Championship at Origins Game Fair. Email with feedback on this topic. We will try and read everything on topic but can only respond via articles we write addressing shared concerns.

HeroClix players!

Welcome back! As a general note, when writing the rulebook, it became apparent that players could benefit from “sidebars” (similar to “TIPS!” and “Examples:” in the current rulebook) to clarify exactly when a rule applies and to sometimes provide an example. So, for all of these articles, when we quote from the new rulebook, we will usually include the sidebars, which are a little less polished than the main text. We also want to remind players that effects from individual cards can overrule specific rules in the rulebook (and that’s part of the fun!). If you see a rule in these articles, and a card explicitly says something different, the card wins as always.

So let’s talk about something near and dear to most HeroClix player’s hearts: keywords. We love keywords, you love keywords. Players in general wanted the themed team rules to be a bit easier to remember and to make “Themed Team Probability Control” easier to both calculate and use.

Here’s the formal rules:

Keywords are special descriptors that help categorize a character and may allow a character to synergize with other similarly keyworded characters. Keywords are located on a character’s card, under the character’s name. A keyword can either be generic or named. Generic keywords appear on the character card in italics. Any keyword that is not generic is a named keyword.

If a character gains or loses a keyword, it does so for the rest of the game, even if that effect is later lost.

Themed teams are forces of HeroClix characters that have experience working together or common fighting styles and have extra synergy. This familiarity is represented by characters sharing a keyword.
SIDEBAR: Characters in your Sideline are not part of your starting force and do not count for a Themed Team.

In order for a starting force to become a themed team, during step 1 of the beginning of the game phase, it must include at least 2 characters, and all characters on it that aren’t bystanders must have a shared keyword that you choose. Once a starting force becomes a themed team, it remains so for the rest of the game, regardless of KOs, replacement characters, gaining or losing keywords, etc.
SIDEBAR: An effect that says “During force construction, friendly characters gain the Mystical keyword.” If you choose that keyword, that force is a generic themed team because the effect was able to be used during force construction. If the effect instead says “At the beginning of the game, friendly characters gain the Mystical keyword.” then that keyword could not be chosen (unless all characters on your force already had it) to make a themed team because the effect was not able to be used during force construction. You could still use effects during the game that reference the Mystical or “a shared” keyword, even if the character with that effect is KO’d.

Initiative Bonus: Just after establishing themed teams, when rolling for first player, a player with a themed team increases their result by +1 for each character with the chosen keyword on their starting force.
SIDEBAR: This is the only benefit for a generic themed team.

Themed Team Probability Control (TTPC): If your starting force is a named themed team, it can use TTPC. TTPC allows any character on that force to use Probability Control, up to X times per game. X is equal to the number of characters on your force with the chosen keyword when it became a themed team, with a maximum of 5.

 In addition, a character using TTPC:

  • Must have the chosen keyword.
  • Must target a character other than itself.
  • Must have 0 or 1 action tokens, and immediately after resolutions is given an action token.

SIDEBAR: Note that a character that has already used Probability Control (“normally” or not) can’t also use it again in the same turn, because of its inherent once per turn restriction.

So, you simply get one use of TTPC for each character on your force with that keyword, with a maximum of 5 per game.

There were two additional goals with these changes.

  • Reward teams for having diverse builds with multiple characters. A very common HeroClix build is “1 high-point character plus 1 or 2 low-point support characters”. With the current rule (max 3 uses in 300 point games) that team may be rewarded the same as a 5 or 6 character team. Players told us they wanted “themed team” synergy to additionally reward more diverse builds. The amount of TTPC a “one-man army” gets won’t change, but there will be additional incentives for trying something a little broader.
  • Don’t allow high-point games to have unmanageable amounts of TTPC. With this goal in mind, for 1000+ point games, we don’t want players to have to remember if they used it 7 or 8 times already. Those games tend to be longer and players can easily to lose track. While we rarely run tournaments over 300 points, we know many of you do, so we wanted to make sure that TTPC could be tracked on a single d6. We are taking the opportunity to use the new rulebook to communicate a few tweaks for high-point games based off of feedback we’ve heard from players, judges and retailers.

We also cleaned up the rules for using TTPC, boiling it down to three essential points. The last sidebar hints at some changes to Probability Control that we put to good use here.

Keywords, since their introduction, have been a fundamental part of the game, but only come into play like they do above or in some special powers. Players love them, and we’ve tried to incorporate that feedback in a way that makes them feel like a core part of the game. We also don’t want to continually write the exact same kinds of special powers that are simple variations of a standard power, but include keywords. There are two standard powers in particular that very often were “specialized” to reference keywords: Leadership and Mastermind, and both are getting upgrades.


UNIQUE MODIFIER-Action Total +1. At the beginning of your turn, you may roll a d6. [5-6]: Remove an action token from an adjacent friendly character that’s less points or shares a keyword.


When this character would be hit by an opponent’s attack that deals damage, you may choose an adjacent friendly character that wouldn’t be hit by this attack and that is less points or shares a keyword. That friendly character becomes the hit target of the attack instead, even if it’s already a target (or would be an illegal target).

Players have told us that they love when keywords are paired with these 2 powers (which has been quite often), and now it’s inherent to them. In both cases, we have also cleaned up some other interactions.

For Leadership, we wanted to move the action total outside of the roll, as it makes Leadership specials often unclear. Players also expressed that it could get too swingy with multiple Leadership characters and large teams. If they all succeed, then you suddenly could be doubling your action total! And if not, your large team may have a hard time functioning. We have a new keyphrase “Action Total +X” that increases your action total, and we changed the rules of the existing keyphrase “UNIQUE MODIFIER” so that it works with this phrase as well as combat values. So, you can only add one action to your action total via Leadership, no matter if it’s a standard or special Leadership power, or how many characters have it. But now you can actually build a force focused around getting an extra action every turn from Leadership!

For Mastermind, well, the rules needed some serious tightening up. This was definitely an area that causes a lot of confusion and could use better language and timing. It used the concept of “transferring damage”, which we didn’t use anywhere else. Also, the original target would still be the “hit character” for all effects (and there’s now quite a few effects like that), and “additional effects of the damage transfer” was not a technically precise phrase, among other issues. Players, via many rules questions, have definitely brought these issues to our attention. We talked about it a lot, reviewed it with players, and determined that what Mastermind really wanted to be was something closer to “late” Shape Change, where the entire attack changes targets. Mastermind also got really complicated in situations with multiple targets, so we cleaned it up so you have to choose a character that would not also be hit. And it now only triggers once per attack, because the new target simply “becomes the hit target” – you can’t trade targeting back and forth between “Masterminders”, and the new target can’t use Shape Change or Super Senses.

One other change is that Mastermind will now be tied to attacks, and not just “any damage”. For one thing, Mastermind often didn’t make a ton of flavor sense outside of attacks. (‘Uh, you there, stand in front of me in this poison gas cloud’). That’s not enough reason by itself, but it doesn’t help. Secondly, its text would have to be much longer to accommodate that, as then we’d need a technically precise way to say “other effects of the damage transfer.” Thirdly, the vast majority of its use was in attacks, and that’s what the power should focus on, rather than adding more text for a “corner” case. Finally, one reason why we sometimes include less Mastermind in the game than we could is that it can be a power that makes it nearly impossible to damage and KO characters, particularly if bystander generation or “can’t take more than 1 damage” effects and healing get involved. Not making it trigger on damage outside of attacks gives players another possible “out” to dealing with a Mastermind character.

Ok, that’s all for now. Keep on Clixin’!