HeroClix 2017 Rules 8: Hypersonic Speed and Pulse Wave

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 gamefeedback@wizkids.com with feedback on this topic. We will try and read everything on topic but can only respond via articles we write addressing shared concerns.

Hey HeroClix fans,

Up front, we want to say that we recognize that both of these powers are some of the most important powers in any HeroClix metagame. Along with the important and fundamental changes that needed to be made, most players wanted to leave these powers essentially unchanged, so as to not flip the HeroClix metagame entirely on its head. Plenty of new strategies will be available, but most older strategies should stay familiar.

So our core intention was to “keep them as close to current rules as reasonably possible”. We did that, and while Pulse Wave has little practical difference, rules changes required tweaking Hypersonic Speed a bit more.

The challenge with Hypersonic Speed is that it’s just such a rule-breaking power, and when cleaning up the rules as we are, changes to it are inevitable.

As we mentioned with Carrying, movement sensibly now ends when the character stops moving, rather than allowing attacks in the middle of movement. There’s no “temporarily stopping but not really” anymore. So Hypersonic Speed had to be divided into some kind of “move, attack, move” structure and we explored the implications of that in depth.

With two separate moves, if your character also had  (or another way to get the ), you then could carry TWICE per activation of Hypersonic Speed. You could bring a fresh guy into the fight, and you could take a wounded guy back out to be healed. Oh, and then make an attack, too. All for one action. Or alternatively bring an Enhancement / Empower guy along with you, and because you place them when the first move ends (before making the attack), you could easily pump up your damage values every time, but keep that character safe by picking them up again. For another example, you could place a character with Plasticity to tie up opponents, and then safely retreat far away. The playtesting on it showed us how overpowered this was.

So looking back at what the players wanted, they wanted Hypersonic Speed to stay “about the same”, but no one thought it was too weak and needed a big boost. Double-carrying was highly problematic and lead to some unfun games. After some debate and testing, we decided it was best to remove the ability to carry from Hypersonic Speed entirely. So Hypersonic Speed has :0 now, and you can’t carry while using Hypersonic Speed.

We couldn’t pair carrying directly with Hypersonic Speed and its multiple moves, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t want characters with both and Hypersonic Speed to be better than average at carrying. So we made the BREAKAWAY +2 (BREAKAWAY +/-X is our keyphrase for “increase or decrease this character’s roll to break away by X”) into a static ability before the action. So now, when you use a Basic Move action and have and Hypersonic Speed, you can carry as normal but also enjoy the Breakaway +2 bonus. You’ll get the bonus no matter how you move, including with Sidestep, if you also can use Hypersonic Speed. Players thought it made a lot of sense that a Hypersonic Speed character would be harder to hold back, even if they’re not running super fast at that particular moment.

Another change that needed to happen for simplification was combining : and :. We never even really gave these symbols a proper name, and the first one was used ONLY in Hypersonic Speed. Well, now there’s only one symbol and it has a name. : is called “Improved Movement: Pass”.

Can move through squares adjacent to or occupied by opposing characters, without stopping. (Still needs to break away.)

So, what this means is that Hypersonic Speed characters can now move through opposing characters, not just “beside” them like before. This was a subtle difference that confused players and only applied here. We’ve mentioned before how characters can now move through the “gaps” between objects because they aren’t hindering terrain, and Hypersonic Speed characters in particular get a boost from that. Similarly, flavor-wise Hypersonic Speed characters can now find “gaps” to safely run through a group of opposing characters. Just like they do in the comics.

It’s a power boost that proved somewhat interesting (and finally worked like Flight and everything else), but not dominating. Often a Hypersonic Speed character could find a way to “run around” the characters anyway, but this definitely helped on certain maps and with certain low-speed characters.

As part of now being two separate moves, Hypersonic Speed may now require two break away rolls. Hypersonic Speed characters break away easily, but you may have to roll before moving again and there’s a chance of rolling a 1 and getting stuck in a spot you don’t want to be.

Related to that, a more subtle change came with its interaction with Plasticity. Just like before, : does not get around Plasticity. So, Hypersonic Speed characters have to stop when moving adjacent to a character with Plasticity, and now they need to break away again before beginning the second move. That’s in Plasticity’s favor. But under current rules, with the attack “in the middle of a single move”, it was interpreted to mean that moving adjacent to a character with Plasticity meant that they couldn’t make an attack at all. That is definitely not the case now, and while you have to stop, you will get to attack the Plasticity character (or anyone else you can) just fine. Players thought this was the more important new difference, and that overall Hypersonic Speed is better against Plasticity.

The last major difference is something we discussed as part of inherent abilities, that the inherent Destroy and Object actions are their own CLOSE and RANGE actions and no longer “combo” with Hypersonic Speed. So you can no longer destroy terrain or objects or make object attacks while using Hypersonic Speed. We’re trying hard to keep effects from unnecessarily piling on top of each other, as “what happens with simultaneous effects” is a large portion of rules questions.

Without further ado, here it is in all its glory:

Hypersonic Speed
BREAKAWAY +2. POWER: Halve range, :, :0. Move, then make an attack, then move up to ‘your speed value minus the number of squares just moved’.

Except for :0, every part of the text is a new language version of what exists now, but there are several underlying changes as we’ve described above that make it function differently in some circumstances.

We’re trying to clean up corner cases, and Hypersonic Speed was infested with them. Players wanted to keep Hypersonic Speed at a similar power level, and it got four upgrades (run through characters, run through objects, better against Plasticity, static break away bonus) and three downgrades (not carrying, breaking away twice, and not using Destroy/Object actions). The players we’ve been working with report it feels the same to them in playtesting, but it’s more focused on “running and attacking fast” and its interactions are clearer and easier to understand.

Unlike for Hypersonic Speed, we’ll just spoil Pulse Wave for you now.

Pulse Wave  
RANGE: Halve range, : , . Other characters within range can’t use powers or abilities (for this action). Make a range attack targeting all characters, at least one of which must be opposing, within range and line of fire using their printed defense values. If more than one character is targeted, each hit character is dealt 1 damage instead of normal damage.

Pulse Wave, like everything else, has a bit of new language, but almost nothing practical has changed about it for the majority of players. It may not surprise you that Pulse Wave is the number one standard power for rules questions (number two: coming to an article soon!) and this language cleans up a lot of corner cases. There definitely will still be questions about it, but testing has shown there should be much less, and it’s important to us and players to keep Pulse Wave as the flexible answer that it is.

Making it use “printed defense values” clears up a lot of potential avenues of questions. Making it “shut off” powers and abilities before drawing lines of fire for the attack should handle some more. Like Outwit, we’re saving discussion of how it interacts with durations for another time.

Note that we’ve broadened the definition of abilities to include any game text on a HeroClix card that isn’t a power, but not including things like name, point cost, keywords, etc. So this essentially “blanks out” all character cards in range and any powers granted to the affected characters by other means. A few effects can still trigger, like “When a friendly character is KO’d” from a character outside of Pulse Wave’s range, but not many.

One more thing to cover is “Protected: Pulse Wave”. As many of you guessed, this is one of the three specific Protected abilities and is replacing the phrase “can’t be ignored”. The word “ignore” in general caused massive confusion and rules questions, and we are eliminating it from HeroClix rules language entirely. It rarely was clear enough what parts of what were being “ignored” by what, and like in Outwit, Pulse Wave now uses the phrase “can’t use” instead. Here’s the ability for reference:

Protected: Pulse Wave.
If this is applied to a power or ability, the character can use that effect during Pulse Wave. “Can’t be used” doesn’t apply to this keyphrase.

Finally, there was a vigorous and highly spirited debate about “single-target” Pulse Wave. There are some good arguments to be made that it infringes on what Penetrating/Psychic Blast does and that it’s not really core to what Pulse Wave is trying to do, which should be closer to ranged Quake plus shutting down powers. In the end, one of our goals is to not change things unnecessarily, and this seemed like an interesting but unnecessary change for now, so “single-target” Pulse Wave is staying.

Thanks for joining us for this tale of two powers, similar in intent and philosophy but inevitably forced apart by circumstance.

Keep on Clixin’!

2017-03-17T17:51:49+00:00 March 17th, 2017|2017, HeroClix Rules|