HeroClix 2017 Rules 9: Mind Control

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,

This may sound familiar. You Mind Control an opponent’s character, and do some awesome effect with it, and then the game grinds to a halt. You and your opponent are unsure if you can actually do that, or what it means when you return that character to them. Who keeps any generated bystanders? When do any markers they made disappear? What if you use an effect that removes them from the map (like piloting a vehicle)? How do effects with durations work with it? What about using Mind Control with the Mind Controlled character? Many, many other corner cases exist with individual powers and traits.

Mind Control is the standard power that is second only to Pulse Wave in terms of rules questions from players (as many of you guessed from the last article). Since special powers were introduced, Mind Control rulings have slowly grown from “a few corner cases exist, but are understood” to “this power has far too many corner cases and individual rulings for the health of the game”.

Well, it’s about time to fix that.

But first, a little background. Mind Control was one power where there was no immediate clear path forward. Almost all players agreed that it needed work to eliminate corner cases. What that actually meant was vague in different player’s minds. The main idea of Mind Control was clear enough, in that it should let you use an opposing character to bash another opposing character, but every player we talked to thought that the specific details of how it worked could be different.

For a long time, we tried having a Mind Controlled character not actually change forces, as that was a primary point of rules confusion. You could just give an action to an opponent’s character, and that would let them attack friendly characters. It mostly worked, but some powers that said “friendly” became very unintuitive. It came with its own set of questions. We soon realized that it really didn’t have less questions than the way it is now, just different ones. So we abandoned that approach.

We tried several other approaches, but none were working exceptionally well. The sticking point always seemed to come back to one thing in the current text: “any action”. By allowing a character to use “any action” it was simply impossible to get a handle on the potential questions and interactions because there were unlimited possibilities for what that action could be.

Some advocated for just throwing in the towel and leaving it as is and continuing to deal with all the questions, but we eventually found a solution that we thought might be the one. Testing showed it as powerful and interesting, and a whole lot less prone to complication and confusion than the previous version. Here it is:

CLOSE/RANGE: Minimum range value 4. Make a close/range attack. Instead of normal damage, a hit character halves speed and becomes friendly to your force and in either order may: move and/or make an attack. Then it reverts forces. After resolutions, deal this character 1 feedback damage if all hit characters’ total point value is 150 points or more.

This is a version that focuses on the best aspects of Mind Control (bashing an opponent with their turncoat friend). There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s dive in.

For new language, we have the following, all similar to existing language and defined as you would expect:

  • “CLOSE/RANGE:” and “make a close/range attack”. You can activate Mind Control with a CLOSE:, and then you can make a close attack to Mind Control someone adjacent, or you can activate it with a RANGE:, which will pair up with a range attack to Mind Control someone at a distance. Pretty simple. Your choice, of course, has no impact on what kind of attack the Mind Controlled character makes.
  • “Make an attack” without specifying which kind means the Mind Controlled character can make a close or a range attack.
  • “Reverts forces” means that the Mind Controlled character immediately rejoins the force of the player whose starting force or starting Sideline it began on.
  • “feedback damage” is now a defined rules term, after having spent many years as a casual term. Like pushing damage, it’s a type of unavoidable damage that CAN be avoided by effects that mention “feedback damage” specifically.

The real meat of the power, though, is this: “a hit character halves speed… and in either order may: move and/or make an attack.” That should make your mind whirl with the possibilities. Almost every character will now be a viable target for Mind Control, whereas before some characters just couldn’t do much when Mind Controlled because of the lack of a ‘move and attack’ power or poor positioning.

You also get your choice of order! You can either first make an attack, and then move, or you can move into position first for the perfect strike. This effect is like giving your Mind Controlled minions a power that’s Charge and Running Shot mixed together, but is a whole lot simpler in terms of interactions.

We realize this feels like a big change, and there are trade-offs, of course. Unless the hit character has a static effect (like Hypersonic Speed’s BREAKAWAY +2) or something that triggers off moving or making an attack, you won’t be able to use that character’s power or abilities. It’s no longer a way to get access to a support power that you didn’t have – if you want Outwit or Perplex, you’ll need to bring it yourself.

While it has lost some of the almost unlimited flexibility it had before, it still has a ton of strategic depth, and giving the hit characters their own (half speed) move and attack definitely opened up new strategies. It traded its flexibility for a lot more consistency. You don’t need opposing characters to be in particular alignments or have particular power sets to make good use of Mind Control anymore. Power-level wise, players couldn’t agree and some thought it was a bit better than before and some thought it a bit worse, but overall not too far away from where it stands in today’s environment.

It’s also proven to be much faster and easier to administer in gameplay. You don’t need to know every power and trait on an opponent’s character card before deciding which character to Mind Control. You can look at the combat values on their dial and have a very good idea of how useful that character would be.

A question that quickly arose was “Does it work the same with multiple targets?” The new rulebook will make it clear that you resolve each “hit character” effect sequentially, and that each character only joins your force for the time that you are moving and attacking with them, so they can still “bash each other”, just like now.

Mind Control is still a fairly complicated power in what it does, and some questions will remain, but that complication no longer gets exponentially multiplied by the number of other “effects” that you can add into it. It now does its primary job and does it well, which is positioning your opponent where they don’t want to be and forcing them to attack their friends. We are confident that you’ll have a lot of fun playing with the new Mind Control!

Until next time, keep on Clixin’!

 

2017-03-20T16:00:55+00:00 March 20th, 2017|2017, HeroClix Rules|