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.

Hey HeroClix fans,

Time to dig into one of the favorite powers of many a HeroClix player, the answer to whatever your opponent’s packing… Outwit.  Outwit is one of the key mechanics of HeroClix. It keeps the metagame healthy by encouraging players to diversify their forces and methods of winning. Teams that go “all-in” on a certain strategy must account for the fact that an Outwit-heavy team might make things difficult.

However, Outwit has fallen on hard times in HeroClix. Outwit was always intended to “stop” a character from using a particular power, but has been weakened over the years due to some pretty deep rules about the difference between “use” and “possess”.

Outwit’s restriction that you can only choose a power currently “possessed” by a character is quite limiting in Modern Age play. Resources, equipment, ID cards, “pick a power” and many other effects can all allow characters to “use” powers without “possessing” them. There’s a large class of effects that Outwit just can’t stop anymore.

Well, all that’s about to change.

FREE: Minimum range value 6. Choose a power (standard or special) and a target opposing character within range and line of fire. The target can’t use the chosen power until your next turn.

There is no “possessing” a power anymore. For example, having a pink colored square in your speed slot now functions exactly the same as having “Sidestep” in the text of a special power. It was rather easy to remove “possess”, there’s only one prominent power (Outwit) and one prominent ability (Wild Card) that cared about it.

Some recent characters have had “can’t use” effects. One reason this was used was to have characters that can plug some of the holes that Outwit currently has. These “can’t use” effects have worked out fine, rules-wise, but players have rightly discussed why HeroClix needed two closely related but, slightly different rules terms in “counter” and “can’t use”. “Can’t use” seemed like the natural complement to characters “using” powers, so “counter” is being removed. Characters with “can’t use” powers work exactly the same as before, and the rare character with a non-Outwit power that says “counter” now says “can’t use”. Combining the elimination of “possess” and “counter” together, you now either can use something, or an effect says you “can’t use it”, and that’s it. No more nuance.

So what can you do with the new Outwit? First off, you can choose any standard or special power. We mean it, any. It can be a power currently displayed in the slot, or a power on their card that’s on a future click of their combat dial, or a standard power that’s granted by an equipment object on the map. Any standard or special power you want, even a special power that the target doesn’t have on its card (though this would only be useful for a handful of characters ever made.)

Please note, as this is very important, choosing a special power does not allow you to choose a trait or Improved ability or any other kind of ability. It needs to be a special power  – and that always has a (black-bordered) white square on a character’s combat dial in their Speed, Attack, Defense, or Damage slot.

There’s a somewhat subtle difference between choosing a standard or special power that we wanted to make clear. Here’s an example.

A special power named “Wild” has the text “Charge, Flurry.” If you choose “Wild”, that character can’t use that power, so he can’t use either Charge or Flurry from that specific power. But if he picks up an equipment that grants Charge, he can still use Charge just fine. Even more likely, if he takes some damage and turns to a click with standard (green square) Charge instead of the special, he can use that Charge just fine, too. You often will get to stop “more” by choosing a special power, but only get to stop that exact special power.

On the other hand, if you choose “Charge” (a standard power) he can use the Flurry from “Wild” just fine. But that character can’t use Charge, no matter how he has been granted it. Even if he has “Charge” in a trait, he can’t use Charge, though he can use any other part of that trait that doesn’t trigger off of Charge.

So, it boils down to this: If you choose a special power, the Outwitted character can’t use that exact special power. If you choose a standard power, they can’t use that power at all, no matter how they can access it.

So how do traits work with Outwit, then? The players we’ve talked to didn’t want a blanket way to “stop” traits. It would be an endless sea of questions about what happens when specific complex traits “couldn’t be used”. So, you can’t choose traits for Outwit, just like now. However, you now can choose a standard power that might be part of a trait, and that might “stop” the trait, either in whole or in part. But by limiting it to well-understood standard powers, we eliminate a lot of the potential confusion inherent in trying to entirely “stop” a trait (that could be anything) by itself.

A question that might be on the savvy HeroClix player’s mind at this point would be “What about ‘can’t be countered’, how is that going to work?” Well, we have a new keyphrase we want to share.

Protected: (Effect). The specified effect can’t target or deal damage to this character, and any duration of the specified effect affecting this character expires. “Can’t be used” doesn’t apply to this keyphrase.

SIDEBAR: This is used to give the entire character protection. (“This character has Protection: Outwit”). The character can’t be targeted (or dealt damage, which is unlikely) by the Outwit effect at all. If it is applied to a specific power or ability on that character, it has a more limited and specific effect, see below.

Protected: Outwit. If this is applied to a specific power, the character can still use it even if it’s chosen by Outwit. “Can’t be used” doesn’t apply to this keyphrase.

SIDEBAR: This used to be called “can’t be countered”.

The important part is “The specified effect can’t target or deal damage to this character”, the rest is technical stuff to clean up corner cases and make it work like people expect. There’s two types: ‘general’ Protected, the first one above, and then ‘specific’ Protected (3 types, Outwit is one of them) that can only be applied to individual powers. (A savvy HeroClix player might be able to guess the other two, replacing other common HeroClix phrases.)

Note that for ‘general’ Protected, it’s specifically limited to targeting and dealing damage, as anything else gets complicated. We’ll still write out other things like “can’t be knocked back.” But there is a pretty wide variety of effects that can pair with ‘general’ Protected, everything from ‘Mind Control’ to ‘opposing Perplex’ to ‘Mystics damage’, etc.

Another few quick notes:

  • We’ve cleaned up durations (“until”) in HeroClix and how effects like Outwit interact with them, but we’re going to save talking about it for another time.
  • Outwit is losing one thing: the ability to stop “combat abilities”. Over the years, Outwit had dabbled in stopping things like  (Indomitable), but after the introduction of traits cost Outwit some utility, it was formalized to stop the category of “combat abilities” (and then several of them added “Can’t be countered” anyway). Well, combat abilities don’t exist anymore, so this was an easy cut. Now there is only a single category of “keyphrase abilities”, and some of them are granted by symbols, and some aren’t. None of them can be chosen for Outwit, though Indomitable can still be “stopped” by choosing Willpower.
  • If you’re concerned that Outwit is now “too good”, like all changes, we’ll be listening to feedback and monitoring it but playtesting has shown that Outwit now has a chance to reassert its valuable role in the metagame. Changes to it were necessary given the cleaning up of the rules language, and it finally has the chance to shine again. Outwit is back to full strength and can promote a diversity of builds and interesting choices before and during matches.

That’s all for today. Keep on Clixin’!

PS: Thanks again for your comments and observations! In particular, shout out to Carlos and Stefano who wrote in last week with ideas that aligned with a lot of what was covered in this article. We also got a lot of feedback on Poison, and are still talking about it, and appreciate your comments.