HeroClix 2017 Rules 11: Probability 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,

As mentioned last article, we are at the end of our journey of “big” changes to HeroClix. There’s other fun stuff to share, and plenty of corner cases to clean up, but nothing else that playtesters rated as “sweeping”. We won’t guarantee that no other tweak will feel big to you personally, but for the majority of players, this article should be the last of the big changes. After this, our posts will be more sporadic, but we have heard all the wonderful feedback and there will be at least one article directly addressing that feedback.

It’s time to talk about Probability Control. Way back in article #2 on keywords, we mentioned some changes to Probability Control. (We said: “Note that a character that has already used Probability Control can’t also use it again in the same turn, because of its inherent once per turn restriction.”)

The change we hinted at earlier in the sidebar (though not the primary one made) is that instead of dividing Probability Control into “player” and “opponent” effects, it combines them together with the more common phrase “once per turn”, which has big implications for multi-player games. Here’s MOST of new Probability Control.

Probability Control
Once per turn, you may reroll a target character’s […] roll. A targeted character must be within range and line of fire, minimum range value 6.

That looks pretty familiar, and we’ll talk about what’s in the […] box in a bit. First, though, the concept of “rounds” was only used in this power, and it’s a concept that’s only relevant in multi-player games. Rules only for multi-player games should be in their own rulebook section. Now the rule is simply once per turn. This means Probability Control’s stock will go up in Battle Royales, as you can reroll on each opponent’s turn. Playtesters have reported it’s pretty good, but as expected those characters now have a much bigger target on their heads than before. Multi-player games tend to balance themselves out in just such a way. It adds more opportunity to “play politics” in a multi-player game by offering or withholding rerolls, which some players definitely enjoy.

One other note on the language. We make it very clear in the rules that a player who made the original roll is always the one to physically reroll the dice. We eliminated the terminology of “forcing” rerolls. Rerolls happen, but no matter what it’s always the same player, and we don’t need to specify.

We heard a lot of speculation that Probability Control was going to give action tokens or be only once per turn for your force, etc., but none of that is happening. The big change that’s coming has to do with the scope of Probability Control, not its use. Right now, it’s just too broad. Anytime you pick up the dice, for any reason, you have to think about whether you or an opponent are going to want a reroll.

The primary reason a change is necessary involves special powers (and traits). They weren’t around when it was decided Probability Control could reroll “anything”. Now, we have special powers in the game that have special and powerful effects, and they often require a tradeoff for using it – and one common tradeoff is that it doesn’t always work (or does less), based on the roll of a d6. Since Probability Control actively works against that kind of tradeoff there’s some possible roads that could be taken.

  • We could make those special powers immune to Probability Control, but this results in having to ensure every single special power of this type has a “can’t be rerolled” statement. This is what we try to do today, but it’s inelegant at best and if missed in editing/layout can cause unnecessary errata or metagame problems.
    • This also results in the players needing to read the card to know if Probability Control can affect a particular special power. This slows down the game and there is no inherent logic if something will or won’t be able to be rerolled until you read it.
  • Cost Probability Control higher than it is now to take into account special powers that involve special kinds of rolls, which have increased in recent years. This would result in Probability Control being costed very steeply for the vast majority of situations that it’s actually used for.
  • Focus Probability Control on what it’s most commonly used for.

We watched a lot of players play a lot of games with Probability Control. We made sure they all had characters with other powers that used d6 rolls. The vast majority of the time (and in many games all of the time) Probability Control was used to reroll either an attack or breakaway roll, mainly attack rolls. Though some local game scenes may vary, this seems pretty typical and certainly supports the notion of what Probability Control’s bread and butter is.

Here is where Probability Control has ended up:

Probability Control
Once per turn, you may reroll a target character’s attack roll or break away roll. A targeted character must be within range and line of fire, minimum range value 6.

This is a big change, but really, it probably should have always been this way. There are two rolls that are fundamental to every single game of HeroClix, one associated with attacking and one associated with moving, and here they are. Every other kind of die roll is something that only shows up occasionally in specific circumstances.

This is a downgrade in utility for Probability Control, no question, but based on its probable use we believe it’s only a slight downgrade in overall power. Players are still able to reroll the vast majority (and in many games all) of same the rolls that they were actually rerolling before. Whatever that difference is you’ll almost certainly be able to fill with more attack or break away rerolls, so Probability Control should seldom go unused, just like now. We definitely heard about those rarer times when it was used to reroll something else and may have been key in a particularly memorable match. We can understand and appreciate that but in the playtesting confirming this change, Probability Control still shined brightly and will continue to be a vital tool in the HeroClix toolbox.

As we said, some important changes affect standard powers, and this is no different. Force Blast, Blades/Claws/Fangs, Regeneration, Support, and Leadership can no longer have their d6 rolls be rerolled.

Allowing anything else to be rerolled, even some of those standard powers, is opening a Pandora’s Box and moving the power away from the fundamental rolls of the game. It would make you need to remember which non-fundamental rolls can or can’t be rerolled. And for all of these standard powers, we have been very cautious in design with the kind of special power tweaks we’ve made, because looming over everything was the possibility of multiple Probability Control turning those effects into near certainties, without adding clunky “can’t be rerolled” clauses to every single instance.

Some playtesters felt that Blades/Claws/Fangs, Regeneration, and Support in particular got “much worse”. But if the only reason these powers shine was their “combo” with Probability Control, then that’s not good enough. Those powers should be tweaked themselves. Ideally every standard power in HeroClix should be able to stand on its own and have useful and interesting things to do without needing to combo with other powers.

However, while those powers have been identified as probably needing a hard look at their relative power levels, as stated in our goals we also want to minimize the scope of changes this pass. So at this time, we are not going to rebalance them. They all still do what they did before, with some adjusted language. Just like Poison, they simply no longer combo in ways that impact important aspects of the game and its overall clarity and consistency. If they prove to be too weak, they will be on the short list for individual power-level adjustments next rules pass. Here they are for reference.

Blades/ Claws/ Fangs
When you hit and would deal normal damage during a CLOSE action, you may roll a d6. Deal damage equal to the result instead of normal damage.

POWER: Roll a d6. Heal a number of clicks equal to the result – 2.

POWER: Choose a target adjacent friendly character. If this character and the target aren’t adjacent to any opposing characters, roll 2d6. Add the result to this character’s attack value, and if that is equal to or higher than the target’s defense value, roll a d6. The target is healed of that result – 2, minimum result 1. (This is not an attack.)

A few notes about these powers:

  • In general, we tried to remove layering of effects and combos, but BCF is staying as a “combo” power that “rides” on CLOSE actions, as it always has been. We tried for a bit to make it its own CLOSE action, but then it truly was weak past the point of playability. Its combos with Flurry and Exploit Weakness (and Charge with them) are just too important to what it does in a game of HeroClix. For this pass, all we did was clean up the timing a bit and add a clause about needing to deal normal damage (ie, no combo with Mind Control or Incapacitate or Quake or most multi-target specials like Colossal Retaliation) to make interactions clearer.
  • Support got a minor upgrade in that it no longer uses “unmodified”, which is a term that isn’t being used any more. It duplicated “printed” in all but a handful of cases, and those were corner cases we wanted to eliminate. It simply uses your current attack value and your target’s current defense value like almost everything else. It still isn’t an attack so this mainly matters for Perplex. Just to note, it still works well with Defend and sharing low defense values.

A few notes about the change to Probability Control:

  • Playtesting showed that not having to stop and consider rerolling every die roll did actually save time in games. Players with lots of Probability Control on their force were definitely spending a bit of time considering rolls other than attack or break away rolls. This was with experienced players, and with new players it will likely be even more so. Now, you can focus and plan your Probability Control use for just those two things, rather than having to consider everything else.
  • Just to be clear, other characters that don’t have Probability Control, but have the ability to reroll rolls that aren’t attack or break away rolls can still do so. We’re not limiting the concept of rerolling, only Probability Control itself. There’s still fun and interesting powers that reroll with a much narrower scope, like a special Blades/Claws/Fangs power that lets you reroll it once each turn, for example. That would be an individual effect that was planned for. There’s one character in Modern Age HeroClix (Domino) that can reroll anything in a “general” sense, and it’s limited to only once per game.
  • Probability Control has been more or less a staple of competitive teams right from the start. Playtesting has shown that’s certainly not going to change. But the slight power downgrade it did receive might help make teams without Probability Control a bit more competitive, hopefully adding some diversity to the highest-level metagames.
  • As many of you guessed, “Protected: Probability Control” is our third and final type of ‘specific’ Protected. It’s replacing the phrase “can’t be rerolled”, but unlike for Protected: Outwit and Protected: Pulse Wave, it won’t be applied retroactively, as “can’t be rerolled” still has separate game meaning. Moving forward, this will be used instead of the older language. (Note that as a variation, a power may also be specifically protected from “friendly Pulse Wave” or “opposing Probability Control”, etc.) Here it is for reference:
  • Protected: Probability Control. If this is applied to a power or ability, any attack or break away rolls made while using that power or ability can’t be rerolled by Probability Control.

As you evaluate this change we hope you keep an open mind. During playtesting, this change began at the top of playtesters’ least favorite list. We received more feedback on this change than any other in the early stages. But, over time and in combination with all other changes, playtesters came to understand how it fit in, the benefits this had to the game, and that it really didn’t affect things as much as it appeared at first glance.

There’s still fun and interesting things to share, but we wanted to thank you for joining us on this journey so far. As we said, this is the last “big” change. We hope you’re not sick of us and we’ve really been energized and enjoyed hearing from you, the HeroClix fans, and getting your feedback. We plan on writing an article in response to that feedback soon.

Until then, keep on Clixin’!


2017-03-23T17:56:09+00:00 March 23rd, 2017|2017, HeroClix Rules|