Reminder: These rules are not finalized yet and will not replace the current rules until sometime near the release of DC Comics HeroClix Batman: The Animated Series later in 2018. Email firstname.lastname@example.org from March 9th through March 15th 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,
About a year ago on March 1st we published the first of our 2017 Rules articles. We’re back, but don’t worry, there’s a lot less to say this time.
While we didn’t get everything perfect, overall the response to the new rules has been fantastic. We’ve heard opinions from many players and retailers, both in person and via email, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re happy with how well the changes have been received and how we heard they’ve streamlined gameplay in many ways. We’re committed to the same goals as last time – making HeroClix easier for new and current players without sacrificing strategic complexity.
There are no large-scale changes here, mainly a tightening up of our rules language. We focused on three areas of HeroClix that didn’t get quite as much attention last time while we worked on the core mechanics and standard powers – action totals, bystanders, and break away. We found what we hope are some ways to improve the rules language and gameplay for all three.
1) Action Totals
Action Totals have always been a bit strange. They’re a fixed value that resets every turn, but can also be increased or decreased. You take away from your “pool” of available actions every time you give a costed action. But they also can have minimum or maximums. It’s a lot of complicated nuance for something that’s pretty automatic most games.
We think there’s a simpler way to do it. We are going to treat an Action Total as a limit. Effects can increase or decrease this limit, but there’s no “pool” that’s taken away from. When you try and give an action, it checks if you’ve reached your current Action Total. If you have, you can’t give that action (or any other costed actions) to your characters this turn (unless something later increases your Action Total).
HeroClix has always been hesitant to make any characters that affect Action Totals negatively. A real concern has always been that if you could stack these effects, you could lock someone out of the game. And we don’t want that any more than you do! Last year we added a maximum Action Total of 10 to prevent high-point games from getting out of hand. We’re now adding a minimum Action Total of 2, so that no matter what effects apply, during your turn you’ll be able to give up to 2 costed actions (assuming you otherwise could give them.) So now we can be a bit more flexible in designing some interesting characters that negatively impact Action Totals.
Here’s the new section:
Each turn, you are limited in the number of costed actions you can give your characters. This limit is called your action total. At the beginning of the game, your action total becomes 1 for every 100 points of the game’s build total. Effects may increase or decrease your action total (usually temporarily), but regardless of effects it has a minimum value of 2 and a maximum value of 10.
The keyphrase “Action Total +/- X” is the most common way an Action Total is changed. It can be part of a passive effect or part of an action or triggered effect. If part of an effect that resolves (isn’t a passive effect) and no turn is specified, it applies to that turn. If no player is specified, it affects the player controlling that game element.
SIDEBAR: A passive effect including that keyphrase is “Your opponents get Action Total -1.” A triggered effect including it is “When this characters hits, your opponents get Action Total -1 during their next turn.”
For bystanders, nothing fundamental is changing, but we’ve got two pieces of new language that’ll hopefully make bystanders a bit easier to manage in game.
First, we’re introducing the first new combat symbol in a long time. It’ll be the only alternate symbol for the attack slot in Modern Age HeroClix. Let me introduce you to Autonomous.
This is an ability we’ve been trying out over the past few years, and it plays interestingly, especially in concert with characters that can generate more than one bystander. Some novel designs just don’t work at all without it.
Often this is the only “special” text a bystander has. And that can cause card layout issues, as well as some gameplay issues like needing to constantly remember a special power (or trait) when it’s only relevant to Action Totals.
We’ve also given out bystander tokens at events in the past and may do so again, and they play better if all of their information is right there on the front.
If it seems a bit weird to you, think of Autonomous as a companion to Indomitable . Both change fundamental parts of a costed action – pushing damage and comparing it to your action total. Both live in the combat slots that aren’t really tied to anything specific – the speed slot has and relating to movement, and damage has the size symbols, but these other two don’t.
Now, does this mean we can give Autonomous to non-Bystander characters? We can, but we’re planning on using it sparingly. It’s not thematically appropriate for most “named” characters, but it might be an option for a few “generics” or designs involving illusions or mirror images, etc.
The other new language for bystanders is relating to how many can be on the map at once. We think characters that can generate multiple bystanders can be pretty fun, but we often need to limit it so that it doesn’t get out of hand. We’ve used a lot of slightly different language to say what these limits are, and that’s lead to lots of questions on how they’re each applied, and what happens if you would “break” that particular limit. We’re standardizing it so that all bystander limits work the same way.
Here’s your new keyphrase:
[MAX X] There can’t be more than X of this generated game element on the map at one time. (Only counts those generated by the same character.)
SIDEBAR: A character has “FREE: Generate two rat bystanders [MAX 2].” If one rat bystander generated by this character is already on the map, you only generate one more rat bystander, not two. If two rat bystanders generated by this character are already on the map, this ability can be activated but nothing is generated.
3) Break away
When you fail to break away, there’s some rules issues involving the phrase “immediately resolve the entire action or special triggered effect.” This is a rules concept that isn’t really found anywhere else in HeroClix, and there’s been a number of questions about it. Someone tried to argue (fairly well, based on the current wordings) that you don’t get an action token if you fail to break away, since you “skip” to the action being resolved, which is after the time you’d get an action token for that action. It should be clearer in the rules that you get the action token, and other rules quirks and corner cases have popped up.
Also, in last year’s rules we had to say that break away only affects a character if it was given its own action, which is not only an extra clause, but also the only time that concept of “own action” is used in standard HeroClix. This was necessary to make characters that can move other characters work properly.
Now, Shape Change can do something related, but with Shape Change if an attack becomes illegal because it has no targets, the attack resolves but the rest of the action continues on just fine. So to fix all this, initially we tried the simplest solution of just having break away work like Shape Change – the move would end, but everything else in the action would continue on normally. But it was just too much of a change for low-cost ”tie-up” pieces, who could be attacked after a character failed to break away with Charge or Hypersonic Speed. They just lost too much utility.
What we really wanted was to clean this up without fundamentally changing what break away is. We found a solution that we think accomplishes this and doesn’t involve multiple concepts that aren’t used elsewhere in HeroClix.
If a character failed to break away, that move immediately resolves. For the rest of that action or that special triggered effect, that character can’t move or make an attack or be given actions “at no cost”.
SIDEBAR: When using the standard power Mind Control, a character that is “Mind Controlled” can move or attack in either order. However, if that characters tries to move first and fails to break away, it can’t then make an attack.
(and from earlier in the Core rulebook)
When an effect says that an attack or move “immediately resolves”, you skip any remaining steps in the attack or move sequence, respectively, and it’s considered resolved. That character is not considered to have attacked or moved.
The character ends their move (jumping through the well-defined move sequence from step 3 to the end), but the rest of the action (which doesn’t have specific steps) isn’t skipped or broken up. It just becomes that the character can’t move or attack or be given other actions “at no cost” for the rest of that action, and these are much more common and well-defined concepts in HeroClix. And this new break away now applies equally to all characters and all moves.
As mentioned above, this changes the answer to break away and Mind Control from last year a bit. Now, failing to break away with a Mind Controlled character works like anything else in HeroClix and doesn’t need a special exception – if you fail, that character can’t move or attack anymore that action. But not much else changes practically, mainly it cleans up some long-standing ambiguities.
4) Minor Stuff – Core Rulebook
-Fixed a few typos that snuck through (A an B – oops!), scaled back the use of quote marks, a few missed “Actions” after CLOSE and RANGE Destroy, etc. Lots of small grammatical tweaks.
-Change so that for a character to be considered damaged, its dial actually has to click. This lines it up with how healing works. Previously it would only have to take damage, which left open a possible loophole with some STOP effects.
-Change so that the square a line of fire is drawn from never counts when determining whether the line of fire is hindered. This rule applies to both hindering terrain and heavy objects in that square. This changes the answer to the age-old obscure HeroClix rule where a line of fire drawn to yourself (or your square) becomes hindered if you’re standing in hindering terrain. Now it makes sense and you can see yourself and the ground under you! Note that this rule applies even if you have a special power that lets you draw a line of fire from a square other than your own.
-Some clarification on how characters with multiple green start lines (Morlocks, X-Student, etc.) work
-A new sidebar example on how Flurry and Steal Energy work together in the triggered effects section
-Clarify that powers are lost (and their durations end) if a character is put into your Sideline
-Clarify that when a character is replaced, each replacement character gets as many action tokens as the replaced character had
-Clarify that having the new Autonomous symbol and Sharpshooter (in Golden Age) doesn’t disqualify you from being a “standard character”.
5) Minor Stuff – PAC
-Pulse Wave: add the missing “other” into “all other characters” so it’s clear you’re not attacking yourself.
-Smoke Cloud: make it so that the markers need to be placed in distinct squares again and make it clear that if you occupy more than one Smoke Cloud marker (because you’re multi-base), you only modify attack by -1 regardless of how many of that character’s markers you occupy.
-Battle Fury: make it so the character can’t be given RANGE actions in addition to not making range attacks. Led to a few corner cases.
-Outwit: make it so that if you choose a special power, it has to be printed on the target’s card. You can still choose any standard power, whether on their card or not. While there were a handful of uses in Golden Age with countering special powers granted to a character in certain ways, many of the effects that grant powers use traits to do so. It led to a lot more confusion and rules uncertainty than we thought, and we now have rules language for referring to printed cards, so we’re tightening this up. This shouldn’t have any impact in Modern Age.
-Great Size: Added Protected: Pulse Wave. This was always meant to be here and slipped by us last time. Pulse Wave isn’t intended to suddenly shrink you down for an instant, which leads to a weird line of fire interaction.
–NEW KEYPHRASE: Immune. This is being defined as what first-turn immunity gives a character – can’t be moved, placed, damaged, or targeted by opposing game elements. Now we can use it (very sparingly) as something a character could temporarily gain after the first turn.
When we wrote the rules articles last year, the consumer feedback really helped us to push forward and finalize those last few standard power changes (Blades/Claws/Fangs, Mind Control, Regeneration, Poison) that otherwise would have come out this year. So once again we’re opening up the email address email@example.com for a week (starting today March 9th through March 15th) to get some consumer perspective. We’re most interested in comments regarding the Core Rules and PAC changes above, but we’ll look at other suggested Core Rules or PAC tweaks.
Just note, we don’t see compelling evidence right now to revert any of last year’s major changes or restructure any standard powers, so anything along those lines would have to be exceptionally convincing. We’re not looking to change things for the sake of changing them, and as mentioned above, the standard powers we planned to rebalance this year got pushed forward. We’re just continuing with our stated goals, moving in the direction of simpler interactions and more straightforward gameplay.
The Comprehensive Rules will also be updated and published electronically around the time of the 2018 Core Rulebook’s release later this year. We’re also planning to have the Past Rules Supplement available this year.
Also please note that around the time of this rulebook’s release we’ll make available a document that lists notable changes to the PAC and Core rulebook from 2017 to 2018. While we of course think the Batman: The Animated Series starter is great (and it has a few additional surprises), we don’t want players to feel obligated to buy a starter just for a new rulebook and PAC every single year. We want you to buy a starter for the cool new content or to share with a new player. So we hope making a document like that easily available makes it easier for players to keep up with the Core and PAC changes from the previous year.
We’re planning to have one more article to address feedback and any final tweaks, and that’ll be it for major rules articles. So until then, keep on Clixin’!