Dear HeroClix Players,
Back in 2016 we described our plan for placing the HeroClix dial information on the front of the character card and allowing it to be visible to all players. This caused a lot of concern in the Clix Community, and ultimately, we made a less dramatic change to HeroClix character cards – one where we’d put the dial on the back so the controlling player could view their own dials.
With WWE HeroClix on the horizon, adding new Standard Powers to the PAC and hopefully an influx of new players into our game, we re-investigated the benefits of all players being able to view the combat dial on each figure.
As you may have heard us communicate at shows like Origins, WizKids World Championships, or Alliance Open House, one of our goals with products like WWE or The Orville is that we will attract people who aren’t already playing HeroClix. We know that many locations in the HeroClix community do a great job socially of welcoming to these people, and we’re sincerely appreciative of that. We believe that making the game easier to enjoy and understand is an important part of what we as a company can do to support players and retailers who are getting HeroClix newbies up to speed as invested players. Visible dials are a part of that. Starting November 6th, 2019 (two weeks after the official North American release date for WWE HeroClix) the HeroClix tournament rules section about “Character Cards with Visible Dials” will be amended to say the following:
Character Cards with Visible Dials: A player may ask to view another player’s card at any time. Players should not spend an excessive amount of time reviewing character cards.
We understand that some people may think this change is too radical (as they did in 2016). We also want to state explicitly: we appreciate that change can be difficult. We’re sympathetic to the players who have spent not only a lot of effort in memorizing particular meta-worthy dials, but in perfecting methods to quickly learn dials in general as part of their HeroClix practice regimen. Our hope is that the players that this might take one advantage away from are in fact some of the most skilled, experienced, and tactical HeroClix players who will still have a great time playing against opponents of all skill levels even if the playing field might not favor them as greatly as it previously did.
We wanted to address some of the strongest arguments we’ve received on the topic, as well as present additional information that led us to this decision.
Won’t play just slow down from people viewing dials on cards?
This was also a concern raised with our back of card implementation. In the intervening three years, we haven’t seen this to be true in tournament play and our surveys of local communities reinforced this perception. If anything, it may have contributed to speedier play. One of the reasons that we allowed players to view their own character’s dials via the back of the card is it made decision making easier and faster. A player who didn’t have their dial memorized could quickly evaluate the consequences of pushing damage that would move them from click 2 to click 3 – they’d know what powers they’d end up with, instead of trying to evaluate two different sets of possibilities. For example, knowing that your character has Invulnerability on their next click, instead of wondering if Toughness might be good enough for your upcoming defensive position.
There was a counter argument that if players had certainty about what their future Clix held, it might slow play because they’d have information that could cause them to have decision paralysis. While that might be true of some players, we’ve received feedback from experienced players and communities that the typical case is a glance at the dial speeds up decisions. Some of those same players, unprompted, said that they’d offer their cards to their opponents to speed up decision-making. These players were leaning into something we had hoped to be true all along: most players want to make key decisions and not spend time trying to remember information to help with those decisions.
Won’t players spend a ton of time on how to split up damage with characters that can multi-target?
One of the corner cases where an inexperienced player might spend more time making decisions based on a perfect knowledge of opposing dials is when their character can target multiple characters. Dividing damage up in an optimal way might slow down game play a little, but again some of our competitive players believe that overall viewing the dials speeds up games on average.
Won’t this just be a possible stalling tactic for people?
This was one of the arguments made heavily to us in 2016. We think this is pretty unlikely, but if players are attempting dishonest stalling tactics there are already opportunities – and more importantly – penalties for that behavior.
Why make a change so focused on new players? Do you really think they’ll make better decisions with all this extra information?
Brand new players won’t instantly make better decisions based on this change, but visible dials help them feel like they know the direction the game is going. Visible information is conducive to learning and makes the game more accessible for the new player. With so many things for new players to learn, removing the barrier (even if it’s just a perception) of memorizing dials is a big help.
Learning players will be able to apply tactics for opposing threats to focus on without guessing about their dial. Players with moderate experience will level up into confident players much faster.
The beauty of HeroClix isn’t limited to surprise in a dial. The most enjoyable parts are different for everyone, but typically include nuanced tactical decision-making, strategic team-building, beautiful pre-painted sculpts, and exciting head-to-head combat. We realize that this might dampen a moment of surprise and delight in some games – but from the feedback we’ve received, if there is a surprise when a character hits click 4 and they have Running Shot and Pulse Wave, the negative feeling for the player, especially a beginning player, on the bad end of it greatly outweighs the delight of the player who benefits from this. In many situations, there was no surprise anyway or the expert player: they frequently know what’s coming up on the dial (eventually) from the front of the card if not outright memorization. Many surprise and delight moments of HeroClix remain intact when players see opposing teams, unanticipated strategies, or the result of die rolls (theirs or their opponents).
As always, players at home can still play the classic way of not looking at the dial on the card.
We regularly think about new players—from set list construction to the wording of special powers and traits. We can’t quantify this, but we know players who have remained invested in HeroClix through our focus on new players and have grown into beloved members of their local community and the HeroClix scene at large. We can sense the growth and excitement in HeroClix as the play continues to evolve and become an experience that the community wants to continue to invest their time and money into.
We didn’t come to this decision lightly. This isn’t the only thing we’ll be doing in the next year to make HeroClix more inviting to new players or up-and-coming retailers, but don’t worry—this is the major one. We understand that some people who are reading this might strongly disagree with it, but overall we hope that our fans will support us in our attempt at welcoming in and retaining new HeroClix players. We’re trying to grow the game into new stores and markets, and want to thank the players who are already helping this happen. We’ve got some exciting plans for 2020 and appreciate your continued enthusiasm for HeroClix as we reveal all that’s coming!