Design Insight: HeroClix Skirmish – Rules Update!

In August we announced Skirmish, a HeroClix Random Starting Position Format. We mentioned in the article that we’ve performed internal playtesting but wanted to get community feedback to make the format even better. After seeing it out in the wild and with some additional tweaks are excited to announce the beta launch of the Skirmish format!

We’ve broken the changes from the initial launch into two categories: New Rules, and Changes to original Skirmish Rules. First, we’ll share the feedback, then the new rule. If you just want a rules summary with no explanation, please skip to the end of the article.

New Rules

Lots of players mentioned that 4-player Skirmishes felt too chaotic with many multi-base characters. There were lots of large targets, but also plenty of big characters getting in the way – sometimes you would have trouble positioning to target the player who might pose the biggest threat. Instead, you’re more or less forced to beat up on someone else, and they weren’t even threatening you!

  • For 3 or 4-Player Skirmishes, update to Format: Only 1 Multi-Base Character per Starting Force (Peanut, 2×2, etc).

Special terrain doesn’t fit well into the frenetic action we want Skirmish to be about, so we’re removing it.

  • For all Skirmish Games, update to Format: No Special Terrain on Starting Forces or Sidelines.

Changes to Original Skirmish Rules

Equipment and special objects have a weird feel in the original version of Skirmish. They’re too challenging to place – 5 squares away from any starting area can lead to objects ending up in squares that are very far away. Instead of having objects become (mostly) unfun, Special Objects will now be allowed to be placed 2 squares away from any starting area. Lots of players felt running to pick up your stuff created a mini-game at the start of the match that felt like a chore; you were probably either picking up objects or trying to disrupt your opponent. This fundamentally goes against the point of Skirmish – getting into the combat and positioning right away! There are too many exciting objects in HeroClix though, and so we decided to go a step further and allow 1 character per force to start the game equipped. If an effect on a character would already allow them to begin the game equipped, they don’t count against this rule.

  • During Game Setup: Special objects may be placed at least 2 squares away from a starting area.
  • After all characters are placed, one character per force (starting with the first player) may have an object equipped to them.

The Rule of First Round Limitations has a damage reduction element. Currently, it reads like this:

  • Once, at any time during another player’s first round, when a character on your force would take damage, you can reduce the damage dealt to that character by 2 (if multiple characters would be hit, you can only reduce the damage dealt to one of them). Penetrating damage can’t be reduced by this effect.

We liked the rule, and so did players – but the consensus was that pushing it a little further would be positive. This effect needed protection from Pulse Wave and Penetrating damage. Simply put: having your main attacker disabled by Penetrating/Psychic Blast and/or Pulse Wave before you get to do anything isn’t fun. The rule was also a little wordy. The new version tackles all these things.

  • Once during an opponent’s first round, when a friendly character would take damage, you may reduce penetrating damage and reduce the damage taken by 2 in addition to any other reducers.
  • Pulse Wave can’t be activated during a player’s first round.

In 2-player games, winning by Victory Points wasn’t just unlikely – many players weren’t close even when they were winning. Time was more impactful than Victory Points for ending games, and that was never our intent. We had overestimated the amount of damage players would be dealing. Moving the victory condition to 15 Victory points (from 20) helps make dealing damage more interesting as a possible win condition in head-to-head Skirmish play. Players will be able to make the strategic choice of HOW they’d like to try and win the game.

  • Victory Conditions: The first player to score 15 Victory points in a 2-player game, or 20 Victory Points in a 3 or 4-player game wins immediately.

Bystanders weren’t referenced explicitly in Determining Victory Points. KO’ing a Bystander should count as dealing a click of damage.

  • While you are the active player, score 1 point for every Bystander Token character that you KO.

Rules Summary:

  • For 3 or 4-Player Skirmishes, update to Format: Only 1 Multi-Base Character per Starting Force (Peanut, 2×2, etc).
  • For all Skirmish Games, update to Format: No Special Terrain on Starting Forces or Sidelines.
  • During Game Setup: Special objects may be placed at least 2 squares away from a starting area.
  • After all characters are placed, one characters per force (starting with the first player) may have an object equipped to them.
  • Once during an opponent’s first round, when a friendly character would take damage, you may reduce penetrating damage and reduce the damage taken by 2 in addition to any other reducers.
  • Pulse Wave can’t be activated during a player’s first round.
  • Victory Conditions: The first player to score 15 Victory points in a 2-player game, or 20 Victory Points in a 3 or 4-player game wins immediately.
  • While you are the active player, score 1 point for every Bystander Token character that you KO.

You’ll note our Beta label. We suspect there’s still going to be a few issues arising specifically regarding combos we haven’t been able to vet thoroughly. Players should stay tuned for future announcements regarding release of an official format and an updated Banned and Restricted list.

You can find a Skirmish map here.

You can find the rules for Skirmish here.

As before, we’ll be opening up the email gamefeedback@wizkids.com until we release this as an official format. Please note that we will not be able to reply to all these emails, but we will be reading and taking your concerns into consideration. We hope you’ve been enjoying the Skirmish format, and if you haven’t tried it out yet we hope you do soon!