The Standard Powers in HeroClix are part of what makes it feasible to fit so much game play information onto the Combat Dial™. However, 48 Standard Powers is a lot of powers. When you consider all of the in-game terms a player needs to understand to play HeroClix, it’s a little over 100 terms. We wanted to make this less daunting without eliminating abilities from the game. The result is that starting with DC HeroClix: Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary there will be Standard Powers that aren’t used on any of the figures in the set – they won’t be on the dials, they won’t be in the special powers. Internally we’ve referred to those powers as being on the bench.
While this isn’t a change to the rules it’s a meaningful change to the design of HeroClix that we know players will notice, and it’s part of the strategy we’re implementing to make the game easier to onboard beginners so we wanted to address this amongst the rules updates.
Why Bench Powers?
Like we said before, 48 Standard Powers is a lot of powers and reducing that number helps the game become more accessible to beginners. But just like The Indomitable Knot, the number of powers in HeroClix relates to other considerations.
One of our goals was to make sets and low-rarity figures (most importantly – commons) easier for new players to digest. One of the ways that we did that was by making the total quantity of different powers, standard or special, across ALL the commons smaller. Without putting a number on it, when a player opens a booster, they’ll be getting fewer different abilities than they would have before.
While the beginning of this initiative might not have a big impact on Modern Age gameplay (it will be one of nearly a dozen sets) at a later point it could be true that only half of the sets in Modern Age use certain powers. So we’re implementing a bottom-up change now for a benefit that will help future beginners even more than current ones.
Fewer Standard Powers Changes How Figures Feel Different From Each Other
Right now one of the ways that figures, especially low-rarity ones without many special powers, feel different from one another is that they have 2 or 3 Standard Powers on any given click that are different from similar figures. That inflates the complexity of common figures, and often inflates their point values too. In DC Comics HeroClix: Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary and upcoming sets, expect to see figures in similar roles that feel different because of their:
- Dial Length
- Combat Values
- Combos with Other Figures
For the most part, the things you’d need to do in any HeroClix game like deal damage, increase your combat values, or reduce damage, are still within grasp even though you have fewer standard powers to make those things happen.
Existing Standard Powers Get Better
By some Standard Powers getting printed on fewer figures, characters that have substitutional powers get better. When we say substitutional, we mean some powers fall in categories. The list of categories below isn’t official or comprehensive, and some powers could show up in multiple categories.
- Damage Reducers – Toughness, Invulnerability, Invincible, Impervious
- Evaders – Super Senses, Shape Change
- Mobility – Sidestep, Telekinesis, Charge, Hypersonic Speed, Running Shot
- Boosters – Perplex, Enhancement, Empower, Range Combat Expert, Close Combat Expert
- Terrain – Smoke Cloud, Barrier
- Piercers – Pulse Wave, Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Exploit Weakness, Precision Strike
- Utility – Outwit, Perplex, Probability Control
Specifically, what we’re talking about is most obvious when looking at the Boosters. With multiple ways to boost your combat values, we frequently see players gravitate toward Perplex. It’s almost always the best one even if it costs more points to have it on your dial. High-value figures with Enhancement or Empowerment are more likely to shine if there are fewer Perplex figures in the metagame to use as functional substitutes.
Which Standard Powers are Benched?
See the list below, along with a brief rationale as to why we sat these powers out. They’re not gone forever, but you might not see them for a little bit. Overall, we still like some stuff about these powers – but it’s worth designing figures without them for a few months to make the game better overall. This list isn’t exhaustive either, you’ll see some powers on the PAC that aren’t on any characters in Wonder Woman 80th.
Leap/Climb – Given the overwhelming popularity of Mobility powers in the speed slot, Leap/Climb is often seen as a lost opportunity, sort of like how Willpower was often seen before Indomitable. There’s a good chance Leap/Climb comes back in a slightly more powerful form, but for now it’s taking a break.
Super Strength – As a power that was previously more complicated, and has diminishing returns throughout the game (since heavy objects get used up), we wanted to give Super Strength a break in favor of powers that are typically more useful throughout the entire game.
Willpower – Since we were making such a big change to Willpower, and so few characters have it on their dial as is (because they have it via Indomitable) we didn’t want to cause a big shake-up with a new standard power.
Earthbound/Neutralized – This power is often a drawback, and is used on very few figures. Since most players don’t want it on their figures, it was a good candidate to take a break.
Precision Strike – Precision Strike is similar to Exploit Weakness but more complicated.
Pulse Wave – Pulse Wave can feel really negative to get hit with. Experienced players have practice playing around it, but having not just your reducers blown through, but all of your other stuff ignored, AT RANGE feels bad. It even had options for single or multiple characters! Penetrating/Psychic Blast will have more opportunities to shine with Pulse Wave taking a break.
Battle Fury – The usefulness of Battle Fury is really hard to understand for a beginner. It’s a great choice for veteran players trying to play around Shape Change and Mind Control, but given that Shape Change is also on the bench (see below) we felt comfortable benching Battle Fury.
Ranged Combat Expert – Enhancement is relatively better than Empower, so we benched RCE because it lets your range attackers be more self-sufficient. Range attackers are inherently stronger than close attackers, so self-sufficiency wasn’t something they needed as badly.
Perplex – Perplex is an all-star power. Plenty of great options already exist to use Perplex. By benching it, characters that boost your stats (especially damage) get to be more meaningful.
Shape Change – Shape Change and Super Senses are similar enough, but Shape Change is a defensive ability that lives on the damage slot. It’s redundant and feels a little off compared to Super Senses.
Invincible – Invincible is one of the three reducers that reduces damage by 2, and its ability to reduce Penetrating Damage creates an exception to an exception. In the future, we’re likely to bench Impervious or Invulnerability instead to bring back Invincible.
Force Blast – Repositioning opposing characters can fluctuate between ineffective and totally oppressive, with new players rarely able to capitalize on the latter.
Hypersonic Speed – Hypersonic Speed is a little redundant compared to the other move-and-attack powers like Running Shot or Charge, but it offers stronger flexibility. Furthermore, you can often run away after KOing or severely damaging an opposing figure without even risking your own piece with worse positioning.
Support – Support is overly complex for what it does, but we didn’t want to rewrite the power without careful consideration. It also makes you roll 3 dice – which feels bad. The strong damage options for standard damage powers are some of the best in the game for utility roles like Outwit, Probability Control, Perplex, and Leadership.
Next time you hear from us about the 2021 Rules Changes we’ll be addressing the changes to the modal powers on the PAC. See you next time Masterminds!
To see everything we’ve revealed so far for the 2021 rules update and Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary, check here