We’ve previously mentioned that typically we’re only delivering a “slice” of a character in a HeroClix dial – that slice might range from as wide as a particular storyline to as narrow as a particular scene. Most players have appreciated this because it leads to lower point characters so they can get more of what they want onto a team. It also means they can have more choices to build fun teams instead of feeling like most of their team is locked-in after including their ~150 point tentpole and a key support character at ~50 points.
We wanted to apply that same advantage to Standard Powers. Take a look below for some of our thoughts on these Standard Powers and the before-and-after takes. We also want to note: just because a Standard Power isn’t doing everything it used to, doesn’t mean that we can’t (on a case by case basis) give the older flexibility to characters as part of a Special Power or Trait.
The 2018 version of Leap/Climb has two parts.
- Elevation does not affect adjacency when choosing targets for a close attack.
- MOVE: Improved Movement Elevated, Hindering, Outdoor Blocking, Move Through, BREAKAWAY +2. Move.
The first part is seldom relevant. When we did an informal survey of our most competitive playtesters, we found that between playtesting and tournaments they utilized this function of Leap/Climb about twice per year at most. It felt great when they did it, but as part of our goals in simplifying the rules we felt it was not worth the tradeoff of inclusion.
Leap/Climb isn’t most people’s favorite Standard Power, but it adds great flavor and flexibility to plenty of characters. Leap/Climb was worth rebalancing and improving. We wanted to make sure the upcoming PAC reflected the leanest Leap/Climb that players would be likely to utilize and recognize, especially if it meant a power boost.
- Improved Movement Elevated, Outdoor Blocking, Move Through
This new version is all about moving, and not about punching while clinging to a wall. This new version is also always on. So even if you’re moving with Charge, Sidestep, or Hypersonic Speed you’ll be able to use your improved movement capabilities instead of choosing between Leap/Climb and another Standard Power. Also, it may look like there was a nerf to Leap/Climb, but when you see the new rules for breakaway and Hindering Terrain, you’ll see why that isn’t the case.
What CAN’T telekinesis do? We jest – but the 2018 version of Telekinesis gives a lot of options. Skipping the technical speak, you can:
- Make a Range Object attack with an object.
- Move an object.
- Move a friendly character.
- Move an opposing character, as if you’re hitting with an attack.
It’s a lot to choose from! While the contrast between which modes you use and which ones you seldom use might not be as stark as with Leap/Climb, we found that when talking with experienced players their motives to use Telekinesis were usually:
- Repositioning and advancing their own characters
- Repositioning objects for the sake of their own characters
- Repositioning objects to keep them away from opposing characters
- Repositioning an opposing character to set up a KO
- Attacking with an object
By limiting Telekinesis to just the first two options, which are the majority of uses of Telekinesis, we were able to dramatically reduce the amount of text in the power and thus the learning/memory tax of what the power does and more importantly the on-map complexity of the decision of when and how to use telekinesis. Furthermore, low-point characters with Telekinesis won’t represent outsized gameplay options for their point cost. Finally, the reality of most strong attackers that could utilize Telekinesis is that they’d rather make range attacks than utilize the object attack mode of Telekinesis.
- Power: Minimum range value 6. Place one target friendly single-base character or object within range and line of fire into another square within range and line of fire. That square must be placed within 6 squares and line of fire from the target’s current square. Characters placed with this power can’t use Telekinesis this turn.
As stated earlier, the design team will from time to time re-inject some of the flavor and options of Telekinesis for certain figures through a special power or trait for more advanced options.
The Combat Experts and Perplex
Perplex, Ranged Combat Expert, and Close Combat Expert might not seem like complex powers – but they actually make players choose between some basic modes for close and range attacks respectively:
- +2 to attack
- +2 to damage
- +1 to each, attack and damage
And for Perplex, you actually pick between even more modes:
- Combat Value
For HeroClix veterans, this flexibility is awesome. Speaking of flexibility – it’s a little strange that Ranged and Close Combat Expert don’t combo with other Standard Powers, they’re only options. Options are powerful.
First, consider the impact of each of these powers. The unfortunate reality of the lack of combo-ability means that even though each of the Combat Experts is usually twice as potent as Perplex, neither of the combat experts is quite as useful in practice. There’s an argument that the flavor of Close Combat Expert and Perplex belong on different characters – but that isn’t always true. Wonder Woman has used cleverness, fists, and projectiles depending on the situation. She could Perplex someone or function as the appropriate Combat Expert.
Next, consider what you’ve seen on dials. You’ve probably seen the design team give out “Super-Perplex” where characters with a Trait or Special Power can give +2 as long as it isn’t to damage. We try to make the overall +3 to damage very tough to come by since its so powerful. Sometimes we let characters use Close or Ranged Combat Expert with Charge or Running Shot respectively. So overall, the best version of Close and Ranged Combat Expert were nearly always in Special Powers or Traits. Perplex is always awesome, but frequently so awesome that you want it in place of other attack or damage buffs. We found that we could achieve a lot of good things with minor tweaks to these abilities:
- Players can attack more quickly if we took out the choices from the Combat Experts
- Players don’t experience “blow out” levels of damage when their opponent gets lucky and hits with a +2 damage from a Combat Expert
- If the Combat Experts could combo with Running Shot and Charge, they’d gain some advantage relative to Perplex
- If Perplex didn’t impact damage, it would make the Combat Experts, Enhancement, and Empower relatively more desirable (at the dial and character level), and special power versions of Perplex would be less wordy
Ranged Combat Expert 2021
- This character modifies attack +1 and damage +1 while making a range attack or using RANGE destroy.
Close Combat Expert 2021
- This character modifies attack +1 and damage +1 while making a close attack or using CLOSE destroy.
These abilities are always on making them potent without adding choices. There’s also a chance for more characters to destroy stuff this way.
- FREE: Minimum Range value 6. Choose a target within range and line of fire. Modify one of that character’s combat values other than damage +1 or -1 until your next turn.
Perplex is a really deep ability, so we wanted to focus on two reasons for the change in particular.
In talking with players and how to improve the game, they kept coming back to the best matches are those that are give and take brawls that either skilled player could crawl back from. While there is something very satisfying about setting up a multi-step complex series of events that demolishes the opponent, the feedback we have received and embraced is that a more pitched give and take battle with ongoing strategies that evolve during the game is more satisfying. It also allows for players to compete against more teams without the outcome of the game most likely settled.
Simply put, HeroClix is less fun when one player deals 6 damage (3 printed, +3 from other effects) and eliminates more than half of their opponent’s biggest dial (11 Clix of health maximum on a standard dial). If they’ve eliminated opposing damage reducers or evaders, this blowout feeling is only more severe. The reality is also that the average point value of HeroClix figures being played in high level play has gone down in recent years, so that unusually large amounts of damage are even more devastating – few characters and therefore teams can make a comeback from a 6 damage hit. This was a frequently requested change from invested skilled players since it helps keep value in their already strong characters and encourages multi-turn tactical plays where they’re responding to their opponent’s attacks and actions instead of trying to outrace them to a one-hit KO. To look back at earlier changes in this vein we’d reference the 2017 Rules Change to remove Ultra Heavy Objects from the game.
Perplex is also a wildcard of sorts – as we determined, it was probably too much of a wildcard. Plenty of abilities would be easily categorized if in a video game or board game. If a power boosted attack or defense you might think of it as consistency since your attack rolls are more likely to hit, or your opponent’s would be less. If a power boosted speed or range you might describe it as utility. However, boosting damage is many of these things at once and hard to call anything but potency. Your figures hit harder, and in many ways that strong offense is a good defense too. There’s also very little risk involved in utilizing Perplex – at least if I’m utilizing Empower or Enhancement to boost damage I’m opening myself up to an opposing Quake, Pulse Wave, or Energy Explosion. Most Perplexers will be able to do so from a safe distance when they’d like to.
Enhancement and Empower will also become more desirable as the ability to increase damage in an environment with fewer opportunities to do so.
This article quickly became much detailed than we initially expected, but we hope you enjoyed the insight into why we made these changes. We suspect that this might shake up some teams, but we hope ultimately it will reveal more options to play beloved teams in a dynamic play environment.
Join us next time for some insights into the changes we’ve made to Themed Teams!
To see everything we’ve revealed so far for the 2021 rules update and Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary, check here.