Hey HeroClix Masterminds! We’ve tried to walk through the process from beginning to end on some of the other changes to the rules and PAC we’ve described in preparing players for the changes that are coming in the 2021 HeroClix Rules Update, but for this one it’s simplest to start at the end: we’re eliminating the differences between Named and Generic Themed Teams.

For players who enjoy creating their own teams of Cosmic or Animal themed heroes we suspect this will be a big win. For players who prefer named themed teams – stay tuned because these changes represent a buff to ALL themed teams.

Keywords are part of the connective tissue from set to set in HeroClix. We talked about reusing mechanics from set to set in a recent Design Insight article, and this change is in keeping true to that.

Initiative Bonus

Before the changes, the Initiative Bonus between generic and named themed teams was the same. The change here is actually that we’re placing a cap on Initiative Bonuses. Players can play big teams with low point characters with the goal of controlling the map. We wanted to find the balance between players wanting to play teams larger than their opponents, and players having almost no chance to control the map if they have a smaller team.

  • The maximum bonus a player may get to their roll from the Initiative Bonus is +3 more than their opponent.

If choosing map is important to your team, you’ll still get an advantage. However, that advantage will be slightly less than rolling an extra die, NOT greater than rolling 2 extra dice like some of the +13 Scientist and Cosmic teams we’ve seen.

In particular, we want to set the stage for players who enjoy playing smaller teams (1-5 characters) to have a chance of winning the map roll against huge squads (8+ characters). There are already inherent disadvantages to playing fewer characters, we didn’t want the rules surrounding maps to compound that.

Themed Team Probability Control

The changes to Themed Team Probability Control (TTPC) came in steps. First we kept chipping away trying to streamline it. Then it became more powerful. Then we lowered the frequency. Finally, we made it available to all themed teams.

  • The character using it [TTPC] must have the chosen keyword.

This rule helped keep TTPC balanced, but doesn’t impact most teams, ESPECIALLY at the casual level. Typically it would be characters brought in from the Sideline or Bystanders that would be unable to use TTPC because of this rule. With ID cards out of rotation and characters coming in from the Sideline at a low frequency overall, this wasn’t something that balance demanded.

  • The character using it can’t target itself.
  • The character using it must have 0 or 1 action tokens, and is immediately given an action token.

These rules exist (and are related to one another) because of the timing of the action token on TTPC. For that matter – TTPC requiring an action token was a little wonky too, since it wasn’t as simple as POWER: Probability Control. Technically, if we weren’t careful, the character using TTPC could take an action like Charge, target their own attack with TTPC, and get their 2nd token before the end of the action (where they’d try to receive their 3rd but be unable to). We could’ve done some rules surgery to allow a character with 0 action tokens to use it on their own attacks, but that’s just a different rule that adds some flexibility. Furthermore, to actually take advantage of your 5 instances of TTPC in a game, you were likely to need many more than 5 characters to have the action token bandwidth and positioning needed. So trying to streamline this rule actually led to two changes – one was that TTPC would no longer place an action token, the other was that the character could simply target itself. Simply put, we wanted characters to be able to use Probability Control up to X times per game, where X was the number of characters on their Themed Team, up to a certain number (previously – 5).

Since we increased the strength of TTPC, we reduced the frequency down to 3.

  • The number associated with the bonus will match that of the Initiative Bonus
  • The overall number of rerolls from TTPC will be reduced
    • Losing players getting “lucky” are more likely to have their rolls stick to make a comeback
    • Veterans maintain the advantage of knowing when to save their TTPC rolls vs when to use them (for example – selecting to take the damage and go from Click 1 to Click 3, because you know you have the same Standard Powers)
  • Making TTPC more similar to regular Probability Control will make Theme Team Probability Control rule easier for players to remember to use
    • We’ve found that players who haven’t yet mastered their team tend to focus on their traits and powers, sometimes overlooking things like TTPC and Team Abilities
    • Knowing when to use TTPC versus taking the hit will still distinguish good from great players

Overall, we’re also making a conscious decision that TTPC should be the better benefit from having a themed team. Wonder Woman and the Amazons choosing where the battle takes place is a little less fun and flavorful than imagining them fighting together more efficiently than with characters they have uneasy alliances with. It’s better that you get this bonus even if your opponent wins the map roll or has a larger team. Also, with this change we effectively move from a three-tier system (named, generic, and no themed team) to a two-tier system (themed or unthemed).

The Smallest Themed Team

With the rules changes, even a single character can now be a Themed Team. No one needs to remember what the minimum number of characters is for a Themed Team this way, and one-man-army teams get a small boost in their power level.

So What’s the Difference Between Generic and Named Keywords?

Simply put – there’s less of a difference among themed teams, but across the entire design of HeroClix you’ll be seeing different teams have a different feel from one another. On recent and upcoming designs you’ve probably seen characters that give big bonuses to characters sharing their keyword(s). The rules underpinning Themed Teams didn’t need to further drive their advantage. As it is, Legion of Doom and Justice League feel very different from one another when you put them on the table. The same would be true if you compared Justice League to Robot Themed Teams. Robot might be one of the most synergistic generic keywords, and it still pales in comparison to some of the most prolific comic teams.

Text as it appears in the rulebook for Themed Teams

Themed Teams

After revealing your force, if all of the characters on your Starting Force share at least one keyword you can pick that keyword as your Themed Team. If all of the characters on your Starting Force share more than one keyword, pick only one. Keywords are listed below a character’s name on their card, separated by commas.

Initiative Bonus

When deciding who will go first, each player with a Themed Team adds the number of characters with their chosen keyword to their 2d6 roll to determine who will go first. The maximum bonus a player may get to their roll from the Initiative Bonus is +3 more than their opponent.

For example, you have a Theme Team with three characters. You roll [3][3], for a total of nine. Your opponent does not have a Theme Team, so would need to roll a ten to go first.

Themed Team Probability Control

Probability Control is a standard power:

Probability Control: Once per turn, you may reroll a target character’s attack roll or break away roll. A targeted character must be within range and line of fire, minimum range value 6.

Characters on a themed team can use Probability Control up to X total times per game for that force. X is equal to the number of characters with the chosen keyword on that starting force, up to a maximum of 3.

Upcoming designs are likely to be different from what’s come before based on this rules change.

In fact, we’re providing errata to 3 figures in order to have them match the new TTPC rules effective as of the release of Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary.

First is Yelena Belova 010 from the Black Widow movie set:

Old text: ESPIONAGE: DEFENDING THE WIDOWS: If Yelena Belova is on a themed team, your maximum number of Themed Team Probability Control uses this game is 10 (instead of 5).

New text: ESPIONAGE: DEFENDING THE WIDOWS: If Yelena Belova is on a themed team, your maximum number of Themed Team Probability Control uses this game is 6 (instead of 3).

Next is Captain Venom 062 from Earth X:

Old text: EDDIE, YOU’RE JUST THE MAN WE NEED: During game setup when establishing themed teams, you may treat the Monster keyword as a named keyword.

New text: EDDIE, YOU’RE JUST THE MAN WE NEED: If Captain Venom is on a Monster themed team, your maximum number of Themed Team Probability Control uses this game is 6 (instead of 3).

And finally, High Evolutionary 059b from Fantastic Four Future Foundation:

Old text: CREATOR OF THE ANI-MEN: When establishing themed teams, you may treat Animal as a named keyword.

New text: CREATOR OF THE ANI-MEN: If High Evolutionary is on an Animal themed team, your maximum number of Themed Team Probability Control uses this game is 6 (instead of 3).

If there are old designs that you’d love to see given the upcoming Themed Team Rules we’d like to hear from you. Let us know which teams you’re more excited to try out than you would have been before these changes. E-mail us at gamefeedback@wizkids.com. We probably can’t reply to every email but we do our best to give each of the messages we receive on this topic thoughtful consideration.

Until next time Masterminds, keep on Clixin!

To see everything we’ve revealed so far for the 2021 rules update and Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary, check here.