H For Hours of Play: HeroClix Reviewed page 1
falls over Gotham City.
the Natural History museum, two members of Gotham's finest
crouch tensely behind a suspiciously familiar green dinosaur.
On a terrace just above them, two identically red and
green clad youths stand ready with their staffs, and if they
were smart, they brought a medic with them from the government
neither lad can stand up to much punishment, one looks ready
to fold like a house of cards. Clearly, it will only take
two or three blows before he has to retreat.
then, a fiery figure soars over the giant lizard. As he lifts
his flaming staff to strike at the hapless police, two giant
dice tumble across the hall.
a minute - isn't that fiery figure a herald of Galactus? He's
in the completely wrong universe. Never mind the giant dice…
to HeroClix, the hot game from WizKids. After launching figure-based
games like Mage Knight and Mechwarrior, the Washington-based
company set their sites on such stuff as fanboy dreams are
made on: superheroes. Not thinly disguised variations on the
characters you love, either. They got the big guns.
released in May of last year with the Marvel Comics: Infinity
Challenge set, the game quickly caught the attention of fanboys
from a variety of directions. Combining the strategy of collectible
card games, the imagination of role-playing games, encyclopedic
knowledge of comic books and of course, the out and out coolness
of having little action figures, HeroClix deserves the attention.
Origin; forget The Truth. For our money, HeroClix
is the product that most rocked our world in 2002. It's fun
to both play and display.
it, of course, has hit tremendous secondary market speculation.
Normally, we're against such things (because we can't afford
them), but somehow it takes the sting out of buying a booster
pack if you end up with a valuable rare figure.
apparent from looking at the box how much fun this game is,
we would have bought a heck of a lot of booster packs when
we first met the folks from WizKids at the San Diego Comic-Con.
As it was, we stared uncomprehendingly at the boxes and the
convention-goers massed around gaming tables.
with a $4 price tag for something called a "veteran Plastic
Man," we chose to follow the siren call of nude models signing
nearby. (Except for Mish'al - he wanted to join some sort
of imperial stormtrooper union. And no, we don't have pictures.
That he knows about. Shhhh.)
returning to Northern California, the staff soon realized
its mistake. Even me, who had long equated role-playing games
with being home on prom night with only an elf for company,
got sucked in. I had successfully avoided D&D; Magic: The
Gathering held no charms. But throw in action figures? Why
not? My wife won't wear the elf ears anyway.
me a while to get this piece together because every time I
thought I had a handle on the game, I found some new variation
that I had to try. Within weeks a humble starter kit had grown
to a large box of jumbled figures. A Sentinel lurked nearby.
And then came the outdoor adventure kit.
boasts that HeroClix takes just a few minutes to learn. That
may be true, but those few minutes don't quite cover how to
win it. The game is deceptively simple, and those without
much gaming experience (i.e., me) may at first find themselves
feigning merriment to their brethren. And then they get their
the patented WizKids combat dial, players keep track of characters'
speed, attack ability, defense, and possible damage to inflict.
Every time a character suffers damage of his own, he takes
a click (hence the name of the game) that reduces his strengths
the game refers to it as "three k.o.'s," but some of us are
WizKids makes it fairly easy to have notes nearby. Every bit
of paperwork is downloadable from their site,
though every starter set also includes the same set of rules
and a chart that defines special individual abilities (marked
by colors over the numbers on the combat dial) and team abilities.
Marvel and DC sets have affiliations that closely resemble
the way the characters might be used in comic book continuity.
Often it's tied in to the level of experience your figure
might have, rookie, expert, or veteran, defined by a colored
band on its base.
a rookie Superman figure pretty much flies solo, but later
on in his career Supes gathered some allies. An expert Superman
then finds himself part of "Team Superman," and finally the
veteran figure is akin to the character we know today, a cornerstone
of the JLA. And no, the rookie Superman does not look like
John Byrne drew him.
you know which Man of Tomorrow to use? The combat dials also
have a point value after the character's name. Games are organized
in multiples of 100 points, and so you have to assemble a
team whose sum is less than whatever number players have agreed
tournament play defaults at 200, but you can go to 300, 400,
even 1,000. For every hundred points you can make one move
on your turn, so beware 1,000. That means ten moves. Out of
pity, WizKids has also put a time limit of fifty minutes on
the game, so with ten moves a turn, that could add up to just
two or three turns per player.
you play the Fanboy Planet way, which tends to be just a bloody
chaotic free-for-all mess, in which the game only ends with
your map littered with little plastic corpses, or another
player sitting in a corner alternately sobbing and humming.
and dice rolls determine if your attacks (and some of your
defenses) are successful. It will become clearer once the
game sucks you in.
also note that the rules imply that the two universes should
not meet, but we all know that one's out the window in private
games. Tournaments, however, apparently respect the corporate
licensors, and until WizKids introduces an Access figure,
you may have to keep them separate.