2013 Golden Age World Champion Jake Williams Interview!

Published on November 13th, 2014

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Greetings HeroClix Fans!

With the release of DC Comics HeroClix: The Flash, we spoke with Jake Williams, 2013 Golden Age World Champion, about his experience and his Harley Quinn figure. Check out his in-depth interview here:

What was it like to win the Golden Age World Championship in 2013?

It was amazing.  When I went to Gencon in 2013 I knew that I had some good teams built but I wasn’t sure where they would stack up against the other players. Once the tournament started I kept winning games and made it into the finals.

At one point, when they got to the top 8, they asked us all to write which character we would like to design if we won. Of course, I wrote down Harley Quinn.  That was the first time that I thought, “wow, I could really win this thing.”

I remember, after I won, being in almost a sort of daze.  I had so many people coming up to me and congratulating me and I don’t remember a lot of it.  It didn’t really hit me until a few hours later when I was having a celebratory piece of cake after dinner.

Did you enjoy the competition?

There are so many great players playing HeroClix.  I love being able to sit down with the best players in the world and see how their play styles compare to mine. There aren’t any other events, outside of Worlds, that have this level of competition.  With WizKids extending the tournament scene and more players starting to make it out to the big events, I’m really excited to not only see more competitors, but also see the level of competition keep rising.

What first brought you to the world of HeroClix?

I used to be a big toy collector.  A lot of the companies that I used to follow had exclusives at the 2004 SDCC.  I talked a few of my friends into going down with me.  Once we got there, all anyone could talk about was this big Galactus figure that was for sale.  I put my name in a drawing to be able to purchase one and was selected.  Once I got back home and realized that it was a game, I started to look into it a bit more.  When I realized that it was a turn based strategy game that I could play with people in person, I started to really get into it.

How long have you been playing HeroClix?

2005’ish?  Right around the time Legacy released.  After I got the Galactus, I slowly started buying boosters and eventually got the courage to look up a venue online and show up for a tournament.

How often do you play, and where do you play HeroClix?

I play anywhere from 1 – 3 times a week.  I usually try and make it to every sealed tournament that I can, because that’s my favorite format.  I love building teams and using figures that you may not have thought to use otherwise.  Some of the local game stores that I play at are Dr Volts Comics (Salt Lake City UT), HaJoMaJe Comics (Kaysville, UT), and Game Den (West Valley City, UT).

What is your favorite thing about HeroClix?

I like the strategy and team building aspects the most.  Back when I first started, you were really limited in what you could do and the teams that you could come up with.  Now that there are so many options, with the amount of game elements, you could play a different team and combo every time you play and never run out of figures or ideas to try.

So, we know you’re probably eager to talk about your 2013 Championship figure.  With all of the characters available out there, what finally nudged you towards Harley Quinn?

About a month before GenCon, I was kicking around a “for fun” Harley Quinn dial that I would have liked to have seen. I was in a daze when the judges came around and asked all of us to write, at the top of our army sheet, who we would make if we won the tournament.

After winning the final match against George Massu, I was still in a bit of shock. It wasn’t until the next day when I was talking with one of the WizKids staff that I could grasp, “I did it. I am actually going to get to design a figure.”

Most players that have been playing this game for a while have likely thought about that one figure that they would make if they won a World Championship, winning a chance to design a version of their favorite character. The “which character would you design?” threads pop up quite often and get a lot of responses with some amazing ideas and dial designs. While I had played around with a few ideas in the dial generator, as I’m sure a lot of others have, I hadn’t really counted on actually getting the chance to design a figure.

Harley Quinn has become one of the most famous comic book characters the past couple of years.  I had known of the character before, but I really became a big fan of Harley once I got to see the character in the Batman video games.  Something about a crazy character that falls in love with an even crazier character intrigued me.

What were the challenges or considerations you faced while conceptualizing such a high-profile figure?

The biggest thing that I wanted to achieve was to design a figure that comic fans and non-comic fans would recognize and play. I also wanted to design a figure that was a fair representation of how she is portrayed in the comics.

Why Harley Quinn? I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up being exposed to comics like a lot of other players were. It wasn’t until after I started playing HeroClix that I got to start learning about the characters outside of the big names, such as Batman or Spiderman. Once I started to get exposed to the world of comic characters, I started to take a big interest in the Batman lore. Not so much Batman but more the Batman villains. After reading a few of the Batman trade paperbacks, Joker became my favorite villain. He was a villain that didn’t have super powers outside of him being, well… crazy. Once I found out about Harley Quinn falling for this crazy guy, I took an interest in her. When I played the Batman Arkham games I really saw how devoted the character was to the Joker, and that left a huge impression.

I didn’t know that between when I won Worlds and now, she would not only get her own title but also become the 3rd best-selling comic for DC. I knew she had a fan base but I didn’t realize how popular of a character she had become. I once read a thread on HCRealms where someone said that when they taught new players, more often than not, they would grab a Harley Quinn when building their teams but she never really did a lot for them. I wanted to change that. I wanted to see if I could do the character justice.

My favorite part of Harley Quinn is still her devotion and willingness to help out the Joker. That was something that I really wanted to try and demonstrate in a dial and I think it’s a mechanic that was fun to come up with ideas for.  I also wanted her to be very playable so that all Clix players, veteran and beginner, can use her effectively.

Now that DC Comics HeroClix: The Flash has released—walk us through your dial design for Harley Quinn.

Harley-quinn-preview

Anyone that has ever talked with me about teams knows that the number one thing I look for is options. I like options. The more options that you can give a character and team, the more situations you can handle and get out of. I also like support type figures. Tentpoles come and go, but figures with support powers show up way more often than tentpoles. Support figures can turn good figures into amazing figures. In looking at teams of the past, figures like Scarlet Witch and Enchantress were quite common on a lot of teams. While I wasn’t trying to recreate those, it gave me a place to start looking at design ideas.

While Harley is an amazing stand-alone character, my favorite stories involve her supporting her Puddin’. When looking at design ideas for Harley, I really wanted to portray that.

My Puddin’ Once per game, choose a friendly character with a higher point value. The chosen character is Harley Quinn’s Puddin’. Harley Quinn can use Perplex and Probability Control, but only to target her Puddin’. When her Puddin’ is KO’d, modify all of Harley Quinn’s combat values by +1.

While I was looking to design a support type of figure that could also hold her own, I needed to find a way that could show how she can help out her Puddin’. Perplex and Prob are two of the most sought after powers in the game. By limiting her to only being able to use them on her Puddin’ we were able to get both of those powers traited and also help keep the cost down.

As mentioned earlier, I learned a lot about the idea of Harley from the Batman Arkham games. The DLC Harley Quinn’s Revenge was one of my favorite parts from those games. The idea and name really stood out to me. Trying to incorporate a type of revenge from Harley, if you do KO her Puddin’ seemed like a really fun idea and gameplay mechanic. I’ve always thought of Harley Quinn is a character that is there as a distraction, to get in the way, agitate and tie you up, so she can help out her Puddin’. When you play against Harley Quinn, do you take out the Joker and have a revenging Harley Quinn to deal with or do you waste actions trying to deal with her first? I can foresee many games where Harley Quinn comes back and potentially wins the game for someone because of the My Puddin’ trait.

Harley Quinn’s character is also known as quite the acrobat, bouncing all over the place. Trying to exemplify that with just improved movement didn’t feel right. However, I also didn’t feel that giving her traited Sidestep with no limits made sense either. I really like compromises in figure designs. Traited Sidestep and Improved Movement is a fun combo that can be very powerful. So to compromise the idea of not being able to use Sidestep when she had an action token seemed almost perfect. It really felt like she could be bouncing around the map while trying to find the time to actually strike. I absolutely loved the feel of it.

After going through quite a bit of old comics, I found that Harley has also used Joker gas on a number of occasions. I like the idea of penetrating poison, but it didn’t feel right to have her poisoning a whole team at once. Being adjacent to only one opposing character for penetrating poison to work was another great compromise. Do you want to try and poison the figures with no reducers or do you want to try to whittle down their big figure one click at a time? Where do you position to do that?

Harley is also someone that should be hard to hit, but not someone that can take a lot of hits. Super Senses and Combat Reflexes make it difficult to target her but if you do hit her, she will go down. We’ve seen these powers used before and they fit her character perfectly.

As far as her other powers, Stealth, Outwit, CCE, and Flurry, she has demonstrated each of them in the comics. There was a time when a “stealthed outwitter” was the best thing you could have on your team and, as a support piece, Harley gives you even more options on how you can play her.

When it came to naming the powers, I spent hours going through episodes of the old Batman: The Animated Series and reading just about every comic that she has ever been in. I wanted to find a mix of her old and new quotes. I’m really proud of how they all turned out.

The last thing that I want to talk about is keywords. One of the biggest complaints that I see when a figure is posted is someone complaining about missed keywords. I really tried to help design a Harley Quinn that had a little bit of all versions of her. I did a lot of research trying to find keywords that I thought would fit. Gotham City Sirens, Arkham Asylum and Gotham City Underworld were all no brainers. But I also wanted to include Suicide Squad, Secret Six, and Scientist, as she does have a PhD, which would give her a lot of intelligent options. This is also why I chose to have her to be a wildcard.

Thank you for chatting with us, Jake— any parting thoughts?

I want to say thank you again to WizKids for this amazing opportunity.  I also want to thank all of my friends that let me bounce ideas off of them. I really do appreciate it.

Almost everyone that has played this game has their “what if” figure that they would like to make if they won.  To be able to actually have the chance was amazing.  I couldn’t be happier with how this whole process went.  Hopefully I will get to do it again one day.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I worked on this figure and design a long time ago and it’s been amazing to finally be able to talk about it. I put quite a bit of time and effort into it. I have had a few people ask me how I will feel when they beat me playing a figure that I designed. Honestly, I can’t think of anything better than that.   If someone else beats me with the figure I designed at a tournament then that means that people out there are actually playing her… and really that’s all that I ever wanted in the first place; to be able to design a figure that people actually played.

jakewilliams

Name: Jake Williams

WES ID: Jeterey

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

How long have you played: Around 10 years

Favorite local venues:

Dr. Volts Comics (Salt Lake City UT)

HaJoMaJe Comics (Kaysville, UT)

Game Den (West Valley City, UT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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