The focus of most of the recent Design Insight articles has been to inform players about changes/updates to rules or game mechanics. Today’s article, however, is to introduce a brand new mechanic: Optional Traits.
While Optional Traits may be technically a new mechanic, it combines two long-standing and recognizable HeroClix concepts — traits and add-on effects. Traits (indicated by the Trait star) grant powers/abilities to characters that are not linked to specific clicks on the character’s dial; instead, they are available to the character throughout their dial. Add-on effects are any game effect that a player would assign to characters on their force by paying additional points when building their team. Some examples of add-on effects throughout the history of HeroClix include Feats, Additional Team Abilities, and any equipment/equippable game elements that would be assigned during force construction (such as the Entities and Construct attachments from DC Comics HeroClix: War of Light).
Optional Traits are traits that will only be in effect for a character if the player paid the additional cost as indicated on the character’s card next to the Optional Trait. Optional Traits are indicated by the Trait star symbol with a black background (instead of the white background on standard Traits). An example of an Optional Trait and the Optional Trait indicator can be seen on the recently previewed Marvel HeroClix: The Uncanny X-Men 005a Emma Frost:
Emma Frost’s base point cost is 80 points — however, with this Optional Trait, players may pay 85 points for Emma Frost when building their force to be able to add the 005b Emma Frost Prime to their sideline and be able to benefit from the additional effect of the Optional Trait.
Why Optional Traits? At times, when we are designing dials for characters, we have ideas for game effects that may be compelling but situational. In the case of Emma Frost, her Optional Trait is predicated upon the player not only having 005b Emma Frost but also NOT having any other Prime figure on their force (as you would not be able to add another Prime to your force — even on the sideline). So, rather than designing Emma Frost at 85 points with a standard Trait and having the answer be “Too bad, so sad” if the player did not happen to have 005b Emma Frost, we thought it would be better to make this an optional effect. This way, players don’t feel as if there are wasted points in her cost for a game effect that they are not able to utilize.
A trait requiring a certain replacement figure is, of course, just one example of why we might implement an Optional Trait. Others may include game effects predicated on sharing keywords with other figures on your force/having another specific named figure on your force; or for game effects that work better on larger teams or higher-point/multi-player games. Another possible implementation is to tie a group of figures together thematically through a shared Optional Trait — similar in fashion and function to Additional Team Abilities printed on character cards.
Keep an eye out for other Optional Traits on figures in upcoming HeroClix sets — until then, double check your math!