2013 Rule Book Review: New Ideas

Published on May 14th, 2013

Greetings HeroClix Fans!

With the release of a new rule book, many of you will be scouring the pages searching for changes and tweaks.  Well, we figured we’d save you a little time and talk about three of those changes.  Below you will find three brand new terms to the HeroClix lexicon: Direct line of fire, direct line, and area of effect.

All of these ideas have been with HeroClix for some time; we just never had a specific name for the concepts before this rulebook.  All three terms are meant to take large ideas and present them as a small phrase in powers and abilities, thereby allowing us to succinctly convey information that we use with some regularity.  Also, these new terms are meant to provide a framework so that larger, more complicated ideas can be conveyed without a whole lot of extra text.

Direct line of fire

Up first, from page 6 of the 2013 rulebook, we have the following:

When a line of fire remains in the same row, same column, or crosses an intersection in the square of the target it is said to be a “direct line of fire.”

This is pretty straight forward.  In fact, you might even be wondering why we need such a term.  Well, you might notice that we can now say “same row, same column, or crosses an intersection in the square of the target” as just “direct line of fire”.  We can now cram a whole lot of information into one simple phrase.  This doesn’t have a whole lot of immediate impact, but be on the lookout for “direct line of fire” to appear in future special powers and abilities.

The one part of this power that might have folks wondering is how it described a line of fire that “crosses an intersection in the square of the target”. We wanted an effect that would cover a line of fire in the same row, column, or “45 degree diagonal”. When we started with “a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of fire,” we quickly moved off of that because, all lines of fire that aren’t horizontal or vertical are going to be diagonal, even if it is not that “perfect 45 degree angle”. So we used this language to give players a definition that used existing game terms (square, intersection) to get us there.

Direct line

Next we have, from page 9 of the 2013 rulebook, a term that is very similar to direct line of fire:

When a character moves in the same direction– horizontally, vertically, or diagonally– without altering the direction within the movement, it is said to be moving in a direct line. A character moving in a direct line might move as little as one square.

Some of you might recognize that there are few special powers and abilities out there that already use some very similar wording.  For example, The new Rhino (Marvel HeroClix: Amazing Spider-Man #020) has a special power called Head Down, Horn Up:

Head Down, Horn Up: Rhino can use Charge. When he does, he automatically breaks away and if he moves only in a straight horizontal, vertical, or diagonal path and hits a character along that path, roll a d6; increase Rhino’s damage value by half the result.

Like “direct line of fire”, using “direct line” would have not only made this special power more succinct, but we now have in the definition of direct line a little nugget of information that (until now) was not so clearly spelled out.  For emphasis:

When a character moves in the same direction– horizontally, vertically, or diagonally– without altering the direction within the movement, it is said to be moving in a direct line. A character moving in a direct line might move as little as one square.

In the past, many have asked if a character like Rhino could scoot back and forth in the same row (or column, or whatever).  The answer was always, “no, that won’t work,” but now it has been spelled out in black and white here: your character must move in the same direction, not back and forth, when a direct line is called for.

It also clarifies that to move in a direct line requires that your character moves at least 1 square. The normal rules for movement do allow you to move a character 0 squares and it is still considered “moving.” But with a direct line, you need move at least 1 square.

In addition to simplifying and clearing up some special powers and abilities, direct line has also appeared other places where appropriate.  For example, from page 11 of the 2013 rulebook:

If the knock back path is not along a direct line, then the knock back path follows the diagonal line starting with the square that is on the opposite side of the target from the attacker, in both the vertical as well as horizontal direction.

Knock back itself hasn’t really changed, it still works the same way it did in the 2012 rules, but the term “direct line” once again shortens and clarifies the old wording.

Area of Effect

This next entry may seem like a whole new concept, but the idea of having a power or attack affect more than just a single target character has been around for a long time. From page 18 of the 2013 rulebook:

Some powers and abilities use the term “area of effect.” An area of effect allows a power or game effect to target more than one character. Characters within the area of an effect are affected even though they may not be within the character’s range or line of fire. When it includes an attack, only one attack roll is made and the Attack Total is compared to each target character as well as any other characters specified by the area of effect. When a character is attacked exclusively as a result of being in an area of effect, it is not considered a target of the attack and it may be friendly to the attacking character. The game effect including an area of effect will define how damage is dealt to hit characters and may specify targeted characters’ damage differently from other hit characters. When a power or ability uses a ranged combat attack with an area of effect, if the game effect describes target characters, then the attacking character may multi-target normally, possibly creating multiple areas of effect.

So there is a fair amount of stuff happening in that paragraph, so let’s break it down.

An area of effect allows a power or game effect to target more than one character.  First it tells us that an Area of Effect (or AoE) exists to that a power might allow for there to be other characters affected by it.

Characters within the area of an effect are affected even though they may not be within the character’s range or line of fire. Next, it explains that a character can be within an AoE even if, normally, it’s not someone that can be targeted.

When it includes an attack, only one attack roll is made and the Attack Total is compared to each target character as well as any other characters specified by the area of effect. This is a general sentence that basically says “if you’re attacking and using an AoE to hit multiple characters, you only make one attack roll.”

When a character is attacked exclusively as a result of being in an area of effect, it is not considered a target of the attack and it may be friendly to the attacking character. This is the double-edged sword of AoE attacks. By default, they include friendly characters as characters that may be affected by it. This in itself isn’t really a new concept to HeroClix and the first 2 powers with using Area of Effect – Energy Explosion and Pulse Wave – have been potentially damaging friendly characters for a while now.

The game effect including an area of effect will define how damage is dealt to hit characters and may specify targeted characters’ damage differently from other hit characters. The key in this sentence is the fact that we start to see the kind of language AoE game effects will use, specifically things like “targeted characters” and “other hit characters”. There is no overlap with an AoE. You are either being targeted OR you are “other character”.

When a power or ability uses a ranged combat attack with an area of effect, if the game effect describes target characters, then the attacking character may multi-target normally, possibly creating multiple areas of effect. And here is the true power of AoE effects. Characters with the ability to multi-target can still do so with AoE attacks, provided that there’s a ranged attack going on and the character is targeting opposing characters.

In a nutshell, we were looking for a way to easily describe any kind of effect (whether it was some kind of an attack or not) that would cover more than one square. By using this term, now, we can do this easily and make it more clear how damage is dealt to targets and “other characters.” For an example of how this would work, please take a look at our article earlier in this series that focused on Energy Explosion.

Summary

This wraps up our series of rules articles to walk through the 2013 Rule Book and Powers and Abilities Card. We hope you’ve both enjoyed  and learned from it.

Now I can’t promise you that there might not also be a couple little tweaks here and there to the rule book, but these series hopefully covered all the big changes. If you have any more questions about these new terms or anything else in the rules, send an e-mail to HeroClixRules@gmail.com or hit the Rules Deputies up on the forums!

 

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