Defense Defense Defense

Published on October 4th, 2012

Greetings Heroclix fans!

For today’s Rules Review article, we are going to take a look at the various defensive powers in HeroClix, and when each of them activates during an attack. To illustrate, I am going to use two characters that faced off in the final game of this year’s World Championship: Morgan Le Fay from the Chaos War set and Black Adam from the Superman set (200 point version), each equipped with the Infinity Gauntlet resource dial with all Gems attached.

Wow – there’s a lot going on even without adding the craziness of the Infinity Gauntlet! For our example, we’re going to say that both characters are on their starting click, though each character’s Gauntlet is on a different click. Let’s look at all the powers and abilities that are going to be involved in Black Adam’s opening attack: Morgan Le Fay has a lot going on:

  1. During her last turn, the Astral Form Fade special power allowed her to choose Combat Reflexes (because why would she choose Energy Shield/Deflection when facing a 0 range character like Black Adam).
  2. She has Shape Change as her damage power.
  3. Earlier in the game, she used her Minions of Doom wildcard team ability to copy her teammate Scarlet Witch’s Mystics team ability.
  4. Her Infinity Gauntlet it on click 6, which lets her use Super Senses.

Meanwhile, Black Adam’s Infinity Gauntlet is on click 4, which gives him 2 important gems:

  1. Reality Gem, allowing him to use Probability Control.
  2. Soul Gem, allowing him to use Steal Energy.

Everyone with me so far? Good, then it’s time to get to the action! Black Adam wants to attack Morgan Le Fay, so he declares a close combat action and prepares to do a close combat attack. The sequence of events the unfolds like this:


1. Shape Change: As soon as Morgan Le Fay is picked as the target of the attack, Shape Change activates. If the Shape Change roll succeeds, Black Adam must pick a different target for his attack – if he cannot, the action ends without an attack. Keep in mind that since the attack has been declared, Black Adam cannot move to another square before making the attack – he needs to make the attack where he stands. Another thing to keep in mind is that Shape Change protects Morgan Le Fay from Black Adam for the rest of the turn – if Black Adam could use Flurry and Morgan Le Fay made a successful Shape Change against the first attack Black Adam would not be able to target her with the second attack.

2. The attack roll. With Shape Change out of the way, Black Adam can proceed to the attack roll. It may be a bit tricky for him to hit since Morgan Le Fay gets a defensive bonus from Combat Reflexes, but at least Black Adam can use Probability Control through the Reality Gem to give him a second chance to hit. “But wait a minute” some readers may now ask, “couldn’t you have used Probability Control to reroll the Shape Change roll?”. And to that, the answer is “not in this scenario.”

Probability Control lets you reroll your dice rolls on your turn and your opponent’s rolls on your opponent’s turn. In this case, it is Black Adam‘s turn, but Morgan Le Fay is the one rolling Shape Change, so Probability Control cannot be used. Had Black Adam been able to attack during Morgan Le Fay‘s turn somehow (say if he was teamed up with Big Figure from the Watchmen set), then it would be possible to reroll the Shape Change roll though in that scenario, he would then not be able to reroll his own attack!


3. Super Senses: If Black Adam manages to successfully hit Morgan Le Fay, she gets one more chance to evade the attack by using Super Senses. Should she make a successful Super Senses roll, the attack is a miss. This can be quite important when making a ranged attack against multiple targets, as you distribute the damage between targets successfully hit – Super Senses is rolled before damage is distributed, and no damage can be dealt to a target that evaded the attack.

4. Dealing damage. Since Black Adam managed to get through Morgan Le Fay‘s defenses, it is now time to deal damage. To make things interesting, let’s say Black Adam was carrying a heavy object and managed to roll a critical hit – bad news for Morgan Le Fay, but at least she still has Toughness to protect her somewhat. Black Adam has a damage value of 5 and modifies this by +2 for the heavy object he was carrying, so his modified damage value is 7. This is the damage dealt to Morgan, which can then be further modified – in this case, damage dealt is increased by 1 for the critical hit and then decreased by 1 for Morgan Le Fay‘s Toughness, so the net change is 0. As the attack resolves, Morgan Le Fay takes 7 damage, putting her on her last click!

5. Steal Energy and Mystics

 In this scenario, there are two other effects that activate once damage has been dealt: Morgan Le Fay is using the Mystics team ability she copied from her teammate Scarlet Witch, and Black Adam can use Steal Energy thanks to the Soul Gem.

MYSTICS – When a character using the Mystics team ability takes damage from an attack, the attacker is dealt 1 unavoidable damage. This damage is not an attack.

Since both these effects activate at the same time (when Morgan Le Fay takes damage from Black Adam’s attack), the active player gets to choose the order of resolution. In other words, Black Adam gets to decide if he wants to heal or take damage first. Since he is on his first click, he’ll likely want to take the damage first and then heal to get back to where he started. A character who may be further down his dial may want to reverse that, heal first so that here is no risk of being KO’d by the damage from Mystics. Another thing to note is that if Morgan Le Fay had been able to use Mastermind (say if her Infinity Gauntlet was on click 3 instead of click 6), she would need to transfer the damage before it was dealt to her – in that case the figure she transferred the damage to would take a whopping 8 clicks of damage (Black Adam would still add the critical hit bonus to the damage dealt, but Morgan Le Fay would not get to decrease the damage dealt with Toughness). Another subtle difference is the Impervious power.

While functionally this is similar to both Shape Change and Super Senses, the effects of the three powers are very different: Shape Change prevents an attack from being made, Super Senses makes a hit into a miss, and Impervious reduces damage dealt to 0. Keep in mind that when you use Impervious, it only reduces the damage – any other effects of the attack still happens! For example, if Morgan Le Fay’s teammate Wasp attacked Black Adam with her Bio-Electric Blasts, Black Adam would be given an action token and be dealt penetrating damage regardless of the result of his Impervious roll!

6. Applying knock back.

Since Black Adam rolled a critical hit, Morgan Le Fay will be knocked back from him equal to the damage taken – she is tossed 7 squares away by the sheer force of Black Adam‘s attack!

Keep in mind that if the attack roll had not been doubles, Morgan Le Fay could still choose to be knocked back thanks to her Combat Reflexes – however, she does not have the option to not be knocked back. Combat Reflexeslets you get knocked back more, not less. Being knocked back is a little tricky timing wise:

  1. As soon as doubles are rolled, the attack generates knock back.
  2. The damage dealt is calculated, and this determines how far the knocked back character goes.
  3. The damage is dealt.
  4. The character is moved because of knock back.
  5. If the knock back causes any damage, it is dealt now.

Let’s say it was Morgan Le Fay who attacked Black Adam instead and managed to deal 1 damage to him when he was on his top click, and the attack roll was doubles. Since Black Adam can use Charge on his starting click (as part of his Hell is here! Special power) he would not be knocked back, even though he would end up on a click without Charge. On the other hand, if Morgan Le Fay managed to damage Black Adam so that he went from a click with Hypersonic Speed to a click with Charge he would be knocked back as he had no immunity to being knocked back when the attack was made. Back to the topic at hand, Morgan Le Fay is knocked back 7 squares. Since she is on her last click, she’d better hope there is nothing that might block her path and deal additional damage as her only defense power at this point is Regeneration. If she slams into a wall, blocking terrain, or the edge of elevated terrain she will be dealt another click of damage and be KO’d! Since she no longer can use Combat Reflexes or Toughness, she has no protection against knock back damage. Knock back damage is not from an attack, so it won’t activate the Mystics team ability. On the other hand, since Black Adam’s attack was the reason Morgan was knocked back and dealt damage, her KO from knock back damage will activate the secondary effect of the Soul Gem to heal Black Adam again!

7. Dealing pushing damage. As Black Adam’s close combat action resolves, pushing damage is applied. This may not apply to Black Adam or Morgan Le Fay since they can both use Willpower through the Infinity Gauntlet, but let’s say that Morgan Le Fay’s teammate Wasp got a second action token by using theme team Probability Control to reroll Black Adam’s attack. The token was applied immediately, but the pushing damage is not applied until the attack resolves, so Wasp’s dial does not change during the attack itself. It is also worth noting that this is when a character needs to be able to ignore pushing damage – I once lost a game because a critical miss caused my character to lose Willpower before the attack concluded, then took another click of pushing damage!   Once the attack has resolved, the action is over!

It’s certainly not looking good for Morgan, but she may be able to mount a comeback – a good Regeneration roll could certainly bring her back into the game after all that bad luck. For now I think we have covered everything about the timing of defensive powers though, so we’ll leave Morgan Le Fay and Black Adam to settle their differences on their own.  

– Rules Representative: Hans “Quebbster” Josefson

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