Greetings HeroClix Fans!
Penetrating damage and unavoidable damage. Damage dealt and damage value. Actions and attacks. Movement and placement. If you are new to this wonderful game of little clicky dials, your head is probably awash in various words and phrases that, at first, sound very, VERY similar. Heck, even veteran players are overwhelmed at times. Well, have no fear, Brothers (and Sisters) In Clix! In these Rules Review articles, we will periodically examine these terms and point out the differences and why they matter. To get us started, let’s take a look at two terms that can give the greenest noobs and the most grizzled vets a head ache: Counter and ignore.
Defining Counter and Ignore
Let’s start by saying right away that the words ‘counter’ and ‘ignore’ are two completely different terms in Heroclix. Even though you may use the two more or less interchangeably in everyday conversation, in this game they are distinct and separate in their usage. Here are the definitions for reference:
COUNTER: A game effect that causes another power, ability, or effect to no longer be possessed by a character.
IGNORES: Is not affected by or treats the stated property or effect as if it didn’t exist or happen.
Both of those definitions come from the Glossary at the back of the 2012 Rules. Additionally, counter gets a little more specific in its definition in the main text for the rules (from page 16):
Certain game effects can counter powers or abilities. When a power or ability is countered, the targeted character is treated as if the power no longer appeared in the stat slot or the ability was no longer available through the whatever means the character was able to use the ability.
So what does this all mean? In a nutshell, counter actually makes something go away. If, for example, a power is countered, that power is gone. Vanished. Kaput. You’ve taken an eraser to a character’s dial and scratched out the power. Now if the same power were ignored, the power isn’t gone, the power temporarily (typically, only for the duration of an action) just doesn’t do anything.
What’s that you say? You’d like some specific examples? No problem…
First, let’s look at counter. The classic example of counter is the power Outwit:
During your turn, give this character a free action to counter a power or a combat ability possessed by a single target opposing character until the beginning of your next turn. Any game effects with a duration specified by the countered power or combat ability are removed. A character using this power must be within 10 squares and line of fire to the target.
Outwit can counter a power or combat ability possessed by a character. More on possessing stuff in a moment. For now, let’s say your character that can use Outwit (I’ll pick Bruce Banner, because Bruce is cool) wants to counter an opposing character’s Impervious so that your team can more easily damage that character (I’ll pick Abomination, because Abomination is also cool but doesn’t get along with Bruce).
So if Abomination is on his first click, and Bruce uses Outwit to counter the Impervious, we now pretend that the brown square representing Impervious is gone. Bruce came in with some whiteout and colored over the brown square, leaving on the defense value number. Now let’s say you decide to have Bruce make a ranged combat attack, shooting Abomination.
Since Bruce has a damage value of 1, if he hits Abomination, he’ll deal 1 damage and put Abomination on click 2. Click 2 would normally have a brown square representing Impervious… but since it is still countered, that brown square is also gone, leaving Abomination wide open for a second attack by another character.
Now let’s say Bruce rolled a critical hit when he attacked Abomination and dealt him 2 damage instead of 1 damage. Now Abomination is on click 3 and the brown square has changed into a grey square representing Invulnerability. Bruce has not countered Invulnerability, so that grey square is sitting there, ready to reduce some damage if Abomination is attacked; the Outwit has no effect on this new power.
Fast forward a turn or two, and Abomination is on that 3rd click with that grey square showing on the dial. You decide to use Bruce’s Outwit to counter the Invulnerability and then have Bruce make another ranged combat attack. Bruce’s attack is successful and Abomination is dealt 1 damage, putting him on click 4. Uh-oh… that’s Regeneration on that click! Bruce has already used his Outwit this turn, so we can’t counter that power, but we really don’t want Abomination to use Regeneration and undo all this damage. Luckily, General Thunderbolt Ross is nearby and he has a clear shot on Abomination.
We’ll pretend Ross is on his second click, where he has a damage value of 1. Ross is given a ranged combat action, shoots Abomination, and hits! Nice, Abomination is off click 4 and now on click 5! No more Regeneration… and even better, remember how we had countered the Invulnerability earlier this turn? Well, it is still countered since the turn isn’t over. Even though Abomination was on a click with no grey square for a little while, that grey square is back and since the duration of Bruce’s Outwit hasn’t yet ended, that means Invulnerability is still countered and that grey square is still effectively gone. If you have another character that can attack Abomination this turn, you could deal full damage without worrying about the Invulnerability! How awesome is that (assuming you aren’t the person playing Abomination, of course)?
Moving on, the classic example for ignore is the power Pulse Wave:
Give this character a ranged combat action; it can use and halves its range value until the action has been resolved. Draw lines of fire to all characters within range in every direction, including at least one opposing character. All game effects possessed or used by other characters with a line of fire drawn to them are ignored until the action has been resolved. If ignoring a game effect would cause a character with a line of fire drawn to it to no longer have a line of fire drawn to it, then it is not ignored. If lines of fire can be drawn to two or more characters, this character’s damage value becomes 1 and is locked. Make a single ranged combat attack and compare the attack total to the defense value of all other characters with a line of fire drawn to it; each character hit is dealt damage.
Here we see that, for the duration of the ranged combat action used to activate Pulse Wave, all game effects possessed or used by characters being hit with Pulse Wave are ignored. That doesn’t mean they are countered; the powers, team abilities, and such are still on the characters’ dials. They just don’t do anything for this action.
Let’s say The Leader is out to avenge all the damage Bruce Banner and General Thunderbolt Ross have inflicted upon poor Abomination.
The Leader has taken his share of damage and is currently sitting on click 4, which just so happens to have Pulse Wave. Both Bruce and Ross are within half of The Leader’s range value, so you decide to use that Pulse Wave and try to damage both characters. We’ll say Bruce and Ross are still on the same click numbers we were using before (clicks 1 and 2, respectively). Bruce currently has Toughness on his dial, so he would normally reduce any damage he was dealt by 1, but since The Leader’s Pulse Wave will ignore the Toughness Bruce can’t reduce the damage from this attack. But Toughness is still there on his dial! Once this action is over, if Toughness is still showing on the dial, then Bruce could still use Toughness normally to reduce any future damage. The Leader’s controller makes his attack roll… and it is only a 6! Ross is hit, and is dealt 1 damage, but Bruce is safe! And, just like I said, the Bruce’s Toughness is still there and ready to reduce any other damage that might come his way this turn.
Such Wonderful Words… Is There Nothing They Can’t Do?
We’ve covered what counter and ignore can do. Are there any other questions?
Yes, you over there. No, not you. The other one. You had a question? Hmm… could I give some examples of when counter and ignore don’t work? Sure!
The most common instance of when a game effect can’t be countered or ignored is when the game effect specifically says so. Take the power Earthbound/Neutralize, for example:
This character can’t use combat abilities and possesses , , , instead of its combat symbols. This power can’t be countered or ignored.
If this power were currently showing on a character’s dial, you couldn’t counter it or ignore it. Says so right there at the end.
Other times, maybe a different game effect prevents you from countering or ignoring another game effect. The Power Cosmic team ability is a good example for this one:
Characters using the Power Cosmic team ability can use Willpower and their powers can’t be countered. Uncopyable.
Silver Surfer can use Power Cosmic. Let’s take a peek at his dial:
A character using this team ability can’t have its powers countered. You could ignore that character’s powers (so Pulse Wave is a nice way to take Silver Surfer down a notch), since the description says nothing about ignoring stuff. Also, note that it specifies that powers can’t be countered… well, Outwit can counter combat abilities, like Flight or Carry or Sharpshooter, too. So while you may not be able to counter Silver Surfer’s Hypersonic Speed power, you could counter his Flight ability and now he’ll have to watch out for hindering terrain and changes in elevation as he zips around the map.
Remember earlier when I said we’d talk about possessed powers later? Now’s the time. Much like how counter and ignore have different meanings in Heroclix, there is a difference between a character that possesses a game effect and just using a game effect. A detailed explanation of possess and use can wait for another article, but briefly a power or ability is possessed when it actually appears on a character’s dial while powers or abilities that are just used are frequently provided by special powers. For example, Bruce Banner above possesses both Outwit or his Toughness (the little black and orange squares on his dial), but he only uses Energy Explosion thanks to the special power Bomb Science; he does not possess Energy Explosion, he possesses Bomb Science.
Finally, the Player’s Guide gives some specific do’s and don’ts for game effects that ignore stuff.
- A character which ignores a game effect may still be targeted with that game effect. Any special attributes of that effect will be ignored. For example, a character with the Repulsor Shield feat that is hit with an attack using Ranged Combat Expert would not ignore the attack, it would ignore the +2 damage dealt provided by the Ranged Combat Expert power.
- Game effects which alter the way a figure is KO’d or otherwise defeated cannot be ignored.
- Game effects which have you make a choice at a specific occurrence may be ignored, but if the power is being ignored when the choice would be made, this choice is made immediately after the effect is no longer ignored.
- When a game effect says that a character ignores a power or ability, it only ignores that power or ability on other characters unless otherwise noted.
Number 1 is pretty clear, since an example is given, but 2, 3, and 4 can be a bit trickier, so let’s go over those.
2. Game effects which alter the way a figure is KO’d or otherwise defeated cannot be ignored.
All this means is that if you have an odd dial with no KO slots, like BB #055 Shazam! and Black Adam’s dial, you are told via a trait or other game text how that character is KO’d. In Shazam! and Black Adam’s case, they have a trait that tells you it is after they cross a certain colored line. Normally a power like Pulse Wave would ignore a trait, but if this particular trait is ignored, we’d have no idea how to KO this character. So that trait can’t be ignored. It is worth noting that there are other game effects out there that tell you to do something else instead of KO-ing a character. For example:
The Phoenix Reborn: Once per game, when Phoenix would be KO’d, instead heal her to click number 8.
This trait doesn’t alter the way Phoenix is KO’d; it flat out prevents her from being KO’d at all (once per game). Since it doesn’t alter the way she is KO’d, it can be ignored and you could KO her with a well-timed Pulse Wave.
3. Game effects which have you make a choice at a specific occurrence may be ignored, but if the power is being ignored when the choice would be made, this choice is made immediately after the effect is no longer ignored.
Let’s head straight to the example:
INEVITABLE BETRAYAL: When this click is revealed for the first time in a game, stop turning the dial and choose Dr. Doom or Kang. For the rest of the game, even if this power is lost, this character now possesses and if you chose Dr. Doom, this character can use Outwit, or if you chose Kang, this character can use Probability Control.
Normally, if the character Dr. Doom and Kang takes damage and this click is revealed, you’d be forced to choose either Dr. Doom or Kang. But if they were damaged by a Pulse Wave attack, or something else caused this power to be ignored, they wouldn’t immediately choose. However, you would then have to choose Dr. Doom or Kang as soon as the power is no longer being ignored… even if this power was no longer visible on their dial.
4. When a game effect says that a character ignores a power or ability, it only ignores that power or ability on other characters unless otherwise noted.
This one here means that a character won’t ignore its own powers or abilities unless you are specifically told otherwise. For example:
Lord of the Dark Dimension: Dormammu can use Probability Control. Friendly characters ignore the Mystics Team ability.
So Dormammu and his teammates will ignore Mystics team ability. But Dormammu can use the Mystics Team Ability himself. A person might wonder if this trait means he would ignore his own Team Ability and opposing characters would thus not take any damage if they attack and damage him. But, no, Dormammu does not ignore his own Team Ability; if he is attacked and damaged, the attacker will activate the Mystics Team Ability.
Every now and again, you will hear someone talk about cancelling a power or ability. Well, that is a holdover from an earlier rule set. There used to be a distinction in the rules between optional and non-optional powers and you could cancel optional powers… and, yes, that was yet a third term that was separate and distinct from counter and ignore and would frequently be conflated with the other two. But cancelling hasn’t been in the rules for a couple years now. It no longer exists and the term has no meaning in Heroclix; if someone is telling you they are, “Canceling that power,” you need to make sure that A) they know they can’t really do that and B) ask them to please clarify what exactly it is they are trying to do. For example, someone may say that they are canceling their Willpower (as they wish to take push damage for some reason). In fact, they are not cancelling their power, rather, they are utilizing the fact that Willpower says “This character may ignore pushing damage.” From a timing perspective this can be important – they me not want to take the push damage if they roll for an attack and critically miss (thereby putting them on the click they intended).
This wraps up our counter and ignore tutorial, but please keep in mind that the examples I’ve given about (Outwit and Pulse Wave) are not the end of the story. They are not the only way you can counter and ignore game effects. Rather than remember Outwit does X while Pulse Wave does Y, remember to instead look for those words “counter” and “ignore” in the descriptions of game effects. Now it doesn’t matter if the effect is called Outwit, Super Outwit, Super Duper Outwit, or Bob… if the effect uses the word counter, then it counters (same thing for ignore).
I hope you have found this information useful. If you have any more questions about counter, ignore, or other aspects of the game, please feel free to send an e-mail to HeroClixRules@gmail.com!
-Rules Representative: Jeff “normalview” Orasky