When the 2012 Rulebook and Powers and Abilities Card debuted earlier this year, there were many small tweaks here and there to existing game effects; large scale changes were relatively minimal. But probably the single largest change was the introduction of two new combat abilities and a conversion to a symbol-based system to show, at a glance, what previously could take a couple sentences of text. Like all things new, these changes can be a bit daunting at first. So we’ve put together this primer on the new combat abilities to explain how exactly they are used and also to help with the interpretation of these new symbols.
So strap in and prepare to learn all about Improved Characters and that wacky table on the back of your Powers and Abilities Card!
All Pluses, No Minuses
Page 17 of the rules explains exactly what an Improved Character is, but here is the crash course version: Characters that can use Improved Movement or Improved Targeting are identified by the on their dial top, near where you’d also find the . This by itself doesn’t tell you exactly what kind of Improved abilities the character can use; only that the character does indeed possess some kind of Improvement. You will need to check the character card to see exactly what kind of Improved abilities the character has. There is also a chart on the Powers and Abilities Card (PAC) that is necessary for interpreting the effects of Improved abilities.
Improved Movement and Improved Targeting are combat abilities, similar to effects like Flight, Indomitable, or Move and Attack. This means that a character can use its Improved Movement or Targeting anywhere on its dial. Also this means you can use Outwit to counter Improved Movement and Improved Targeting:
One use of Outwit will counter all aspects of a character’s Improved Movement or Improved Targeting; the combat ability is Improved Movement (or Improved Targeting), not the little colored squares and symbols that follow afterwards. You do not need to/can’t counter each little colored square and squiggle in an Improved Movement/Targeting description.
The Running Man: Improved Movement Explained
When you see the on a character’s card or in the description of a power or ability that tells you that the character is able to use Improved Movement. This means the character is able to ignore certain game effects that would normally impede, or outright prevent, movement across the map. The exact type of Improved Movement will vary from character to character and is determined by the little colored boxes and symbols that follow the . Let’s jump right in and take a look at a specific example:
We can see that Blackbat has an Improved Movement ability called Freedom of Movement and there are three symbols following the : a red square (), a green square (), and a black circle () . If we check the Improved Movement/Targeting chart on the PAC, we see that symbolizes elevated terrain, that symbolizes hindering terrain, and symbolizes characters. When paired up with, this means Blackbat can ignore elevated and hindering terrain and characters when she moves.
How about another example, this time using a standard power that references Improved Movement:
Here we see that Leap/Climb makes reference to four different symbols for Improved Movement: red and green squares (, ), a brown square with an “O” in the middle (), and a black circle (). When we check the chart on the PAC again, we see that this means a character using Leap/Climb can ignore elevated terrain, hindering terrain, outdoor blocking terrain (but not indoor blocking), and characters it moves. Speaking of Leap/Climb…
Ignoring Hindering Terrain: Wading Through It All
Ever since this new Improved stuff has appeared, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about the ‘changes’ to Leap/Climb and the Flight ability and such: Why can’t these character ignore water terrain anymore? Why isn’t there a blue square in the description ()?
Well, they can ignore water. Actually, other than switching from words to symbols THERE HAS BEEN NO CHANGE in these kinds of game effects. For reference, here is the 2011 wording for Leap/Climb (pre-symbols):
LEAP/CLIMB Give this character a move action and move it up to its speed value. It automatically breaks away, may move through squares adjacent to and occupied by opposing figures, and ignores the effects of hindering terrain, elevated terrain, and outdoor blocking terrain on movement. When you give this character a close combat action, it may target a character regardless of the target’s elevation.
Please notice that nowhere in that description do the words “water terrain” appear. This isn’t because a character using Leap/Climb can’t move through water… it is because water, for movement purposes, is hindering terrain. And Leap/Climb (both before and now) ignores hindering terrain for movement purposes. From the rule book (page 12):
Movement: Water terrain impedes movement, and is hindering terrain for movement purposes.
Bullseye: Improved Targeting Explained
When you see the on a character’s card or in the description of a power or ability that tells you that the character is able to use Improved Targeting. This means the character is able to ignore certain effects that would normally hinder or block line of fire. Much like Improved Movement, the exact type of Improved Targeting is determined by the little colored boxes and symbols that follow the . For example:
Sharpshooter is an ability that lets a character use ignore two different effects via Improved Targeting: opposing characters ( ) don’t block line of fire and adjacent opposing characters ( ) can be attacked with ranged combat attacks.
Here is another example:
Pulse Wave is a power that does an awful lot of stuff, but for our purposes today, we want to focus on the Improved Targeting aspects of the power. Specifically, we see a green square (), black circle (), and what looks like two circles bisected by an arrow () after the . This means that when Pulse Wave is used, the character’s line of fire ignores hindering terrain and characters (both friendly and opposing characters) and the character can make ranged combat attacks even if it is adjacent to an opposing character.
Did I Improve Your Understanding?
This wraps up our discussion for today and, hopefully, you now understand this whole Improved Movement and Improved Targeting thing a bit better. Yes, these symbols can be a bit daunting at first, but if you take a look at the character in the PAC, you will find that the symbols mean largely the same thing across the two Improved abilities: a will mean, whether moving or drawing line of fire, that your character is going to be ignoring elevation. So if you can remember that = elevation then you are already halfway toward knowing what a : means*.
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 or hit the Rules Deputies up on the forums!
*It means you would ignore elevation when drawing lines of fire, in case you weren’t quite sure.
-Rules Representative: Jeff “normalview” Orasky