Heroclix Rules Question

School of Hard Knocks – Even More Knock Back!

Greetings HeroClix Fans!

Previously, we’ve explored the basics of knock back .  However, there are many game effects that can influence the way knock back functions.  There are ways to prevent knock back, ways to cause knock back in different ways, and even some ways to pick and choose when you are knocked back.  In the previous article was the HeroClix KB 101 course, consider this the graduate level seminar…

Common Corner Cases – Map effects   

For purposes of this discussion, map effects will cover anything on the map (terrain, character configurations, map edges) that might interfere with normal knock back.  We’re not focusing on the character’s dial (powers and such) at the moment.

Let’s begin with other characters and how they impact knock back.  Recall from our last knock back article that Cyclops and Wolverine were throwing down with the Brotherhood?  Well, that battle is about to get a bit more complicated:

kb - pic 8

Last time, Juggernaut knocked back Wolverine and Cyclops knocked back Pyro.  We’ll say the same things happen this time, only now some other characters are in the way, and see what happens.

First, let’s look at Wolverine’s knock back path.  Juggy knocks him back, but Sabretooth is in the way… does that mean Wolverine is dealt knock back damage?  Is hitting a character the same as hitting a wall?  Well, the rule book (page 11) tells us:

If the knock back path would cross a square occupied by another character, put the knocked back character in the last unoccupied square adjacent to the square occupied by the other character. Stopping in this way does not deal damage to either character.

So, no, Wolverine would not be dealt any damage for being knocked back into Sabretooth.  Yes, the path of knock back is blocked, but being stopped by a character is not the same thing as being stopped by terrain.

But what if Sabretooth was re-positioned slightly?  Consider this arrangement:

kb - pic 9

If Juggernaut knocks back Wolverine now, there is no character directly along the knock back path to prevent Wolverine from flying through the air.  Even though it looks like he might have a hard time squeezing around Sabretooth and Blob (let’s face it, everyone has a hard time squeezing around Blob), the path is along that direct diagonal line and nothing will impede Wolverine on that line until he hits the elevated terrain.

Now how about Pyro?  Before, Cyke knocked him off the elevated terrain, but this time around Mystique is sitting in the square Pyro would have been knocked into.  Does he fall on top of her?  Does he go into another, lower square?  Page 11 once again has the answer:

If the first square of a lower elevation along the knock back path is not able to be occupied, the knock back path ends in the last square of the higher elevation and that character is not dealt knock back damage.


It seems that Pyro lucks out; not only does he not take any damage at all for knock back, he doesn’t even move.  He stays right there and can take a shot at Cyke in retaliation next turn.  Note that this would work not only in this particular case, where Mystique prevents Pyro from occupying that lower square, but if ANYTHING prevented Pyro from occupying that square.  A chunk of blocking terrain would work just as well in this case.

                        Now that Pyro has taken his lumps, let’s segue from the character interactions on knock back into some odd map effects.  First, let’s say Pyro does retaliate against Cyclops and Pyro rolls double 6s!  Take that, Slim!  The only place Cyclops has to go, though, is off the map… and we can’t do that.  From page 11 again:

A character’s knock back path can’t continue beyond a square that blocks movement, elevated terrain of a higher elevation or the edge of the map. If it would do so, the character’s knock back path ends in the square before its path would cross into any of these areas, and the character is dealt 1 damage, as shown in Figure 10.


As far as knock back is concerned, there is no real difference between the edge of the map and a wall or square of blocking terrain: the path is blocked, so damage is dealt.  Be careful generalizing too much with this, though… the edge of the map is NOT actually blocking terrain or a wall.  Any other game effect which actually cares about blocking terrain would not have anything to do with the map edge.


So far, these kinds of map effects are not specific to any one map; they can be applied whenever and wherever they arise.  Some maps, however, have orange special terrain and that special terrain may have additional, knock back related rules.  For example, the Deep Space terrain on the map from the set Super Nova has the following special text:


A successful attack that does not otherwise knock back a character occupying space terrain knocks back that character a number of squares equal to damage dealt -2, to a minimum of 0. When targeting a character occupying space terrain with Force Blast, roll two six-sided dice instead of one. All knock back ends immediately when a character enters the first square that is not space terrain. Characters occupying space terrain are not dealt knock back damage if their knock back paths are ended by the edge of the map.


Not only is it possible for any attack that causes damage to generate knock back, doubles or no, but pay particular attention to the bit that says, “All knock back ends immediately when a character enters the first square that is not space terrain.”  Specifically, the “All knock back” part.  So any knock back, whether caused by rolling doubles, by using Quake or Force Blast or another power, or by these special map rules, will end immediately if the character is taken outside of the special terrain.  “Does that mean the character is dealt knock back damage?” you ask.  Not unless that square would normally block movement anyway (like if there was a square of blocking terrain there); terrain that blocks movement is what typically causes knock back damage, not the simple ending of the movement.  Additionally, note that if the character is knocked back into the edge of the map, there is no damage in this special terrain.  In other words, this map tends to have characters shooting around like pinballs, but very little knock back damage tends to occur here.


Here’s another example, from the SHIELD Helicarrier map:


Orange squares 10,000 feet below squares. Characters can’t move into or occupy these squares. If a character’s knock back path is stopped by one of these squares, deal that character 1 additional unavoidable damage.

In this case, not only does the character take knock back damage for being stopped by the orange squares (a character can’t move through them, so knock back is stopped), but the knocked back character would be zapped with some additional, unavoidable damage even if it would otherwise ignore or reduce knock back damage.


We don’t really have the time and space to go over every single possible exception based on special map rules, but hopefully these few examples have given you enough of an understanding that you can figure out what happens if something else comes along.  And if not, you can always ask us if you have more questions!


Common Corner Cases – Powers and Abilities

Moving on, we are now focused on the characters themselves instead of the maps.  There are four common powers that provide exceptions to the knock back rules, two combat abilities that might be important, and a whole gaggle of special powers and traits.  An important point to keep in mind during this discussion is some of these effects prevent knock back from occurring.  You would check for these kinds of effects BEFORE any damage from a knock back causing attack is applied.

Let’s look at those common powers first.


Pretty simple: Charge causes the character to ignore knock back.  If a Charge-having character is hit with doubles, attacked with Quake, or would otherwise be knocked back, it just doesn’t happen.  Charge ignores that knock back.  Keep an eye out for this… I’ve seen players forget this many, MANY times, focusing instead on how Charge lets a character move up and attack.  Also note that this is no way optional; you can’t choose to “turn off” Charge if you want to be knocked back by an attack.


Also pretty simple: assign your power action, pick an adjacent character, and then roll the d6.  Boom.  Instant knock back.  Players tend to poo-poo Force Blast because it doesn’t cause huge damage or let you zip around the map attacking at will… but they also tend to forget that there is absolutely no attack roll necessary (doubles or otherwise), that powers like Shape Change or Super Senses offer no protection, and you are guaranteed at least 1 square of knock back (maybe a lot more).   WS Nightcrawler being a pain in your neck?  Bounce him off the edge some elevated terrain!  Old KC Green Lantern too hard to hit?  Slam him into the wall once or twice and he becomes much easier to manage!   Force Blast isn’t as ubiquitously useful as Hypersonic Speed or Outwit, but it can be awesome in the right circumstances.

QuakeA little more complicated than Charge or Force Blast, but still pretty easy once you break it down.  Basically, your character attacks all adjacent opposing characters with one single attack and its damage value is locked at 2 for the duration of this attack.  After the attack is over and damage has been dished out, any character that took damage from this attack is knocked back accordingly.  So, barring critical hits, you can knock back characters either 1 or 2 squares with this power (depending on how much damage the characters actually took).  No doubles are necessary… all you have to do is hit and damage your target(s) and they will be knocked back. This power is particularly awesome when used against groups of characters with little/no damage reduction (most any Minion fits that description).  Note, that there are no special rules in place if you do happen to roll doubles when you attack with this power; you don’t get extra knock back for rolling doubles or anything like that.

This power actually has two parts related to knock back.  The first part allows you to choose to knock back the character in situations in would not normally be knocked back.  Is Wolverine taking too much of a beating from Juggernaut?  If Wolvie can use Combat Reflexes when Juggernaut successfully attacks him, you can choose to knock back Wolverine even if Juggy didn’t roll doubles and make an escape.  Please note that this only allows you to choose to take knock back in cases when you normally wouldn’t… it does NOT let you choose to ignore knock back in cases when your character would be knocked back normally.   Also note that this part of the power lets your character be knocked back even if it normally CAN’T be knocked back.  For example, Charge normally ignores knock back, but a character that can also use Combat Reflexes may choose to be knocked back even those Charge tries to say “no way”.

The second part kicks in AFTER a character has been knocked back.  Once knock back is actually happening (either because you choose to use the first part or because of some other, knock back-causing effect), if the character would then be dealt knock back damage for hitting a wall or something similar this power ignores that damage.  It doesn’t reduce the damage dealt, like Toughness would, but flat out ignores it.  This can be an important distinction if certain other game effects are in play (the Armor Wars Battlefield Condition, for example, increase damage dealt if it is reduced… this does not reduce damage dealt, so Armor Wars would have no effect).

Since Combat Reflexes has two different effects on knock back that activate at two different times, it is completely possible that your character may not actually get to use both parts during the same attack.  Let’s continue the example above, with Wolverine choosing to take knock back from Juggernaut… we’ll Juggernaut hits him for 3 damage, Wolverine takes 3 and clicks onto a click with Regeneration.  Then he is knocked back 3 squares and, unfortunately for him, hits a wall and is dealt 1 knock back damage.  Since he now has Regeneration and not Combat Reflexes, he can’t ignore this knock back damage and it may very well KO him.  The opposite is also true: say Wolverine was on a click with Toughness and Juggernaut rolled doubles when he hit Wolverine.  Wolverine takes some damage, lands on Combat Reflexes, and is then knocked back because of the doubles.  During the knock back, he falls off of some elevated terrain, but the newly revealed Combat Reflexes would let him ignore the 2 damage normally dealt for being knocked back off of elevated terrain.

Now for the combat abilities mentioned before:


As you might have already noticed, that ability doesn’t say anything at all about knock back.  Instead, what we really care about for this discussion comes from the discussion of knock back in the rules book (page 11):


Characters using the Flight ability (see the Powers and Abilities Card) which are knocked back off of elevated terrain are not dealt knock back damage, though they still end their knock back path in the first empty square of a lower elevation.


So when a character that can use Flight is knocked back off of elevated terrain, it would not be dealt any damage.  Flight has no other effect on knock back (they are still repositioned normally, still dealt damage if stopped by a wall, etc), but since falling causes a big fat 2 damage dealt, this ability can really save your character’s bacon and is well worth remembering.



Right there at the beginning of the ability, simply put, these characters can’t be knocked back.  So, short of Combat Reflexes granting a choice on the matter, your Giants and Colossals won’t have to worry about knock back.


Moving on to special powers and traits, I want to point out that there are many, many, many related to knock back in some way, shape, or form.  It is well beyond the scope of this article to cover every last one.  Much like the special map rules, though, I’ll select a couple and hopefully you’ll be able to use these examples as a guide for other effects.


Repulsor Rays: After Iron Man hits a character with a ranged combat attack and actions resolve, you may knock back that character an amount equal to the difference between Iron Man’s range value and the number of squares to that character.


Using this power requires a bit of math, but is otherwise pretty straight forward.  If Iron Man hits a character with a ranged combat attack, and that character isn’t at the absolute edge of Iron Man’s range, he will knock it back.


There are a couple interesting wrinkles, though.  First, Iron Man doesn’t even need to damage the character, just that hit it.  So Impervious could reduce the damage from the attack to 0, but Iron Man could still knock that character back a couple squares if it was close enough.  Also worthy of note is that this power causes knock back AFTER the action resolves.  Normal knock back occurs DURING the action.  In this case, it is actually possible to generate knock back twice: Iron Man rolls doubles and hits, knocking back his target.  Then, after the action resolves, check how far away the target is and, if close enough, knock it back again.  Potentially a very deadly combo if the character is actually trapped in a corner and has nowhere to go… Iron Man can just keep bouncing it off the walls.


The Living Bomb Burst: All damage dealt by Blastaar causes knock back.


This one is deceptively simple.  When it says “all damage dealt by Blastaar”, it really does mean ALL damage.  For example, let’s say Blastaar is wielding the Infinity Gauntlet and now has the ability to use Poison… well, when Blastaar uses Poison and damages any adjacent opposing characters, those characters will also be knocked back by that damage.


Swat: All damage dealt by Red King causes knock back. When the knock back path of a character knocked back in this way is stopped by another character, deal both characters 2 knock back damage.


Normally, being knocked back into a character causes no knock back damage.  This particular power not only causes knock back damage to the character that was knocked back, but also to the character that stopped the knock back.  Two points of interest here are A) we are still talking about knock back damage, so it can be reduced/ignored by anything that would normally reduce or ignore knock back damage and B) ANY character ending the knock back will cause this damage (and be damaged), so watch how you position your own friendly characters or you may end up damaging them accidentally!


Common Corner Cases – Miscellaneous


Finally, because it didn’t really fit in anywhere else, keep in mind that multi-based characters can’t be knocked back.  Many multi-base characters are already Giants or Colossals (so Great Size also prevents knock back), but for those that aren’t, the rule book tells us on page 15 that knock back is a no-no:


Multi-base characters can’t be carried or knocked back. They can’t be placed by the Telekinesis power.


Got it?


So that wraps up our second discussion of knock back.  Hopefully, between the more basic, general knock back article presented earlier and now this look at some of the exceptions to the general knock back rules, we’ve covered all the bases.    If you have any further knock back questions, don’t hesitate to ask.  Who knows, maybe your question might be the genesis of a third article!


Thanks once again for reading along today.  I hope you have found this information useful.  If you have any more questions about this article, send an e-mail to or hit the Rules Deputies up on the forums!


Jeff “normalview” Orasky

HeroClix Rules Review Rules Question

School of Hard Knocks – An Introduction to Knock Back

Greetings HeroClix Fans!

Today, HeroClix Rules Deputy Jeff “normalview” Orasky takes a closer look at how “knock back” operates in a typical HeroClix game.  Without further ado, we are pleased to present…

School of Hard Knocks – Introduction to Knock Back

BAM!  Juggernaut has just smashed Wolverine so hard that Wolverine is sent sailing through the air… happens all the time in comic books, but how exactly does that translate into HeroClix?  The answer, my friends, is KNOCK BACK.  Knock back is an awesome nod to comic book combat and adds an interesting (if somewhat random) wrinkle to the complexity of HeroClix.  But figuring out exactly what knock back is (and what it isn’t) and how it is used can be a bit daunting.  Here is yet another Rules Review to give you the introductory KB 101 you’ve been looking for.

What is Knock Back?

Let’s go right to the source and consult the rules.  From page 10 of the 2012 Rulebook:

When a player rolls doubles on a successful attack roll, the target is knocked back after any damage taken from the attack is applied. Knock back represents a character being thrown backward by the force of an attack.

So knock back is something that happens when you roll doubles on your attack roll, assuming that attack roll hit the target.  Cool.  Further on, we have:

A knocked back character is moved back one square for each 1 damage taken. Move the character in a straight line away from the attacking character—called the knock back path—even if that path is on a diagonal. If multiple characters take damage from a game effect that causes knock back, resolve the knock back starting with the character farthest from the attacker.

Because you rolled doubles and generated knock back, the target (or targets, because we see right here that we can knock back multiple characters) is repositioned away from the attacker 1 square for each click of damage the target took from the attack.  Seems simple enough, but why not give a practical illustration?

kb - pic 1

Cyclops and Wolverine of the X-Men are facing off against the Brotherhood of Mutants.  Uh-oh, Mystique has used her wily shape-shifting ways to sneak up on the leader of the X-Men!  Cyclops rolls to attack Mystique before she can stab him in the back and rolls two 5s… a hit and knock back!  Cyclops is dealing 3 damage and Mystique has no way to reduce that so she takes 3 damage.  And since she took 3 damage, she is knocked back 3 squares like so:

kb - pic 2 mod

It is worth noting that the section also specifies that knock back is always away from the character that caused the knock back.  So even if Mystique had been able to use Mastermind when Cyclops attacked her, the character damaged via Mastermind would have still have been knocked back away from Cyclops (the character causing the knock back) and NOT from Mystique.

So what’s next in the rules?

If the knock back path is not along a straight horizontal or vertical 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.

Okay, so if the knock back isn’t on an exactly diagonal path, we make it an exactly diagonal path.  This keeps things simple rather than trying to guess at moving 1 square this-a-way and 3 squares that-a-way kind of thing (those who have been playing for a long time might remember how awkward that was…).  Want another example?  Sure!

kb - pic 3

The fiery Pyro is all set to roast Wolverine!  Pyro makes a ranged combat attack and rolls two 4s… a hit and knock back!  Wolverine takes 2 damage, but he is not on an exact diagonal to Pyro.  So when we go to knock back Wolverine, we need to find the square that is A) on the opposite side of Wolverine from Pyro and B) would be diagonal (not vertical or horizontal) from Wolverine’s current square.  He gets knocked back along that pathway.  Like so:

kb - pic 4 mod

Moving on in the rules, we find:

Movement along a knock back path ignores the effects of hindering terrain and objects on movement.

Very straight forward: hindering terrain (including any objects on the map) has absolutely no effect on knock back.  Just because a knocked back character “hits” a bush or gumball machine does not mean it stops its knock back prematurely.

Last, but certainly not least, we’ve got:

Game effects that activate as a result of a character moving are not activated by a character moving due to knock back.

So any and all game effects that care about “movement” are not bothered by knock back.  For example:


Whenever an opposing character given an action attempts to move from a non-adjacent square into a square that is adjacent to a character using the Hypertime team ability, it must roll a d6. On a result of 1-2, the opposing character cannot move to any square adjacent to the character using this team ability that turn. Characters using this team ability ignore it on opposing characters.

This team ability would normally require an opposing character to roll off before attempting to move into a square adjacent to the user.  But knock back is not defined as movement so if an opposing character is knocked back toward a Hypertime character, the team ability will not activate.

Once more, for emphasis since it comes up a lot, KNOCK BACK IS NOT MOVEMENT.

Knock Back Damage

Sometimes knock back will cause a character to hit a wall, or fall off the edge of elevated terrain.  When that happens, we get knock back damage.  Let’s check the rule book again (now on page 11):

A character’s knock back path can’t continue beyond a square that blocks movement, elevated terrain of a higher elevation or the edge of the map. If it would do so, the character’s knock back path ends in the square before its path would cross into any of these areas, and the character is dealt 1 damage.


Now the battle is really on and Wolverine and Cyclops both find themselves tussling with the unstoppable Juggernaut and the fiery Pyro!

kb - pic 5

Juggernaut has been scrapping with Wolverine and both have taken some damage.  Suddenly, Juggy rolls double 3s, a hit and knock back on Wolverine!  Wolverine takes his 3 clicks (like I said, both have taken some damage and Juggernaut isn’t on his 4 damage clicks any more) and then is knocked back 1 square before the elevated terrain gets in his way and he must stop moving, 2 squares short of the 3 he should have moved.

kb - pic 6 mod

Since Wolverine ends his knock back early, he would normally be dealt 1 damage but the Combat Reflexes now showing on his dial protects him (more on that in the next article).

Meanwhile, Cyclops and Pyro are taking shots at each other and Cyke rolls double 5s!  Pyro is hit and knocked back off the elevated terrain like so:

kb - pic 7 mod

And we see in the rule book (page 11, again):

When a character is knocked across the rim of elevated terrain (i.e.: from a higher elevation to a lower elevation (see Line of Fire: The Rim, p. 14), the knock back path ends in the first square of a lower elevation and that character is dealt 2 knock back damage.

Even though Pyro would normally be knocked back 3 squares by Cyclops’s attack, when he changes elevation the knock back movement ends immediately and he is dealt 2 damage.

Finishing up… For now

There is plenty more to discuss with knock back (specific exceptions, odd-ball interactions, and such), but this article is already getting pretty long and you’ve got quite a bit to read through.   We will cover these more complicated situations in a later article. Let’s just finish up by pointing out that knock back damage (the stuff that happens whenever the knocked back character hits a wall or falls off of elevated terrain) is DAMAGE DEALT, which means that it can be reduced by any game effect that reduces damage dealt.  Toughness, Invulnerability, and Impervious can all blunt (or completely neutralize) the threat of knock back damage.  But knock back damage is not, by itself, an attack.  It frequently happens because an attack was made, but it is a side effect of the attack and attacks are not the only way knock back can be generated.  This means that game effects that depend on attacks to activate (like the Mystics team ability), will not be activated by knock back damage.

In summary:

  • Knock back (normally) occurs when a successful attack roll is doubles
  • Knock back is ALWAYS away from the source/cause of the knock back
  • Knock back is (normally) equal to the damage taken by the target of the attack
  • Knock back is NOT, NOT, NOT movement and will NOT, NOT, NOT activate game effects that kick in when movement occurs
  • If knock back is ended prematurely (by hitting walls or something), knock back damage is dealt
  • Knock back damage is damage dealt and can be reduced accordingly
  • Knock back damage is not an attack

Thanks once again for reading along today.  I hope you have found this information useful.  If you have any more questions about knock back or other aspects of the game, please feel free to send an e-mail to!

Jeff “normalview” Orasky