The HeroClix Watch List: Upcoming Changes

Published on October 23rd, 2013

Greetings HeroClixers, it is at last time to circle back on the Watch List and announce some big changes. As discussed in previous articles (The Announcement and An Update), by launching the Watch List, our goal is to encourage a healthy game environment for HeroClix. The list below gives a very high level description of the changes that will be made.  Note that the specific rules language hasn’t been finalized yet, as we’re checking for corner cases, but the essentials of each change is below.

GENERAL RULE CHANGE

The process of analyzing and testing the items on the Watch List demonstrated there was one general issue  contributing to an unhealthy game environment – the ability to create situations where a single character could make multiple attacks during the course of a turn. Therefore, the first major rules change to come out from the Watch List is: “Each time a character makes an attack in a turn after their first, their damage value is modified by -1 until the end of the turn, minimum 1.”

Now, this causes a trickle-down of other errata. Duo Attack and Multiattack are both combat abilities that already do this, so the modifier in those combat abilities will be removed, which slightly improves Multiattack. Flurry is a standard power that was never envisioned to have this penalty, so it will get language that would prevent this new general rule from affecting it. This modifier will be just like other modifiers, so it will be subject to the rule of 3, a locked value would not be modified, etc. Right now, we don’t envision errata to any characters that make multiple attacks via a special power that doesn’t use Flurry – they’ll get the -1 to damage.

TEAM BASES

While the Working Together ability is impacted by the new general rule, it was not quite enough to bring this ability to where it needed to be. Therefore the number of actions a team base gets from this ability is being toned down as well. Going forward, while using Working Together, a team can be given up to 1 action as a free action for every 200 points (or fraction thereof) of the team’s point value. The same restrictions apply, only up to one of each power, move, close combat or ranged combat action, and then the rest can be attacks.

While the Working Together ability was the primary focus of team bases during this analysis, two other changes for team bases are being implemented. First, being able to heal a character up beyond the click it was brought into the game is a mechanic that needed to be revisited. While the basic mechanics of Solo Adventure remains the same, the characters brought on the map through this ability will consider that colored click number as their starting line. Now, there are still isolated cases where characters have the ability to heal beyond their starting line (like Black Queen), but outside of those isolated cases, these characters won’t be able to heal up past the click they are brought in on.

The other change is to the roll to see who goes first. The bonus a player gets as a result of playing a team base will change. Instead of being +1 for each character on the team base, it will be +1 for per 100 points (or fraction thereof) of the team’s point value.

SHATTERSTAR

A late addition to the watch list, he bubbled up as the “piece to play” if everything else on the list was addressed. Again, many different approaches were tried, with the goal to keep him a solid piece to use, but to remove the abuse of being able to bring a character to attack anyone/anywhere. To that end, he will be issued errata preventing the teleported character from being given a non-free action this turn. This alters his play style significantly. You’ll be using him to position offensively when you can afford to wait until your next turn to act with the teleported character or, more likely, you’ll see Shatterstar’s teleportation being used defensively much more frequently.

BAT-MITE

Another character that brings the danger of teleportation, but this time it already had a clause preventing the non-free action. The flip side with Bat-Mite was the Idol’s likelihood to be making a close or ranged combat attack as a free action. Now, the first thing is the new general rule scales this back a touch. In addition, we are issuing errata for this mechanic. Instead of dealing unavoidable damage on a 1 only, the risk to the Idol is now going to result in unavoidable damage on a result of 1-2 (and the ability for Bat-Mite’s player to control the location and not take damage occurs on a 3-6 instead of a 2-6).

HEROES FOR HIRE

This ATA made a huge splash at Nationals and brought characters like Ghost Rider to top teams. While the ability needed to be toned down, we wanted to maintain a similar mechanic. Going forward, Heroes for Hire will allow the character to remove a Hired token to make a close or ranged combat attack as a free action, instead of being given any action as a free action. And, of course, the general rule would apply to this as well, so if they’ve already made an attack this turn, this one will be at -1 damage.

UTILITY BELT

The Utility Belt was the first HeroClix piece to allow you to customize your force after you had seen what you were up against. With its ability to allow you to use Prep Time to get to the +2 click, the focus of the Belt has been all about the bonus and the items have been an after-thought. While this change will certainly drop the Belt in terms of its effectiveness, it will encourage the player who is making use of Utility Belt Items to make the most of them. Prep Time will be issued errata to say: “Give the assigned character a double power action and turn the Utility Belt to any click that does not have a special power. Do not otherwise turn the dial at the end of your turn.”

In addition, game effects allowing the Belt-holder to also make attacks as free actions created an unintended loophole where the dial was not clicked. So we are adding a clause to the Turning the Dial section so that it says: “At the end of your turn, if the assigned character was given a non-free action or made an attack, roll a d6”

VEHICLES / GCPD CRUISER

As we took a look at the non-attack capability of the GCPD Cruiser, other vehicle-related issues came up. While many of these changes might not be “Watch List” caliber, it was felt that they bring a more rational set of rules for vehicles in general. For one thing, from now on, pilots can’t be bystanders. Secondly, since we use the damage symbol to communicate “size”, pilots are also prohibited from being larger than the vehicle they are piloting – so Giants and Colossals can no longer be pilots (except Giants may pilot the Bug which has the Giant symbol). Lastly, vehicles can no longer be assigned a resource (with resources like the Book of the Skull that apply to your entire force, the exact wording of how this is going to be implemented is still in the works).

With the general non-Watch List related items out of the way, the tweak for the GCPD Cruiser is a very simple change. It maintains the capability to still move characters about and it will continue to deal damage, but the “penetrating” aspect of the damage it deals with Clear the Streets is being removed.

Well, folks, that is a whole lot of changes for the game environment. While it was certainly not our…

What’s that?

You were expecting more?

Let me check my papers here…

(shuffle shuffle)

Heh

Yes. There was indeed one more topic to cover.

Ahem.

SPIRAL

No one on the Watch List generated as much passion and discussion as this girl. Comments ranged from as extreme as “just leave her be, there are other ways to address her” (with a long list of strategies) to the other end of “just remove the trait altogether.”

So, it is known that whatever change is being made here, it’s going to be seen as “not enough” for some people and “way too much” for others. Our primary goal was to bring Spiral to a place where she could be a playable piece, worth fielding for her point value, and not an automatic go-to in order to circumvent the map choice.

With that in mind, we’re implementing the following changes to Portals. It will now read: “Give Spiral a double power action, remove all of her Gateway markers from the map and place 2 Gateway markers on the map. Place one in an adjacent square and the other may be placed in any square on the map. Starting with your next turn, give a friendly character occupying the square of a Gateway marker a free action and place it in the square of the other Gateway marker.”

That’s 3 important changes, each underlined separately.

First, the Spiral on one force no longer messes around with the Gateway markers of an opposing Spiral. While this was a good thing to have in balance on the original version, with the other changes made, this was no longer a necessary exploit.

Next, the opposing team will now have a turn to react before Spiral’s force starts utilizing the Gateway. While you certain can place the Gateway marker among your opponent’s force to get maximum attack capability, the opponent might take that opportunity to scatter, occupy the Gateway, or other strategies to address it.

Lastly, it is no longer a simple “move” to go from one square to another. You have to give a character a specific free action to change from one Gateway to another. That will mean that the other Gateway will need to be clear. It’ll mean that if you aren’t occupying the Gateway at the beginning of the turn, you need to find a way to get that character to that square in order to be able to get to the other side.

In short, Spiral’s Portals are still useful but they aren’t the shortcut to alpha strike that they used to be.

CONCLUSION

Those are some pretty big changes and it will no doubt be some time before they are all included in the Player’s Guide with final language. We would advise judges running events to work with their player base and consider adopting these rulings sooner rather than later.

That’s it for this iteration of the Watch List.  Brother Voodoo was determined not to need refinement at this time.  The Watch List is closed for now, but if gameplay issues come up again, either through new figures or new exploits of previous game elements, we may reopen the list with new additions.

And, with that, we really are done. Other games would issue “bannings” to these pieces, but that’s not the path we chose.  We want you to be able to play these pieces, but we don’t want them to be the only option for competitive play.  So we have reduced the power on some of these pieces and are hopeful that these changes bring about a more balanced field of choice.  We always want a healthy gameplay environment, but we also want a dynamic environment with innovative mechanics and character designs that intrigue players.  From time to time, that means we may need to tidy things up, as every other collectible game that has lasted more than 10 years also needs to do.  This is why we instituted the Watch List.  Lots of amazing pieces have come out in the past year that may get a chance to shine now, and there’s more amazing stuff on the way.  Stay tuned!

 

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