In 2013, the rules for my absolute favorite HeroClix power, Probability Control, changed. Just a subtle change, to the average Clix player’s eye…but for my personal playstyle and collection, it was disastrous. Here’s the official ruling from the 2013 Powers and Abilities card:
See that line saying “A character using this power must be within range (minimum range 6)?” That’s the change. Your Probability Control character must be within at least 6 squares of the character he/she is Probbing, or have a range greater than 6 so they can be farther back. (They also changed Perplex and Outwit to read the same, but my main beef is with Prob since it’s my favorite power.)
The Problem: This Hurts 0-Range Probbers
Unfortunately, there are lots of older, cheap “just-Prob” HeroClix figures with low or no range (Destiny, Black Cat, and even a Scarlet Witch or two are notable examples). For that matter, any figure with Prob and low/no range falls victim to this–they get granted a 6 range as a grace while using Prob, but they still have to be much closer to the action than you want ANY Prob piece to be.
See, Probability Control, at least for me, is a power best played from mid- to back-field, so that you can more easily protect the Prob piece from attack. Most of my Prob pieces, in particular are shorter-dialed and weaker; this new rule short-circuits my careful Prob playstyle, forcing me to bring my one-trick Prob ponies potentially into the fray.
In short, I’m having to rethink my whole playstyle, since Prob is so important to all my team builds and I’m used to playing Prob a certain way. It’s a challenge to my whole Clix mindset. Argh.
Devil’s Advocate: Why They Probably Did This
However, I can admit that I know at least one reason why they changed this rule–to stop exactly the kind of tactic I’ve been employing. Probbing from way far back on the map means that you can use a 20-point piece to effectively change the course of a 400- or 500-point game. VERY sneaky (and very funny, but that’s beside the point). I can understand how annoying that would be from an opponent’s perspective, not to be able to get to the supportive pieces to knock them out.
Moving Forward: How to Play Around This New Rule
So how do we players with no-range/weaker Prob pieces adapt? Well, after some thought (and some trial/error), here are some ways I’ve come up with?
- Pair a no-range/weaker Prob piece with a stronger piece, ideally with Flight/Carry ability, longer range, and/or Defend. The Flight will make the Prob piece more mobile; Defend will bring up the Prob piece’s defense; range will enable the stronger piece to fend off opposing pieces before they get too close.
- Position weaker Prob pieces on Hindering Terrain to give them a defense boost at range.
- Use several close-combat pieces as “tie-up” for opposing characters, so that they cannot get free and attack your Prob pieces.
- When possible, do not move your Prob piece any closer than 6 squares away from the general center of battle.
- Use Elevated Terrain to your advantage, especially when playing against a largely close-combat team; your no-range Prob piece sitting up high will enable that 6 Prob range to be used more effectively.