Tag Archives: heroclix

The Best Offense is a Good Defense–Wait, What?

bestoffensegooddefense
[/shameless paraphrase of cliche]

A quick, efficient win is usually prized among gamers, especially when playing competitively. But let me bend your thoughts a minute. What if, instead of looking to win quickly, you wanted a SATISFYING game? A game that took a little while but afforded a win you could actually savor?

This second approach is my philosophy on gaming. I don’t want just a quick, easy win–it feels like cheating, or like eating cotton candy for dinner. I’d rather have a game which makes me think and allows me to socialize a little, too. I favor long games–which means that I play defensively.

Thinking Defensively Rather Than Aggressively

aggressivedefensive
If you want to play defensively, you’ve got to think long-term, because aggressive players will burn themselves out quickly. “Aggro” Magic: the Gathering players, for instance, soon run out of cards in hand and have less options to defend themselves. Aggressive Clix players usually wear out their first-string attackers by mid-game, leaving themselves only their second-string attackers and their support crew (if that).

So, a defensive strategy that wins has to have 3 basic prongs:

  • High defenses/support to stay alive long-term
  • Strategies that punish the other player for attacking
  • Good resource management/game control

Defensive Strategy Examples

Magic: the Gathering

  • Life-gain to offset opponent’s direct damage
  • Graveyard recursion to foil any milling or discard
  • High-toughness creatures to both block combat damage and deal a little combat damage of my own
  • Mill, board wipes, discard, targeted destruction, and other minor control elements to stay alive

HeroClix

  • A couple of Medics to heal wounded figures
  • Several sources of Probability Control and Outwit, to reroll dice and get rid of particularly damaging powers and abilities
  • A Mystic or two and some Wildcards, to punish the opponent for attacking me
  • Figures with high defenses (18+), or figures with Energy Shield/Deflection or Combat Reflexes

The Reason I Include Control With High-Defense Strategies

As I have learned from experience, if you focus on nothing but defense, you will get controlled and manipulated into destruction. Black and Blue Magic decks with a lot of control elements will keep a high-defense White deck from doing anything, for instance, while 6 or 7 damage from Vet Icons Superman holding an object will KO any support piece before you can use it.

As a defense player, you have to have a modicum of control included in your strategy, but you don’t have to make it irritating–just a strategically-placed and protected Windborn Muse can be enough to stop aggro, and a Story Circle can prevent even the fastest of Burn decks from hurting you once it’s out. Likewise, using Outwitters and long-range pieces can help your defensive HeroClix team win the day.

Summary

Defense is often discounted in most collectible card and miniatures games, but it’s a key strategy in a long-term game. Sure, if you want a 5-minute win, aggression is still your best way, but if you like longer games with more chances to socialize and more chances to laugh, playing “de” might be your best way to do that.

Building with Wildcards

buildingwithwildcards
As a longtime HeroClix player, I’ve already found a few favorite team abilities (see my post about Mystics here), but I also enjoy passing around such abilities to characters who wouldn’t necessarily have it. Thus, the Wildcard team abilities–any one of the six symbols below means that the piece can share many different team abilities.

Why Wildcards Are Awesome

Wildcards sharing abilities can become game-changing very quickly. For instance, 77-point Spider-Girl can borrow the Mystics team ability from Jason Blood and start damaging her attackers every time they hurt her, too. Borrowing an Avenger’s free move ability increases team mobility if you’ve got a lot of Wildcards to move around, and passing around better attack values courtesy of Bat-Enemy team can make even your second-string Wildcards good for something!

In essence, Wildcards can help round out your team–if you have a lot of ranged S.H.I.E.L.D. pieces, for instance, and you need a little close-combat to help them out, you can easily include a wildcard close-combat piece like Timber Wolf or Iron Fist to give you another person to help you kick up range or damage without being as squishy as your range pieces.

Some Caveats to Remember

  • When selecting team abilities, choose one aggressive or movement TA and one defensive–such as Bat-Enemy and Danger Girl, Avengers and Mystics, or Ultimates and Bat-Ally. That way, you can wildcard to the aggressive TA during your turn, and then wildcard to the defensive one when it’s your opponent’s turn.
  • Choose your team-ability-bearing pieces wisely–make sure they can defend themselves if your opponent tries to attack them first. POGs with TAs are notoriously fragile and shouldn’t be relied on as the sole source of a TA.

Some Aggressive Team Abilities

  • Ultimates, Superman-Ally, Avengers Initiative
  • Ultimate X-Men, 2000 AD
  • Batman-Enemy, Sinister Syndicate
  • S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • HYDRA, Police, Morlocks
  • Masters of Evil
  • Injustice League

Some Defensive Team Abilities

  • Mystics, Arachnos, CrossGen
  • Batman-Ally, Kabuki
  • Defenders, Justice Society of America, Alternate Team Ability Fantastic Four
  • Teen Titans, X-Men
  • Hypertime, Kingdom Come

Some Movement Team Abilities

  • Green Lantern Corps
  • Avengers, Justice League of America, Brotherhood of Mutants, Top Cow
  • Serpent Society

Team Abilities That Aren’t Worth It For Wildcards:

  • Crime Syndicate (easier just to use a Wildcard with Prob naturally on the dial)
  • Superman-Enemy (hard to set up, easy to destroy)
  • Crusades (very situational and doesn’t come up often enough.)
  • Guardians of the Globe (again, very situational.)
  • Suicide Squad (ideally, your Wildcards shouldn’t be dying…easier to use X-Team or Teen Titans for healing)
  • Regular Fantastic Four (doesn’t work when a wildcard dies)

Watch Out for Uncopyable Team Abilities!

TAs like Power Cosmic, Quintessence, and Outsiders can’t be copied by Wildcards–check the Player’s Guide list of Team Abilities before you build a wildcard team, just to make sure your selected team is actually legal!

Try Out Your Own Combos!

The Wildcard team building strategy is all about customization–trying all sorts of Wildcard characters and combos of TAs until you find what you like. Start off by adding a few different Wildcards to your favorite team, and see what happens!

Bad Dice! Bad!

baddicebad
Usually, I have horrible dice rolls while playing HeroClix. Lady Luck, I think, would rather have a good ol’ fashioned hair-pulling scrap in the ladies’ restroom with me than be my friend. Say I need a 5 on my pair of 6-sided dice to succeed–I’ll usually roll a 4. I need anything but “snake eyes?” Guess what I roll.

Why Do the Dice Hate Me? Several Possible Reasons

I’m not sure why I am so prone to bad dice rolls. Sometimes I think it’s how hard I throw the dice, or how tentative I am about rolling them. I tend to go “bowling for Clix figures” if I roll them too hard, or send the dice rolling off the table and away. Thus, I often hold and roll them very, very carefully so that they land just right. Perhaps this extra care is not good for my luck.

Also, I’ve often wondered if it’s the actual temperature of the dice–if the dice are cold to the touch, I have found that they will somehow roll better for me. If I’ve sat there holding them in my hand for a while, they get “hot” and start rolling badly. This might have something to do with the nature and quality of the plastic used to make most of my dice, but I’m not sure. All I know is that I’ve rolled far more double-sixes and single-sixes at the beginning of a game of HeroClix than I do at the end!

How I Try to Fix My Bad Dice Rolls

Many Clix players have posted on a topic about influencing dice, trying to get around their own runs of bad luck playing Clix, so I’m not alone in this. The primary way I get around bad rolls is to build in a lot of Probability Control for my teams, so that if I have a bad roll or two, it doesn’t have to “stick.” My habitually bad dice rolls are the #1 reason I play Destiny, Jason Blood, Jinx, Saint Walker, etc.!

Secondly, I try to roll the dice against something solid, either a box on the table or actually dropping them into a box lid, so I don’t worry so much about damaging figures or dice rolling off the table. (I find it helps if you don’t roll directly across the HeroClix map–those nasty little “hills” and “valleys” made by the map folds get my dice every time, turning a 5 into a 1 in a heartbeat!)

Lastly, I switch dice often (testing out the “cold” versus “hot” dice theory), and about 60% of the time, it works. (It’s probably still a placebo effect, but it just FEELS good to put aside a pair of dice that seem to be malfunctioning!)

I’m not sure if any of these fixes really get around my bad luck or if I’m just staving off my Crit Misses for later (LOL)…only time (and more games) will tell! But for now, it eases my mind just a little so I can get back to playing a good game of Clix. 🙂

How Robin’s Getting Her (HeroClix) Groove Back

gettingclixgrooveback
“Game fatigue” is not a new phenomenon, but I’ve found that it occurs more often in collectible games like HeroClix. As the game evolves with new expansions, new figures, etc., the old standby figures get pushed aside or simply outclassed by the new hot stuff.

HeroClix is definitely no exception to that rule, and it’s one reason I virtually quit playing Clix tournaments for a while. But I’m starting to get back into it…and for more of that story, read on!

Before: No Groove Left

As a largely Casual Clix player, I just wanted to PLAY the game–to play my favorite pieces, which I could combine into many game-winning teams. My teams, made up of little figures with lots of support powers, might not win in 50-minute rounds, but give me about an hour and a half and I could outlast most any opponent. I had more fun when my games with an opponent were a back-and-forth tug-of-war, never knowing until the last few turns who would come out on top–thus, I favored longer games and lots of backup.

Unfortunately, my slower, defensive swarm style didn’t translate well into tournament play. I kept getting beaten by kids running huge, overpowered figures broken out in special powers, or people running almost unbeatable “gimmick” teams. And to add insult to injury, it seemed that tournament/competitive play was all that my new gaming shop friends wanted to do. But they could afford all the new pieces, and I couldn’t…and honestly, I didn’t WANT to resort to buying and playing overpowered figures just to “survive.” Tournaments were simply NOT what I wanted to be involved in, but it seemed to be the only game in town (pun intended).

So I kept trying to play in the tournaments, just to try to keep my hand in the game and to connect with friends, but I only ended up getting angrier and angrier over my losses. I felt outmatched, and soon the game was little more than a frustration engine.

The Breaking Point

Something had to give. I was taking it all too seriously, and I couldn’t seem to stop being angry about the game long enough to have fun. After all, I couldn’t exactly hang out with my friends when I felt ready to throw my hard-earned Clix pieces across the room. So, I finally quit the tournaments, and almost completely quit playing HeroClix casually as well. I got away from it, put aside my pieces I’d worked so hard to collect for myself, and just came to the gaming shop to use the Internet for a couple of months.

I was a lot happier in the short-term (probably a good move for my blood pressure), but after a few months, I was ready to try again. I wasn’t about to step foot back into the tournaments, but I did know what kind of game I wanted–a casual game, the type I had first learned to love back when my boyfriend taught me how to play. (In all the hubbub of quitting HeroClix, I had also temporarily lost that link with him, too, which hurt more than I realized!)

A New Game, a New Outlook

So, one day, I just asked my boyfriend if we could have a true casual game–not a crazy overpowered game full of new figures and special powers, but just a good ol’ classic HeroClix game. He agreed–he wanted to see me have fun, too, and we were both hopeful that I could start afresh.

That first casual game led to a second, and then a third a few days later. He never pushed me about it, but suggested it as something we could possibly do rather than something I absolutely HAD to do. I was starting to enjoy it again, even though I knew he was building less powerful teams to match mine. It was not ideal, but it was better than being shut away from the game entirely.

I began to share possible strategies with him again, and we even began to talk about the metagame, discussing how I could possibly make my old favorites playable amid newer figures. It wasn’t just that I wanted to save money by not buying a ton of new figures; I also wanted to be able to beat the “hot new figures” with my favorite old standards, showing other players that you don’t always have to play overpowered stuff to win.

And, once I started playing some Casual games at the shop again, the craziest thing happened…suddenly, some people became interested in the Casual Clix scene again. They wanted to know more about using support powers, or using figures with no special powers. And best of all, they wanted to play me in one-on-one games outside the tournaments, or even group games. Little by little, the change I had so wanted to see was finally happening–and it had started with me!

Success, a Little at a Time

So this, finally, is how I got my HeroClix groove back:

  • Combining older figures with newer to update teams without having to buy all new pieces
  • Playing strictly casual games rather than trying to win in tournaments
  • Being open to playing casual games rather than just using the Internet at the shop
  • Being willing to learn about new figures and not just relying on old ones

This new approach to Clix is much less competitive, and thus less likely to aggravate my competitive tendencies. It’s also better for building community between all my gaming friends–now, we’re no longer just playing tournaments, but we’re also just enjoying the pieces we have and building teams out of the ones we love to play the most. It might not be as “hardcore,” but then again, I’ve seen what a “hardcore” mentality does to players like me. I much prefer this new outlook on Clix.

Summary

If you’re suffering from “tournament fatigue,” or even “Clix fatigue,” then how about trying something completely different–how about a casual game? Don’t laugh…you might just find yourself getting your HeroClix groove back, too!

You Hurt Me, I Hurt You: The Mystics Team Ability

youhurtmeihurtyou
In HeroClix, most gamers typically gravitate towards high-damage, high-attack pieces, especially the ones that can move and attack in the same turn. Pieces with 11 or 12 attack, 3 or 4 damage, and either Charge, Running Shot, or Hypersonic Speed are the “Most Wanted Clix.”

I am not one of these gamers–in fact, the pieces I choose for my collection could be labeled “second-stringers” at best. If I have a 10 attack showing among my teams, it’s an unusual team for me. Most of my teams are made up of support pieces and a few solid but not overpowered pieces. It’s only when people begin to play against me that they realize those smaller pieces are actually serving another purpose besides attack: they are all Mystics. And they are FAR stronger than my opponents recognize, until it’s too late.

What Is The Mystics Team Ability?

The Mystics team ability (not to be confused with the “Mystical” keyword!) is indicated by any of the following team symbols on a HeroClix figure’s base:


From left:  Mystics, CrossGen, Arachnos

Any of these three symbols, printed on the back of a character’s dial, mean that if an opponent attacks and successfully damages this figure, the attacking figure takes 1 unavoidable damage. It’s a “You hurt me, I hurt you” strategy–very reactive in playstyle, since it depends on the other person making a successful attack.

Mystics In Practice

This might seem counterproductive at first. Why would someone want their own figures to be damaged? Doesn’t that mean you’ll be beaten faster?

Not necessarily! 😀

Run Lots of Support with Mystics

Here’s the primary beauty of the strategy: more often, the people I play against are not running pieces that have Support (the ability to heal a friendly character). I, however, am running one or two pieces with Support (also known as “Medics”). If one of my Mystics pieces takes a wee bit too much damage and is in danger of being KOed, I simply get him or her back to a Medic while some of my other Mystics pieces take over. In a few turns, my hurt Mystic is back on top click, and the opponent’s pieces have likely taken more damage in the meantime, either from a Mystic hit or from actually being attacked.

Run Wildcards with Mystics, Too!

One way I love to run Mystics pieces is to run them with a bunch of Wildcards–a list of Wildcard team symbols follow:


From left:  Spiderman-Ally, B.P.R.D., Minions of Doom, Legion of Superheroes, Calculator, Freedom Phalanx

The reason? Wildcards can copy the Mystics team ability. Suddenly, Young Superman is a Mystic–you deal him damage, you take a damage! Spider-Girl is a Mystic, too–you deal her damage, you take a damage! And so on.

So, if my whole team is full of Mystics such as these, and you don’t have a Support piece, you are in trouble. True, your pieces might deal more damage to mine at first, but I likely have more Wildcard Mystics ready to fill in for the one who’s running back to the Medic. Not only that, but the Wildcard pieces help round out the team with some higher damage and attack, as well as some strong abilities of their own, like Charge, Incapacitate, or my favorite, Super Senses. (I roll a 5 or 6–your attack misses my character. I roll a 1 through 4–my character takes damage, which means yours takes a damage, too. It’s a win-win!)

Important Pieces of Strategy

This team ability works best if you have a lot of small point-value characters rather than a few large point-value characters. Having a Mystic over a hundred points is great, but you’re not going to have a lot of room for support, other Mystics, or Wildcards. My favorite strategy is to actually choose two of the cheaper Mystics (Zatanna Zatara, Jason Blood, Nightshade, etc.) and build my team full of Wildcards and Support from there. That way, I have the Mystics team covered, but I also have room for attacking pieces that will likely take some damage along the way.

Try the Mystics team ability sometime if you’re looking for a different way to win. Sometimes, an opponent’s successful attack can work against them!

Competitive or Casual?

competitiveorcasual
This is one of the most salient questions in all kinds of gaming, not just the nerdy kind with dice, but even video games and sports: do you play competitively or casually?

The question may seem to be a no-brainer for some people–of course you play competitively. What other reason would there be to play, except to win and learn how to win more? Once you remove the competition aspect from a game, a lot of the fun of it leaches out, and it becomes a mere distraction instead of something you can rationalize spending time on.

But, for others, the competitive angle actually eats away at the heart of what made the game popular in the first place: it’s fun. You know, fun? What we used to have playing this game before it became a nail-biting, tooth-grinding, money-gobbling event? For that matter, when a game is not played casually anymore, is it even a game anymore?

Where I’m Coming From

I’m mainly coming from a background of collectible card gaming and miniatures gaming with this article, but you can see elements of these same two schools of thought clashing in the worlds of sports, races, card games like poker, etc. In any type of game, it seems, you are always going to have the people who absolutely have to be the best at every game they play, and the people who play it to have fun with friends and socialize rather than win.

But sadly, the competitive type tends to quash out the casual type when they are brought together, like hunters shooting bald eagles–the casual players are already endangered due to everything in life having to be a competition in this day and age. Once the competitive players start sucking the life and fun out of a game by making it all serious, the casual players eventually stop trying to play. It’s no fun sitting across the table or standing across the court or field from someone who acts like every missed roll or every missed play is a nail in their coffin.

Yes, You Can Be TOO Competitive

I personally am competitive in my heart, but I hate the way that competitiveness transforms me when I play a game. Suddenly, I have to win, I have to be the best, because I’m such a perfectionist I can’t stand to lose. It really drains the fun out of the game for me, and it’s not fun for my opponent to watch me disintegrate into wordless anger every time the dice don’t roll my way. Thus, I’ve largely gone toward casual gaming, to take some of the intense pressure off and to try to train myself to have fun again.

One thing I’ve noticed, however, in my odyssey away from competitive gaming, is how much competitive gamers look down on casual gamers. To them, we are an inferior breed, weaker players, not really even worth “real” players’ time, because we don’t take the game as seriously. Having been very competitive before, I understand why they get like this–sometimes, it feels like the whole world is staked on your next card, your next shot at the basket. But when a game becomes that important to you, hasn’t it become less of a hobby and more of an addiction?

When Games Are No Longer Fun…Re-Examine Yourself

I don’t intend to solve this quandary in one blog post, but I did want to bring this to people’s attention. Whether you play games just to have fun or you play them to win, if you’re happy doing it, then you’re doing something right. The only time I worry is when it seems that games are no longer fun and they are instead things that you have to win at to be happy. Then, I believe, competition has crossed the line into obsession.

HeroClix

heroclix
HeroClix is best described as “chess with comic-book characters”–within this game, you get to play your favorite characters in a self-created team, facing them off against your opponent’s team of characters to see which team comes out on top!

Many of the most popular Marvel and DC characters appear as models in the game already, as seen below (top left to bottom right: Captain America, Superman, Green Lantern, Black Widow, Incredible Hulk, Batman). However, that’s not all there is to know about HeroClix–read on to find out more!

captainamerica superman
greenlantern blackwidow
hulk batman

Basic Gameplay

To play HeroClix, you start out with a point total, say, 300 points. Every HeroClix figure is worth a certain number of points; to build a working team, you select heroes whose point values are less than or equal to the chosen game total when added together. (If the combined points of all your chosen heroes are more than the point total, you have to reformulate your team.) But as long as you stay within the point total, any type and combination of figures is open to you.

See example below, drawn from my own collection of figures:

Non-Working HeroClix Team for 300-Point Game Working HeroClix Team for 300-Point Game
Wonder Woman (127 points)
Wonder Girl (87 points)
Amazon (50 points)
Scarlet Witch (62 points)
Total: 326 points
Wonder Woman (127 points)
Wonder Girl (87 points)
Amazon (50 points)
Elektra (36 points)
Total: 300 points

I wrote up an even more detailed article about HeroClix gameplay on my “How to Play Clix” page.

Choosing Characters Based on Powers and Abilities

Different characters are gifted with different abilities–for instance, Spiderman’s amazing wall-crawling and web-swinging abilities translate into the HeroClix ability called “Leap/Climb,” and the Flash’s lightning-fast movement translates into “Hypersonic Speed.” Hulk’s superpowered muscles grant him “Super Strength,” and Captain America gets “Energy Shield/Deflection” courtesy of his iconic shield.

These abilities are denoted by different colors printed on the base of each character’s figure. (The base of the figure is called a “dial” because it can turn to show differing abilities as the figure takes damage.) Here are my common-sense descriptions of all the powers and abilities in the game thus far.

Choosing Characters Based on Their Stats

Characters also have numbers printed on their dials, which show how strong they are in combat. For instance, the 127-point Wonder Woman I mentioned earlier starts out with 10 movement, 10 attack, 17 defense, and 5 damage–this means she can travel up to 10 spaces on a HeroClix map in one turn, and that when she attacks another character, she adds 10 to whatever number you roll on your two six-sided dice. That 17 defense means that whenever another character attacks her, they can’t damage her unless their attack number plus the number that appears on the dice equals or beats 17. And that 5 damage? If she successfully attacks another character, that character’s dial is clicked down 5 times. Considering that all characters’ dials have space for only 12 clicks on them, that’s a LOT of damage!

However, not all characters need high stats to be great at what they do. I wrote up a little bit about Experienced Destiny as an example of how low stats don’t automatically mean a bad Clix figure. Sometimes you need figures with “low” stats to be more tactical figures in your strategy!

Putting Together Your Team and Its Strategy

A large part of Clix is building a strategy that makes sense for you. Some people like to play characters that run into the fray and smash things up; others like to play characters who stand at a distance and shoot. Some players choose to take higher risks and start the battle sooner; others like to play slowly and subtly, waiting for an opponent to fall into their trap. Some players choose just a few very strong characters with high point values to make up their team; others (like me) choose to have many weaker, smaller-point-value characters which together overpower opponents with sheer numbers.

Whatever abilities, characters, and gameplay style you find yourself drawn to, you can build successful teams. Give HeroClix a try with your friends–play a few casual games. Who knows, you might run across a killer combination of figures that no one ever thought of before!

To Learn More about HeroClix

Official Site: HeroClix.com
Excellent HeroClix Forums: HCRealms
My HeroClix help pages: HeroClix @ The Gamer’s Repose