Tag Archives: strategy

Star Wars Minis: A Great Game, And Yet…

Having played miniatures games for the last 5 years, I do enjoy occasionally playing Star Wars Minis as well as a good game of Clix. And yet, somehow, my Clix always get played with just a little more.

Okay, I lied–I play Clix a LOT more than Star Wars Minis, and it’s not just because the game isn’t being produced or supported anymore. I like the game okay, but…there are some definite structural flaws, which make gameplay a lot less fun. For example:

#1: The Game Suffers from the “Rich Kid Effect”

“Rich Kid Effect”: The more money you’re willing to drop on the game, the better items you get.

Almost without fail, the most monetarily expensive SWMinis pieces are the best in the game. If you don’t have a lot of money, you’re not going to be able to get hold of 13 and 14 attacks, 21 or 22 defenses, and tons of Force Powers–it’s just not going to happen. Thus, “rich kid” players win more tournaments not because they’re skilled, but because they can simply afford “better” and “stronger” pieces.

I don’t know about you, but going into a game knowing that I’m probably going to lose because I can’t afford big-money pieces isn’t much of an incentive to play. Comparatively speaking, you can find excellent Clix pieces for cheaper and still win with them against new and more expensive pieces–it’s more about the player’s skill than their paycheck.

#2: All You Have to Do is Pick Big Point Value Pieces to Win

Again, almost without fail, figures with a higher point value almost automatically have better combat values. Figures like Emperor Palpatine, Sith Lord (62 pts, 130 HP, 20 Def, 15 Atk), Yoda, Jedi Master (64 pts, 140 HP, 21 Def, 14 Atk), or Exar Kun (84 pts, 180 HP, 23 Def, 19 Atk) are way expensive for playing in an environment where a typical game limits your team size to 100 points, but they are very much worth it. They just generally have better stats (and powers) than your lower-point-value characters, which means they stand up better in battle and win more. (Consider that lower-point-value figures have attacks of 8-10 and defenses of 16-18, and you see what I mean by “bigger is better.”)

Clix suffers from this a little bit, especially with “power creep” (figures’ powers and stats gradually increasing with every set release). But at least there are some 50-point Clix pieces who can still rip open a 250-point piece. In SWMinis, you either play big or go home, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for creative army building.

#3: Factions from the Movies Have Better Pieces

If you’re a SWMinis fan playing Rebels or Sith, you’ve pretty much got it made. If you’re a SWMinis fan and want to play other factions like Mandalorians, Old Republic, Separatist, or Yuuzhan Vong, you might as well not bother playing tournaments, or even casual.

Why? Because in general, the “popular” factions have better powers and stats than the “non-popular” factions (and by “popular” I mean “made popular by the movies”). There is a definite power imbalance between the factions, which makes it frustrating to try playing different groups. Why bother, when you’re going to be outmatched for trying something unusual?

Now, I will admit that some of the more-supported team symbols and abilities in Clix (such as Superman-Ally, Batman-Ally, X-Men, and Power Cosmic) get more stuff to do in-game. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t win with a team full of Mystics, 2000 A.D. people, or Suicide Squad members. Teams and their symbols are a little more balanced in Clix, and depend more on the player’s skill than his/her chosen faction.

#4: Many of the Rulings Leave You Scratching Your Head

As a Clix player, some of the differing movement rules for SWMinis made me frustrated. What do you MEAN, diagonal movements cost twice as much as straight movements? What do you MEAN, I can’t shoot past this corner? Some of the rules between other minis games and SWMinis differ in such nitpicky ways that it’s hard to remember (and even harder to reason out WHY they made this difference). I even created a page about all these rules weirdnesses on my gaming site, just so I could remember better!

When rulings just flat don’t make sense, or they are different in such small ways that it’s almost ridiculous, it can stop people from enjoying the game. You spend half the time trying to figure out if a particular strategic move is legal in SWMinis, or if it’s legal in every other minis game BUT SWMinis. Not conducive to good casual or tournament play, sadly.


While I enjoy breaking out my old favorite SWMinis pieces on occasion, the flaws I’ve detailed above are definite roadblocks to enjoying the game more. With the game pretty much being dead and abandoned, it’s likely I’m one of the only ones left who cares about this issue, but I’d love to see someone fix or at least address these major game flaws. After all, this could be one of the biggest tie-ins to the Star Wars franchise…if it had a little better-functioning game environment.

HeroClix & Fashion

For me, shopping for clothing and shopping for Clix are very similar. While it may be strange to think of shopping for Clix in the same mindset as shopping for fashion, I think the two worlds have a lot in common. For one thing, the tournament world is a lot like the runways!

As a Clix player, I often use nearly identical guidelines to trading and buying Clix as I do in buying clothing and accessories. Spending Clix “points” in building a team is, of course, not the same as spending real-world money to put together an outfit, but the result is often the same: a strong whole made up of many parts, a set of pieces that run well together.

The following 3 tips are geared toward building stronger teams and gathering more functional pieces for your collection…with fashion metaphors illustrating. Hear me out–this is actually a fairly apt connection!

Clix & Fashion Tip #1: The Cheaper Points It Is, The Better

There’s a reason I chiefly shop clearance racks and discount stores when shopping for fashion–I’m looking for the kind of fashion I want at the lowest prices. I don’t care about following the “latest trends” or having an outfit that has a big brand name stamped all over it. Instead, I prefer to have cheaper clothing that will still look good while combined with my existing collection’s pieces.

Case in point: I went to a discount store about a year ago and found a short-sleeved black shrug (like a shortened sweater or coat) for about $10. It went with just about every nice sleeveless top and dress I owned, so I bought it. A few months later, I spotted a similar black shrug being sold for $50 at a department store–I just chuckled and walked by.

I look at Clix the same way–I select pieces based on their point value as much as their abilities. Why spend 50 points on a Probability Control piece, when I have a perfectly good Rookie Destiny that’s 20 points? Anywhere you can save points can help you have more points left over to select other pieces.

This is why I have an assortment of Paramedics (8, 10, and 12 points, respectively) and Destinies (20, 23, and 26 points), just like I have an assortment of cheap tank tops and shrugs–they are cheap but efficient ways to upgrade my selected team (or my selected outfit).

Clix & Fashion Tip #2: Spend the Points on Long-Term Usage, Not Short-Term Trends

Every season the fashion world comes out with flashy, fragile pieces that don’t seem to be appropriate for any event, not even on a Las Vegas stage. Mostly, I ignore these and choose more wearable, neutral or modest pieces that are made of better material and will last longer.

Case in point: I shopped at a shoe store with a friend about two years ago and had a choice between a couple of pairs of ballet flats (they look like ballet slippers but have a stronger sole). One pair was bright, bright red and shiny, the other a pale, less shiny gold-tone with a small bow on the top. Because the red pair felt more constrictive on my feet, I chose the gold pair (even though they were a little more expensive), while my friend picked the red pair.

Though I wear my pale gold ballet flats for a lot of different events (from formal weddings all the way down to a trip to Walmart if I feel like), my friend ended up not really sure where or when to wear her bright-red flats after a while. They seemed too loud for everyday wear, but didn’t really go with anything besides a dress of the same color, or with a couple neutral pieces. They were awesome shoes, but once the trend faded…well, they had lost some of their patent-leather luster.

Similarly, I evaluate Clix for long-term quality rather than just cheap flashes in the pan. The new hot pieces in Clix tournaments do not interest me unless I see that they are truly quality pieces that would fit well in my collection. If the trendy new piece is only good in certain situations (just like the red ballet flats are only wearable with certain other colors), then why spend the points on them, when I can use a piece that serves its function better and maybe even multitasks in battle?

Clix & Fashion Tip #3: Sometimes You Just Have to Grin and Bear a Higher Point Cost

Occasionally, to get the correct fit, right color, and long-wearing fabric, you have to pay a little more than you’d like to otherwise. Such is shopping for quality pieces!

I’m reminded of the suit jacket I ended up having to buy at a specialty store, because of my broad shoulders and rather well-endowed chest. Though the jacket ended up being nearly 90 bucks, I have since been able to wear it to job interviews, workplaces, nice dinner events, and lots of other dressy places for the last five years. It’s served me well and shows no signs of wear like a cheaper jacket would have by now.

The same thing happens in Clix sometimes; you end up liking a piece but have a hard time fitting it into your teams because it’s just a wee bit too expensive in terms of point cost. But if it’s a worthwhile piece and would make your team a lot more potent in battle, it may be worth trimming down point costs on your other pieces to be able to fit that expensive-but-worthy piece in.

For instance, I would rather invest the 95 points in Saint Walker, for instance, than to spend a total of 92 points on 1 Rookie Destiny, 2 Experienced Destinies, and 1 LE Destiny. Reason? I know that Saint Walker can stand up to more pain in battle, and has both his Prob-like Trait as well as natural Prob. As much as I love playing Destiny, I know that if she’s hit with 4 damage, she’s gone, leaving me with one less Probber. Though that huge 95-point investment on a single figure hits me right in the gut, I know it will pay off in the long term.


Though this might be a funny way to think about building up your Clix collection and constructing teams, it’s an interesting and playful connection. Who knows, with these tips, your own teams might be walking the runways at your next tournament!

Resident Evil: Nightmare

The most recent expansion for the Resident Evil Deck Building Game is called Nightmare, and for good reason–this time around, the characters, weapons, and even some of the actions are a little more cutthroat, a little more battle-hardened.

Below is a selective list of what I consider to be the best new cards out of the Nightmare expansion–lots of new characters, Actions, Weapons, and even Mansion Items and Events! Check them out; I think you’ll find the Nightmare box to be a worthwhile investment if you’re playing the Resident Evil DBG.

Useful New Characters (And Intriguing New Visions of Old Characters)

The newest Ada rewards you for taking damage at level 1, and sloughs off death at level 2–but good luck getting to 2 if you’ve been taking damage to set off her level 1 ability!

The newest Chris only has one level ability, but it’s fairly good–get a damage boost if the zombie he’s fighting has 40 or more health. Always good for amping up a 50-damage weapon to defeat Nemesis (60 health).

The newest Leon, at level 1, can mimic the Action card “Parting Ways” automatically when he kills a zombie. At level 2, whenever you Gain a card (whenever you Buy it, basically), you can draw a card. Better than you think!

Luis’ level 1 ability is rather opaque and unhelpful, but his level 2 helps you put cards that you’ve Discarded back on the bottom of the deck (and thus, playable much faster). With his level 2 activated, you should never run out of a deck again!

This guy is a beast. You can buy weapons for cheaper right away, and at level 2, you deal more damage when you’re wielding weapons of different types. Even giving him a basic Pistol and a Knife means you’re doing 25 damage!

Best New Weapons

This simple pistol, doing 10 damage, can really help you in early turns by doing more damage for less ammo investment, but the +1 card and +1 action can be helpful even late-game.

Like the Silver Ghost (of which the Punisher is the Special Weapon in the stack), this weapon does just as much damage as its ammo investment, but it also gives you a free Mansion Foyer (+2 cards) and an extra Action. VERY fun–you can easily build chains of Actions to get major card advantage, better weapons, etc.

A good weapon for other-player control as well as for a good bit of damage. 30 damage may seem a little low, but it’s strictly better than the Pump-Action Shotgun, and you also get to make another player discard a card.

Since this is the Special Weapon in the Single-Shot Rifle stack, the Special Ops Rifle does the regular weapon’s effect plus a little more–it makes all other players discard one card from their hands when you explore. Now just choose Albert Wesker as your Character and you have the game under your (diabolical) control.

Paying 30 ammo for 20 damage isn’t fun–until you see that this gun gives you +20 gold for Exploring with it. Save your Buy until after you Explore, and you can get something that’s at least worth 50 gold (the 30 ammo/gold you paid for Exploring plus 20 gold from the weapon itself).

You know what you do with this Special Weapon, right? Buy every Assault Machine Gun, Russian Assault Rifle, and Machine Pistol in sight, and HAVE FUN. Heehee 😀

The Broken Butterfly rewards you for having more cards in your Inventory, just as the Flamethrower rewards you for having more cards in your Discard Pile. Build accordingly, and you could have a 60-damage weapon for only a 40-ammo investment!

Finally, a grenade that’s worth the purchase! It doesn’t damage other Players, and it adds a sweet no-ammo-investment, 20-point damage boost to whatever you’re Exploring with. (And think about using this with the Base Set’s Jill Valentine, a.k.a. “She of Many Explosives.” Mwahaha.)

Fun New Actions

This is an excellent way to boost up one of your weapons, especially if you’re already built your deck for a Flamethrower strategy. (This is the official corrected version of the card, by the way–the actual physical card from the Nightmare box read “+1 ammo”, but it’s really supposed to be “+20 ammo”, which makes a whole lot more sense.)

If you’ve built up a larger Inventory (and especially if you’re already running the Broken Butterfly weapon strategy), this card is hilarious. Suddenly get +50 ammo and gold for just having 10 cards remaining in your deck? OKAY! This is great with Luis Sera’s level 2 ability (and of course, the extra Action is icing on the cake. :D).

I’m sensing a theme of “rewarding those who build bigger Inventories”. Card advantage, especially for larger Inventories, is priceless–and look, you get another Action along with it! Well worth the 70 gold to buy.

To complete your Wesker-esque strategy, pick up this little beauty and have the entire table of players hating you in no time. Being able to choose an Action from someone else’s hand, apply it twice to yourself, and then take it out of their hand for the time being? This is just as annoying (and good) as Master of Unlocking.

Let’s see, +2 Actions, and you can move up to 2 cards back from your Inventory (or anyone else’s) from Discard. They finally made a Reload that’s not just for Weapons! 😀 Also, you can play this offensively against someone who’s running a Flamethrower strategy to reduce their damage output. 🙂

Awesome New Mansion Items and Events

An item you’ll love to run across, even if it does technically waste your firepower. Hidden Treasure is reason enough to save your Buys until after you Explore, just in case–the +30 gold and +1 Buy is like a free trip to the Merchant.

Another item that boosts you tremendously! When you hit the Map, you can attach it to your character and keep it as long as you want, until you feel the need for +3 cards in your hand and +20 Gold to Buy something with.

I love this thing–it gives the player with the lowest number of Decorations (roughly, zombie kills) a chance to catch back up, by instantly killing whatever Infected zombie is directly below this card in the Mansion. (Since I usually reserve my Exploring/zombie-killing for the second half of the game, due to deck-building, I often lag behind in Decorations till close to the end of the game, so this event is HAPPY FUN TIME for me. :D) You can even instantly kill the boss zombie and end the game with this little event!

For More Info

Resident Evil DBG Official Site
Resident Evil DBG: Nightmare @ BoardGameGeek

Images were mostly obtained from scans of my awesome boyfriend’s Nightmare box set, since I couldn’t find large enough images elsewhere. A few cards, though, came from the BoardGameGeek website, and the corrected Lonewolf card came from the official game page.

A Plastic Swarm: A Different Way to Play HeroClix

Most of my opponents are very surprised if I pull out a more-than-75-point figure to play; they know me well, and know that most of my collection is made up of figures costing less than 50 points (and even many less than 30).

In a way, I pride myself on having little figures; I know that given the opportunity, all those little figures can be multiple Davids against their big 200-point Goliaths. I prefer to play a strategy called “swarm” in HeroClix, running groups of many figures rather than running two or three figures. In a typical 300-point game, I can often fit 6 to 8 characters in; you don’t want to see how crowded my start area can get when I play 600 points and above. 😛

The Benefits of a Swarm Team

Having been drawn to this strategy since I began learning Clix in 2007, I can say that there are several strengths to running a larger team of figures, such as the following:

  • Opponents using a smaller number of figures may have less maneuverability, because of adjacency rules (everywhere they step, they’re beside an opposing figure)
  • Opponents may not know which piece to attack first, because there are too many targets
  • You don’t have to push anybody to move unless you just want to–you can move fresh pieces every turn and allow the other ones to rest
  • Strategy allows you to cover more of the board, especially with ranged characters
  • Also allows hurt pieces to drop back toward any available Medic and get healed, while your front line of defense stays solid

I find that using many little pieces gives more team-building versatility, as well. For instance, I can pick characters that are basically “one-trick ponies,” such as Destiny, Night Nurse, Abbey Chase, Harley Quinn, etc., who give me first-click access to support powers without needing to risk them in battle. Not only that, I can pick multiple figures who do basically the same thing, so that if one gets hurt and needs to drop back toward good ol’ Night Nurse, there’s another one waiting in the wings to take over. (Multiple iterations of Cheetah and Shi for the win.)

Swarm teams allow for this kind of redundancy and long-game protection a little better than beatstick teams do. Playing a beatstick team (a small number of large-point-value pieces) always makes me feel like I’m wearing a hospital gown–no coverage where I need it most, if you get my drift. If rolls go badly and worst comes to worst, where is my support squad? Not available on such a small team. Swarm teams allow for better team cohesion and complex, subtle strategy.

A good analogy is a large musical group like a choir, versus a small group of soloists. If one of the choir members gets sick right before showtime, the choir can perform without that person if necessary, and the show is not affected. But if one of only four soloists gets sick before showtime, then the show is going to be delayed until that performer can get on their feet again, because the show will be very different with only three voices. Swarm teams are like choirs–they work together and cover for each other’s mistakes and problems much better than small groups.


But I will admit, swarm teams are not the strongest option out there. These chief weaknesses come to mind:

  • Smaller-point-value pieces have shorter dials, can’t take as much damage
  • Swarm teams can get too spread out across the map very easily, leading to easy pick-off kills by a beatstick team
  • Smaller pieces have generally lower attack and damage values–may not be able to hurt larger pieces

In general, playing a swarm team that’s just combat and no support is about as bad as playing a beatstick team with no support–it’s folly. Making a swarm team practically necessitates the use of Probability Control, Outwit, Support, Perplex, and Telekinesis, because your figures need that support. You need that Outwit to get rid of Superman’s Impervious; you’ll need that Prob to reroll that one-off on Hulk, or Perplex to increase the chance of a hit. (And if Hulk manages to hit you, you’ll need TK to pull your wounded piece out of combat, and Support to get it back at least closer to top click. LOL)

But a swarm team with support that plays a little more closely together (without blocking each other’s lines of fire) can overcome these weaknesses, with a little bit more thought and planning. That 8 attack can be overcome by 2 shots of Perplex, a dose of Outwit, and a Prob waiting on backup; that 15 defense can be boosted by a friendly’s 18 defense with Defend. You just have to figure out how to use each piece’s strengths all together.

You also don’t want to space out a swarm team too much. Too far apart on the map, and they can’t help each other with support powers like Outwit, Perplex, and Prob, and they can’t run back as easily to the Support character (or get TKed back to the Medic, for that matter). Beatstick teams can spread out a little more easily since they have longer dials and better powers–don’t make the mistake of keeping all your support squad too far away from your main combat, or engaging your opponent in two separate combat zones. Keep it focused.


If you like winning in unconventional ways, or just want to try something new and more tactical, a swarm team is a great strategy–it’s customizable and fun for theme teams as well as non-theme teams, and for certain, it allows you to simply outgun or out-combat your opponent. Build a team with some small-point support pieces, along with some cheap and good combat characters, and watch your swarm take the field!

Funniest Game Reversal Ever: “Prevent All Combat Damage”

From the first time I played a Magic game, I enjoyed running Fog, Holy Day, and Darkness. Why?

Because it is hilarious to watch someone swing all out for tons of combat damage and refute it all with one green, white, or black mana. The “prevent all combat damage” line has saved me time and again from certain doom, leaving me with just one turn to come back from the brink–and sometimes, that one turn is all I need.

I really enjoy running damage prevention and have made it a large part of my “style” in Magic: the Gathering. Since I run a lot of Green and White, I came across Fog and Holy Day early in my M:TG career (I only later found Darkness when I tried my hand at building a Black/White deck), and soon included at least two copies in every deck I built because I found it to be so useful.

In my humble opinion as an M:TG player, there are 3 reasons why running “prevent all combat damage” is an excellent choice for a Green, White, or Black deck.

Reason #1: Protection

When you run a longer-game deck (like most of the decks I build for casual play), stalling cards like Fog, Holy Day, and Darkness allow you to last one or two more turns so your deck can have a chance to go off. Especially when you’re playing against hyper-aggressive creature combat decks, these cards can provide you with one more turn to draw a Wrath of God/Day of Judgment, two more turns to put into play a Story Circle, or a turn to draw that last combo piece you’re missing.

Knowing I have a damage-prevention card in my hand is like a safety net or security blanket. I know that if all else fails and I’m about to lose this turn, I can possibly stave it off with one mana.

Reason #2: Mind Games

Imagine this scenario: I pretend to be weak and unable to play anything of import (except for leaving one green, white, or black mana open). Then, the hyper-aggressive opponent grows overconfident and strikes with full force, tapping all his/her creatures for combat. I play Fog/Holy Day/Darkness, and their full-strength strike is negated. Next turn, I counter-attack with nearly all my forces (I say “nearly” because I want to be able to block next time around), because in their haste to kill me, they left themselves completely undefended. Thus, I succeed in knocking their life points down by a good chunk.

Preventing all combat damage allows for these mind games, because you do look incapable and cornered, until they swing for lots of damage and you tap your last remaining land. (My boyfriend knows this very well now, and knows what I’m about to do when that last land gets tapped…LOL)

You can also leave one land untapped and one card in hand to fake an opponent out, so that they think you have a Fog/Holy Day/Darkness in hand when you really don’t. Believe me, it can work; it’s a psych-out move just like playing the actual card can be.

Reason #3: Board Control

I will admit, “preventing all combat damage” by itself is a stopgap move, a way to last just a little longer till your deck goes off. But if you add an Isochron Scepter…

…it becomes a board-control move. Suddenly, just by leaving 2 mana sources available every turn, you have a constant source of damage prevention. It may not completely save you against direct-damage decks, but for creature-combat decks, this reads “THE END.” Only your own player error or a good Disenchant/Shatter/Naturalize can wreck this.

I find this to be an excellent stall maneuver–with this combo, I no longer have to worry about combat damage, and I can focus on gaining back whatever life I lost before this combo hit the table. I can also frustrate the opponent and possibly force some player errors that wouldn’t normally have happened under regular conditions.

(Frustrating the opponent with a Teflon life total is just as much “board control” as it is “mind games;” you are subtly influencing how they play what they play, and as irritated as life-gain and damage prevention makes some players, they’re bound to start making mistakes. As the stall player, you can capitalize on that weakness as if it were a card on the field.)

Why Is This Funny?

Because it’s a less-expected way to win. Most M:TG players win by blatant control in-game, huge amounts of damage, or tricky combos; this, by contrast, involves subtle control/manipulation tactics outside the game, resistance to said damage, and simple but effective combos.

And because it’s unexpected, one can eke out a win, proving that ingenuity can triumph where brute force and “doing what everyone else does to win” doesn’t always work. I don’t know about you, but I find it hilarious and awesome when the perceived “underdog” wins…especially when that underdog is me. 😛

Bruce Wayne Rocks!

A couple of weeks ago, I did an article about all the Alter Ego figures available in HeroClix to date. What I didn’t share with you is just how much utility you can get out of one of the figures in particular: Bruce Wayne, alter ego of Batman, from the HeroClix set Brave and the Bold.

Why Does He Rock?

Low Point Cost

He is 48 points, which in the current Modern Age environment is fairly cheap. He’s also fairly cheap considering Golden Age pieces of a similar type. It’s not easy to get an Outwit piece that can defend itself under 50 points.

Excellent Unmodified Combat Values

10 attack and 17 defense are both highly valuable in any Clix environment these days. This makes Bruce Wayne not only an inexpensive figure to run on a team, but an inexpensive figure that can hold his own, whether that’s deflecting a hit or making an attack of his own.

Useful Combat Abilities

Though he has no natural attack or speed powers, his Combat Reflexes and Outwit make him eminently playable. Outwit makes him useful for taking down overpowered beatsticks; Combat Reflexes protects him even more against close combat attacks.

Good Keywords

For Clix players who like to use keywords to build theme teams, Bruce Wayne gives you Outwit, Combat Reflexes, 10 attack and 17 defense for Celebrity, Gotham City, and Trinity teams. (Gotham City teams already have their fair share of options of Outwit and 10 attack, but Celebrity and Trinity teams can benefit greatly.)


He has no range and no team symbol (not even Batman-Ally). Nor does he live very long–if he takes 4 damage, he’s out of the game. Plus, he has lower movement than some would like.

…But come on, he’s the Batman! Who cares whether he has range or not, or has a long dial. For 48 points, he’s one of the best cheap sources of combat-ready Outwit in the game.

If you don’t have a good source of cheap Outwit in your Clix box already, I definitely recommend this Alter Ego piece for your collection. You might scoff–but then again, you might laugh when Bruce Wayne makes it possible to hit Superman for 5 damage. 🙂

David King and Jack Krauser: Brains and Brawn

In the Resident Evil: Deck Building Game world, there are plenty of characters to choose from, and hundreds of ways for you to play them in Partner mode.

Recently, while preparing for a game, I was dealt two random characters…and I stumbled across a combination that is surprisingly awesome (and hilarious) to play. It involves characters you wouldn’t think would be all that great, and they aren’t–by themselves. But together, they have the potential to rock any boss in the Mansion.

The Brawn: Jack Krauser

One of the more basic characters to play comes from the first game box:

This is Jack Krauser, and he’s pretty much just a Knife guy. You get Knives for free once you get 1 Decoration, and at 7 Decorations, you add 5 damage to each Knife you play before you Explore the Mansion.

There aren’t too many frills here. You get a few Knives, you explore the Mansion, you kill a Zombie, you get more Knives, you Explore some more, rinse & repeat till game is over.

It can be hard to ramp up damage with Krauser, because he deals with Knives that are only dealing 5-10 damage each (excepting the Survival Knife, which does more and has the special effect of giving all Knives +5 damage). Thus, why he’s not often used except as a Partner (and only then when you have to).

The Brains: David King

For a while, Krauser was the only character who really specialized in Knives, and Knives remained an unpopular weapon type. Then, from the Outbreak set came David King.

David’s Level 1 ability, gained after 2 Decorations, is interesting–fun to use with a Pump-Action Shotgun to gain 2 Explores without having to actually put down the 40 Ammo needed to use the gun, for instance. (It’s also fun with many of the special weapons, like the Burst-Fire Handgun, the Survival Knife, the Signature Special, etc.)

But it’s his Level 2, gained at 6 Decorations, which is the fun one for this scenario. When you play a Knife, you can get a Knife from your Discard Pile. So, if you play 4 Knives this turn, you can get up to 4 Knives from your Discard Pile…and you can use them again to Explore the Mansion, arming you with up to 8 Knives instead of just 4.

(Images from BandaiCG.com)

The Two Together

Separately, Jack Krauser and David King are passable characters to play, nothing world-rending, but okay. Together? …Mwahaha. 🙂

Jack Krauser’s Knife-gaining ability and damage boost with Knives is great, but both abilities fluctuate too much per turn–one turn you get a handful of Knives, and the next turn…well, you may not. David King’s Level 2 ability lets you get back the Knives you used last turn, effectively Dumpster-diving for extra damage.

David King’s natural affinity for Knives and for putting new text on Weapons is great, but it doesn’t really work well on its own–there’s no damage boost. With Jack Krauser as his partner, King is suddenly a powerhouse, getting back multiple Knives a turn (which have the potential to do 10 damage apiece!).

Maximizing the Knife-Recycling Strategy

  • Incorporate lots of card draw, like Umbrella Corporation, Fierce Battle, and Mansion Foyer.
  • Trash out all Weapons that aren’t Knives and don’t have special effect text.
  • Remember to try to get Special Weapons if you want to be able to use David King’s first ability to its fullest.
  • Once you’re finished buying stuff for your deck, Trash out the Ammo/Gold, preferably using Shattered Memories so that your unnecessary Actions get Trashed out, too.
  • Don’t forget, once Krauser hits Level 1, to Gain a Knife every turn. David King can use that Gained Knife once he hits level 2–he can pull it back from Discard Pile to play!
  • Use Deadly Aim or Desperate Escape for boosting damage to all Knives; Deadly Aim costs less, but Desperate Escape doesn’t take up your Action for the turn.
  • Make sure to get the Survival Knife (the Special Knife weapon). You can Discard the Survival Knife with David King’s level 1 ability, giving another Knife its special ability, and then pull it back into play with his level 2 ability when you play another Knife. You’ll be getting 2 Survival Knives for the price of 1!


Try this strategy out in the Resident Evil DBG the next chance you get. I guarantee you’ll be laughing out loud with how much damage those “little” Knives can do when in the hands of King and Krauser!

Sometimes, the Alter Egos are All You Need

Recently, the Alter Ego mechanic has been introduced to HeroClix. Now you can get Superman and Batman both for 48 points, or spring in Wonder Woman for 32 points, etc. Admittedly, you don’t get the figures at their absolute best, but it provides you a cheaper way to get the bigger figures on your team.

But what if you could care less about getting the bigger figures? For those of us who play swarm and support strategies, Alter Egos provide an infusion of small-point-value figures that are still combat-capable.

To me, the Alter Egos of today match up well with the Golden-Age era, little swarm figures of yesterday…which is why I’m writing this article. Sometimes, you don’t even NEED to pull in Batman or Wonder Woman, or Etrigan, or even Spiderman or Hulk. Sometimes, Bruce Banner, Diana Prince, Jason Blood, and Bruce Wayne can handle it all on their own.

The images used in this article came from the HCRealms Units page, a wonderful resource for Clix players to find figures and build teams. They also provide a preview for new sets coming out, so checking this page will keep you updated on the game. Just search under “Rank” for “Alter Ego,” and a full list will come up.

What’s the Special Power on Speed for Most of These These Figures?

That is the Alter Ego power–it is almost always on movement, and usually occurs on the last two or three clicks of the character’s living dial.

How are You Judging These Pieces?

I judge from my perspective as a Clix player. I do not play larger-point-value figures as a general rule, so I’m liable to see smaller figures as more playable. I also love supportive powers (like Prob, Telekinesis, Perplex, Outwit, and Support itself), so I gravitate toward small, one-trick-pony pieces that have these powers.

Lastly, I don’t play theme teams much at all (too restrictive), so I look at pieces solely for their “toolbox” value. I always ask, “What abilities can they bring to the table, and how much do I have to pay for it?”

Worthy AE Pieces

Ben Reilly

Why?: Wildcard team ability for 38 points? OKAY! And how about Combat Reflexes that gives him 19 defense up close? SURE! (He might not be all that combat-capable, but I would SO use him on a Wildcard Mystics or Wildcard Bat-team setup.)

Bruce Banner

Why?: The Perplex and Energy Shield is gravy, but the special powers on attack and defense are crazy good. The attack power is Incapacitate with an attack stat boost if you’re trying to Incap a figure with 4 or more damage. The defense is an automatic Alter Ego transformation if he takes 2 or more damage and reveals the defense power.

With a possible 11 attack against Superman and other godlike buddies (the Incap boost + Perplex), he’s a lot better than he looks for 50 points.

Bruce Wayne

Why?: Combat Reflexes with a 17 defense, and Outwit for 3 clicks, plus the 10 attack to start. He’s a combat-ready Outwitter–I’ve actually KOed opponents’ figures with him before. 😀

The slow movement aside, he’s very much worth the 48 points. And if the low movement bothers you, just have one of your flying pieces carry him around. (Especially fun with Green Lantern pieces or flying pieces with Phasing…lol)

Diana Prince

Why?: A Medic with 9 attack is almost necessary in these days of 17 and 18 defenses. Not only that, she’s 17 defense at range, and you’re likely going to keep her back from the front lines anyway, so she’s more easily defended against attack. A very worthy Support piece at 32 points, and great if you can’t afford/can’t use a Night Nurse.

General Thunderbolt Ross

Why?: While Leadership, S.H.I.E.L.D. team ability, and Enhancement make him a good supporting character, his special attack power is hilarious. Quoting the rules text:

“Once per game, give Thunderbolt Ross a double power action. Choose a square anywhere on the map. Modify General Thunderbolt Ross’ attack value by +3 and make a ranged combat attack that does not target, and compare the result to each character occupying the chosen square or a square adjacent to the chosen square. A hit character occupying the chosen square is dealt 3 damage. Other hit characters are dealt 2 damage that causes knock back from the chosen square. Destroy all walls and squares of blocking terrain in or adjacent to the chosen square.”

…Better than Energy Explosion. BAM!!!

The OTHER General Thunderbolt Ross

Why?: The Willpower/Leadership combo is great (especially for 42 points!), but again, it’s the special attack power that pushes him over the top. Other adjacent characters you control that are 75 points or less get +1 attack when they’re attacking someone with Super Strength. And, if they’re attacking a Hulk, they get +1 damage.

This figure can single-handedly help a little swarm team beat down a larger-point-value beatstick. Superman beware!

Jason Blood

Why?: Why NOT?! Let’s see, he’s got Prob, 18 defense at range, AND Mystics team ability…um, yeah, even with the low movement speed, he’s awesomely, annoyingly playable for 44 points. (He’s nearly the smallest Mystic in the game, too, which makes him hilarious to play with larger-cost Wildcards like Ultra Boy and Vet Supergirl, too.)

If it isn’t obvious already, I heart this piece. 😀

John Jameson

Why?: Forget the first click and the last two clicks. Look at the middle two clicks, the team ability, and the point cost for why Jameson is playable. Fun with Wildcard Mystics–the Toughness makes him able to soak more damage, but if he can’t soak it all, oh well, tough nachos for the guy who just hit him. Mystics damage for the win. 🙂

(And the Super Strength with 10 attack/17 defense? Even though it’s only for one click, it’s AWESOME for 38 points. You just don’t find that kind of ability in wildcards that low.)

Matt Murdock

Why?: The special damage power. Outwit normally on anybody, or Outwit Stealth, Perplex, or Outwit on anybody within 6 squares who’s 75 points or less, regardless of whether he can draw a line of fire to them. WIN!

Walter Kovacs

Why?: He has a trait that gives him Stealth, and he has Shapechange. Annoying enough for 38 points, right? WRONG–check out his special attack ability. Quoting rules text:

“At the beginning of your turn, choose a keyword belonging to an opposing character adjacent to Walter Kovacs. Until the beginning of your next turn, modify the attack value of Walter Kovacs or a character friendly to Walter Kovacs by +1 when they attack a character that possesses the chosen keyword.”

Um, if I play this piece and you play a keyworded team…hee hee, you are in more trouble than you think.

Kinda-Worth-It AE Pieces

Peter Parker

Why?: Super Senses makes him annoying, Wildcard team ability makes him versatile, and Perplex makes him supportive. But you have to push him to get Perplex, and that means losing that nice 17 starting defense.

For 50 points, you get a basic but solid Wildcard-fodder piece that can actually help out your team, but you may have to wait too long or risk losing him before you can use him.

Rick Jones

Why?: He’s a fine source for a Wildcard team (the Avengers team ability is not bad), and he has the ability to use another team ability himself. Give him Bat-Team, Mystics, or something else silly for extra LOLs.

The only issues I have with him is that he is remarkably short-lived for 48 points, and he doesn’t keep his abilities for very long, either. But if you’re looking for something to fill in the gaps (like an extra team ability or an extra Perplexer), this could work.

Unworthy AE Pieces

The OTHER Bruce Banner

Why?: For 55 points, you can find better Energy Explosion pieces (his special attack power is based off Energy Explosion), and the one click of Outwit does not help his cause much, either. This is a “Waiting-for-Hulk” piece, not a piece on his own.

Eddie Brock

Why?: He’s a “Waiting-for-Venom” or “Waiting-for-Anti-Venom” piece (the special attack power gets Anti-Venom, the special speed power gets Venom). Not much else. Shapechange is okay, but he’d mainly be an annoyance piece if you’re just playing him and not planning to change him out.

Clark Kent

Why?: Because you have to push him once to get to Perplex, and he’s not as combat-capable. He’s more a “Waiting-For-Superman” piece than a piece on his own. Not worth it to me, especially not paying 48 points for what amounts to a slightly-upgraded Con Artist.

Norman Osborn

Why?: Let’s see. He’s got a trait that pretty much uses a dice roll to determine which figure you can pull in when you Alter Ego. Bleh, leaving that up to chance is not my style. Also, he’s 66 points–who’s he going to Mastermind damage to in current environments? I’d rather have a REAL defense modifier, but then again I dislike Mastermind anyway. LOL

The saving grace here is the Outwit he’s got for 3 clicks, but I ain’t paying 66 points for just an Outwitter. Basically, he’d be a third-string attacker and Outwitter, and would be more dead weight than anything.


While a few Alter Ego pieces are not worth the investment, many of the AE pieces offer combat and support at low point costs. If you’re looking for bargains on Prob, Support, and Outwit in a Modern-Age environment, I’d say your search ends with this blog article!

Desktop Tower Defense 1.5

As an avid player of tower defense games, I’m pretty selective when it comes to the TD games I return to over and over again. Desktop Tower Defense 1.5 is one of those–the whole series is awesome, but the first version I played was 1.5, so it has a special place in my heart.

Basic Gameplay

You receive a fixed amount of money to start the game off–80 gold–which allows you to buy as few as 2 towers (a Frost and a Dart tower) or as many as 16 Pellet Towers. It all depends on what you want to defend yourself with.

The little green box,
made by your cursor,
shows where you will place
your tower if you click.
The range of the tower
is the orange outline.

If the little box is red,
it means it’s overlapping
another tower, or you don’t
have enough money to build it.

When you’re all set up, hit the “Start” button, and the first group of enemies will appear!

I’m on ur desktop, killin som doodz.

With every group of enemies (collectively called a “creep”), you will receive gold for defeating each enemy within the group. (In the screenshot above, you can see a red “+2” in front of the towers. That’s where an enemy has just fallen, and the game has given me +2 gold.) Then, you use this money to build/upgrade your towers so that they can take down progressively stronger creeps.

Select a tower by clicking it. Its information will appear in the tower selection pane to the right. In this screenshot, I can click the green “Upgrade” button to upgrade my Pellet Tower to a Pellet Tower 2.

This is what it looks like when you’ve chosen to upgrade one of your towers, with the orange progress bar showing you how far along it is. When you’re upgrading a tower, it cannot fire, so it’s best to upgrade between creeps.

Your objective, as noted in the first labeled screenshot, is to keep your enemies from going all the way across the desktop. You can do this by placing towers so that they divert enemies. (A tried-and-true way is to place towers in undulating lines within the desktop space, so that the max number of towers can fire on enemies as long as possible, and the only way enemies can get by is to run along these predetermined paths.)

Also, as the game goes along, the dropped gold from each creep enemy gets slowly bigger (not with every creep, but every few).

Types of Towers

Pellet Squirt Dart Swarm Frost
Fire Rate: Slow

Damage: Good

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 5 to place
– Upgrade #1: 5
– Upgrade #2: 10
– Upgrade #3: 20
– Upgrade #4: 40
– Upgrade #5: 120 (final)

Special Effects: None

Final Form: Sniper Tower (-fire rate, +damage, +range)

Fire Rate: Fast

Damage: Fair

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 15 to place
– Upgrade #1: 12
– Upgrade #2: 23
– Upgrade #3: 35
– Upgrade #4: 75
– Upgrade #5: 290 (final)

Special Effects: None

Final Form: Typhoon Tower (+range, +damage, +fire rate)

Fire Rate: Very Slow

Damage: Great

Range: Great

Upgrade Costs:
– 20 to place
– Upgrade #1: 15
– Upgrade #2: 30
– Upgrade #3: 55
– Upgrade #4: 90
– Upgrade #5: 165 (final)

Special Effects: Splashes damage on a group (ground only)

Final Form: ICBM Tower (+range, +damage +splash)

Fire Rate: Slow

Damage: Great

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 50 to place
– Upgrade #1: 30
– Upgrade #2: 50
– Upgrade #3: 75
– Upgrade #4: 125
– Upgrade #5: 310 (final)

Special Effects: Only shoots at fliers, fires 4 missiles at a time

Final Form: Storm Tower (+range, +damage, +splash)

Fire Rate: Slow

Damage: Good

Range: Fair

Upgrade Costs:
– 50 to place
– Upgrade #1: 25
– Upgrade #2: 25
– Upgrade #3: 25
– Upgrade #4: 25
– Upgrade #5: 50 (final)

Special Effects: Slows enemies way down, splashes damage on a group

Final Form: Blizzard Tower (+range, +damage)

Enemy Group Types

Normal Group Immune Fast Flying Bosses
Vulnerable to all damage
Move at normal speed
Vulnerable to all damage
Clump together for movement
Invulnerable to frost damage
Move at normal speed
Vulnerable to all damage
Move at fast speed
Invulnerable to dart damage
Fly over towers
Move at normal speed
Each boss takes on one of the five other forms
Moves at slightly slower speed


I generally buy two or three different types of towers at the start of the game. A Frost Tower is almost indispensable for slowing ground and air enemies, and is wonderful for fighting big clumped-up groups. Also, using a Squirt and Pellet Tower in conjunction with each other is a good tactic to start off with–the faster firing rate of the Squirt tower compensates for the slower Pellet Tower, and the Pellet’s higher damage compensates for the Squirt’s lower damage.

You’ll need at least one Swarm tower to fight air enemies, but you shouldn’t need a line of them. Just make sure your Swarm tower is lined up straight with where the enemies come in, and your Pellets and Squirts should make up the difference.

Dart towers are wonderful for splashing damage–they work well alongside Frost towers, which slow enemies enough for the Dart tower to shoot at them multiple times.

Don’t build too many towers early on; focus on upgrading the towers you have at first, and then start building a couple here and there when you need them to direct creep flow or need the extra damage.

Use all the desktop space given you for undulating lines of towers–don’t make it easy to get to the other side.

Last-ditch effort: Install a few towers on the other side of the map, close to the exit, to catch stragglers. Make sure these towers stay upgraded along with your front line, otherwise they won’t be much help.

Play the game: Desktop Tower Defense 1.5


If you’ve ever liked the style of Magic: the Gathering, but never felt like collecting the cards, here’s a free Flash game for you–Mytheria!

Basic Gameplay

Mytheria is basically a Flash version of Magic: the Gathering, with a few teeny-tiny rules changes. For instance, instead of being able to draw and play mana cards (resources to pay for spells) every turn, you choose at the beginning of your turn whether you want to increase your mana pool or draw a card. Also, you don’t have any “mana cards” to play at all–the mana pool is separate from your deck of cards.

A screenshot of the tutorial stage–you play with a preconstructed deck and much of the gameplay is explained to you through popup text boxes. Vital info for each player is on the right, play area is on the left.

A sample game, with an Aura (permanent spell) in play on the right side, and a creature or two in play on either side. The half-transparent creature on the opponent’s side was used to attack last turn, so it is unavailable to block with (like tapping a creature to attack in Magic).

Now, normally I would go into all the essential rules and know-how in this section, but someone else has already done it, and done it very well, I might add! Thus, I give you the following Mytheria walkthrough that covers most of the basics of gameplay.

However, there is one part that the above guide and the in-game tutorial both leave out: the philosophies and typical gameplay of each color in the game.

The Color Pie: Each Color’s Abilities

Mytheria, like Magic, works off five basic colors. To play Mytheria well, you need to be versed in how each color plays, as well as what type of gameplay you prefer so that you know how to build your own deck when the time comes. (More about building your own deck in the Game Progression section of this article.)

Each color does have combat capabilities, but each color also has its own spin on what it does besides combat (and what it does with creatures). Each color also has a bit of unblockable combat damage and penetrating combat damage (you block, but if there’s damage left over, it gets through to you).

Major Creature Type: Soldier

  • Gains life
  • Prevents attacking
  • Has lots of small creatures
  • Enhances creatures with Auras and Modifiers
  • Destroys creatures by paying life
  • Destroys Auras
  • Gives creatures back some Strength
  • Can draw extra cards at beginning of turn

Major Creature Types: Myrkin, Soldier, Animal

  • Destroys Auras and creatures
  • Weakens creatures
  • Manipulates opponent’s mana pool
  • Gains a tiny bit of life
  • Trades life points for mana
  • Bounces opponent’s creatures back to hand
  • Draws cards
  • Stops opponents from playing cards

Major Creature Type: Soldier

  • Uses lots of little creatures for combat damage
  • Targets opponent and enemy creatures with burn spells
  • Plays very aggressively
  • Gains a teeny bit of life
  • Boosts creatures with both Auras and Modifiers
  • Destroys Modifiers

Major Creature Type: Robot

  • More focus on “unblockable” damage than other colors
  • Boosts Robots’ strength
  • Sacrifices creatures for life gain
  • Destroys Modifiers
  • Pings creatures
  • Makes opponent ditch cards from hand
  • Brings down opponent’s creature strength

Major Creature Type: Shadow

  • Destroys creatures
  • Damages self in order to damage opponent
  • Effects life loss
  • Trades cards in hand for creature Strength
  • Discards cards
  • Takes away abilities of creatures
  • Trades creature Strength and opponent’s life total for self life total
  • Trades mana for life points

Game Progression

You have to beat each of the prescribed missions first, beginning with the (awesomely detailed) Tutorial and all the way through to the end, to officially “beat” the game. But that doesn’t mean you stop playing!

Deck Builder

After Mission 6 is complete, you unlock the Deck Builder option, which allows you to go in and build your own deck to use on missions. No longer do you have to suffer through playing the all-red decks of the beginning few scenarios; you can build whatever you like to stomp the opponent!

Card Limits

Keep in mind that some cards are limited to how many you can put in your self-built deck. Most have a limit of 5, but some, like Commander J’Ardan and Scythian Elite, can only have 2 or 3 in a deck. With a max of 60 cards allowed in your deck, take time to balance what you’re putting in your deck and remember these limits.


You also unlock the Challenges section after you complete Mission 6. Challenges mainly involve defeating opponents playing super-strong mono-color decks, as well as winning a game when you only began with 10 health (or even 1 health!).

Completing challenges allow you to unlock special locked cards in the Deck Builder, which are quite epic cards…but I’ll leave that for you to discover on your own. Have fun!

Play the game: Mytheria