Future F.U.N.: 2017 Rulebook changes

 

There’s been a lot of talk about the long-awaited rules changes coming to HeroClix in mid-summer. But unlike other commentaries, Heroclixin’ is focusing on how F.U.N. these changes promise to be — or not.

  • F = Friendly: How unpleasant is this aspect of the game likely to be to face when it’s not on your side? The more so, the less it rates on this metric.
  • U = Useful: It’s still nice to have utility on your force. So how’s it rate in this manner?
  • N = Nerdcore: Finally, there’s the question of whether this change adequately reflects the source material, the comics. And we found that this metric mattered to us much more than we expected in rating these new rules.

Let’s dish.

EDIT: So not half a DAY after I made this post live, WizKids released an update featuring changes to the changes! So things are being struck out like so and new commentary likewise inserted.

 

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Themed Teams: Additional Team Abilities gone from Modern Age, Themed Team Probability Control uses equal to number of members, max 5 

The TTPC cap is a fantastic change. I still remember an old game from 2008 that I lost chiefly due to an endless* series of TTPCs. And with other changes to Prob, this will be a Friendlier element of the game going forward. It definitely has less Utility, but in truth, this is a much more comic-accurate Nerdcore reflection of the comics: there’s a limit to how much keyword synergy can influence a battlefield.

But my ATAs tho. I loved these point fillers — they were usually Friendly but Useful and really enhanced the Nerdcore aspect of the game — and now they’re gone from Modern Age. If they go, RESOURCES should go.

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Leadership: Always only +1 action for team. Remove tokens from shared keyword or lower points

Though we’ll miss the multiple extra actions and the Usefulness that sometimes offered, the guaranteed +1 action is much more Nerdcore accurate to reflect the effect of any decent leader on an organization. The d6 roll, then, represents the flashes of inspiration that good leaders have to make the team even more effective — and it makes sense that the leader needn’t always be beefier than the followers. While this has some potentially VERY unFriendly applications — 50-point Cap removes token from raging 300-point Hulk — Heroclixin’ is looking forward to this one.

(A possible F.U.N. Fix: Battle Fury can’t be affected by Leadership.)

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Mastermind: Instead of damage transfer, it switches hit targets. It also works via keywords similarly to Leadership above.

So this means Energy Explosion and Poison can’t be MM’d anymore. This is Nerdcore accurate because Joker can’t somehow make the Thug breathe in tear gas for him. This is also a boost against Precision Strike, though, which probably SHOULD still work against Mastermind, so we have to dock it Nerdcore points. Overall, we’re glad it’s relevant again.

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Phases: Beginning of Turn, Action, End of Turn, Clearing.

It’s much cleaner gameplay (Friendly) but takes away so many combos (less Useful). Still on the fence on Niftiness.

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Poison: No longer free action but Beginning of Turn effect (that kills Sidestep+Outwit combos)

Poison is the highest profile casualty of the new turn phases. On the one hand, the old combos made this cheap power way more effective than it’s priced to be, and it’s still free damage, every turn. But on the other, this change makes it utterly ineffective against any damage reducer and elevates its risk vs. reward ratio to a problematic degree. The designers took some player feedback into account and came up with a solid rewrite and compromise: Poison is FREE if the poisoner hasn’t been moved or placed. Very nice!

Still, it’s more Nerdcore-comic-accurate than ever, actually. Poison usually takes a minute to kick in. And although we usually take several minutes to resolve rounds of HeroClix play, the events are occurring in seconds. So this change is pretty spot-on.

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Costed actions: New term for non-free actions. Nested free actions, such as the free close action during Charge, are now actions “at no cost.”

So some years ago, there was a 45-point figure made that each dealt enemies 1 unavoidable damage for doing any of the following (among other actions) within 8 squares:

  • Flurry
  • Charge
  • Running Shot
  • Hypersonic Speed
  • Duo Attack

No line of fire needed. And it triggers even if you KO this figure. Seem a little too good? Well, part of the reason was that “free action” had a very broad definition, not only including standalone ones like Outwit or Poison but also “nested” ones that only worked within a non-free one. Now, with the new “costed” term, there’s a way to use these powers without triggering the wrath of the Science Police who call the Legion of Super-Heroes for help.

For just this figure alone, this will be a great change. It also keeps stuff like White Witch or the Green Lantern Power Battery from being the F.U.N.-sucking things they could be. (Jury is still out on Felix Faust, though.)

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Outwit: Instead of countering possessed powers/abilities on dial, it says “can’t use” special/standard powers of any source. Also can nix powers before they ever show up!

Back in 2013, when Outwit, Prob. Control and Perplex got their former 10-square reach slashed to just six, Outwit suffered the most. Worse, with relics and resources and traits and equipment, there were a TON of powers it couldn’t touch. But now its gotten its Usefulness back, and while that’s a fair bit less Friendly — Outwit is going to be a lot scarier to see on the other team — it’s perfectly Nerdcore and RIGHT.

Being able to preemptively deny use of powers not yet in use is the part that troubles us. While it’s highly Nerdcore for certain characters (doesn’t master Outwitter Black Panther regularly counteract enemy powers on the fly?) it’s quite a stretch for others (J. Jonah Jameson is NOT a tactical genius).

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Protected: new key word for immunities. Ex: “Protected: Outwit” = “can’t be countered.”

So if Outwit is getting such a boost, it seems only fair that there some guard be against it. Time will tell how Friendly this will be, but its certainly Useful and potentially Nerdcore.

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Objects: All characters can hold lights. No more ultras. Objects aren’t hindering.

One of the most Nerdcore changes, as it never made a great deal of sense that only Super Strength characters could hold light objects, usually depicted as nothing more weighty than a manhole cover (and usually considerably lighter). It also was implausible that light objects could be used as cover for Stealth characters, especially giants with the power, and that they would trip up runners the way a hedge would. So it’s a highly welcome change to see objects cease to be hindering terrain, even if that puts the kibosh on some of their old Utility.

Also, a note on ultra heavy objects’ exit from the main game: As cool as they were, they really were a demoralizing factor for the receiving end. We’re not that sad to see them go. Note: They’re considered special objects in Golden Age, so only one of each of ultra light and heavy will likely be allowed.

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"DAMN! Spotted me."

Hide: standard and tiny figs can turn heavy objects they’re on into hindering at end of turn.

Heavy objects retain some of their Utility for Stealth figs, though the mechanic is a little clunky (you’re supposed to put a hindering marker there, but actually the object acts as the hindering marker? Um…OK)  Heavy objects are hindering terrain for line of fire. Seems legit.

It’s also fantastically Nerdcore that this trick is no longer available to giants at all.

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Super Strength: Deals knockback, holds heavies.

The green attack power getting to deal knock back is a nice Nerdcore and Useful upgrade. There are enough counters to knock back in the game that this looks pretty Friendly as well.

CAVEAT: It needs to be worded to work with close attacks or Object Attacks ONLY. Otherwise it makes no sense with characters such as, say, Spider-Woman [Avengers Assemble 028] to deal auto-knockback while shooting a foe. That range power has nothing to do with her muscle.

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Carry: -1 for each passenger. Vehicles’ “Passenger” number is standard for all. Can’t carry while holding object.

I’ve always been surprised how many players question whether you can carry both a passenger and an object. The answer has always been “yes…” until now. This is a fairly Nerdcore change, because in truth we almost never see a character carrying both in the comics. The carrying penalty is also a simple compromise from the old flat -2. It’s going to be a little less Friendly, as the penalty used to serve as a check on Charge and Running Shot while carrying, say, Enhancement allies or something.

 

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It's because you didn't declare CLOSE, Pete

It’s because you didn’t declare CLOSE, Pete

Destroy: wrecking objects/terrain are CLOSE/RANGE actions.  (Doesn’t combo with HSS.)

WizKids really seems to want to take the plain vanilla attack out of the game, or at least to sideline it as much as possible outside of the occasional special power. This is a Friendly but not entirely Nerdcore change that takes even more Utility out of Hypersonic Speed.

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Object Attacks: CLOSE/RANGE actions. 6 range. (Doesn’t combo with HSS.)

It never entirely made Nerdcore sense to be able to combo Exploit Weakness with use of a Tank Turret or any other ultra heavy object, so this change delights us at Heroclixin’. Or at least it did until we realized using objects wouldn’t combo with Flurry anymore, either. Or Close Combat Expert.

Still, this change is taking a lot of the needless complexity out of the equation. Consider, for example, how using objects currently works with EW, CCE and Flurry but DOSEN’T function with other melee powers like Quake, Blades/Claws/Fangs, Incap or Mind Control. This change makes it its own thing so players don’t have to memorize or consult a flow chart to figure out basic combos.

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Flash trips

Hypersonic Speed: Moves through characters, can’t carry, always has +2 breakaway even on normal movement. Instead of attacking during move, the move stops, then vanilla attacks (no more object attack), then breakaway to move rest of speed. 

This power is much more Friendly and Nerdcore with these changes. For although we’ve been addicted to the HSS+SStrength combo since the power debuted, I am very hard pressed to bring up even a single instance when Superman flew full tilt into an enemy’s face holding a tank. The passive breakaway bonus is great.

The end of One-Hit KOs is more than enough reason for us to cheer this change. We’ll take in stride the fact that Plasticity is no longer a hard counter to 0 range HSS.

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Pulse Wave: Now ignores powers and effects from LOF drawing onward.

This removes the corner cases that used to get around the ultimate solvent in the game. But we’re fretting that if it busts all powers and effects in range, doesn’t that mean it affect Barrier, too? We need answers, because Barrier should remain the one power Pulse Wave can’t ignore.

 

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Ringmaster

Mind Control: Instead of giving action, it gives halved move AND vanilla attack.

We CANNOT WAIT to use the new Mind Control. Heroclixin’s hated this power for years despite its grand potential: It’s always had too much potential to fail. Now it effectively gives all hit figures the ability to move and attack for you. We also find it much more Nerdcore, as though the MC’d target is fighting the outside influence. Additionally, WK decided to drop the feedback damage completely. 

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Invincible: reduces 2 (incl. penetrating damage) and caps damage at 3

This power’s Friendliness takes a hit because one of its most balancing features was that as stout as it was, all it took was 2 damage to thwart it. It was like a light armor that scaled up in effectiveness based on the size of the threat. Now that it both reduces by 2 AND softens penetrating damage, it seems more like Impervious-plus. It’s much more Useful. I suppose it retains its essential Nerdcore cred by being that damage reducer that works on everything.

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Precision: single target only, evade rolls -1.

So while Precision Strike was the needed natural counter for Super Senses and Mastermind, it was quickly problematic when it got handed out to scores of dials. The trouble with P.Strike was that it comboed with EVERY MODE OF ATTACK and rendered SSenses, an already unreliable defense, utterly unusable. Now, it’s Friendlier by simply making Super Senses even more unreliable than usual. Unfortunately, PStrike’s Useful quotient drops severely, as it no longer functions against Mastermind, either. But it’s much more Nerdcore with its new single target restriction. The name of the power is “PRECISION.”  That doesn’t mix well with a power called Energy Explosion. And speaking of which…

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Energy Explosion: deals 2 to all hit figs. No longer must hit central target to deal the splash.

This change feels both Friendlier and a bit more Useful. Sure, we’ve lost the borderline gross combos with PPB and whatnot. But the power is on the less expensive side of the spectrum anyway, and low-powered characters will get a boost. We particularly love the slight nerf to Super Senses and the fact that the power’s useful against isolated targets, too.

 

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Probability Control only on attacks and breakaways

Prob is one of the game’s best powers and yet not its most expensive. It’s probably been a little overpowered all along.

So now it should be Friendlier and more focused by not being able to reroll every little thing. But it’s a darn sight less Useful — poor Regen! Ultimately, it’s more Nerdcore IMHO, since there’s a limit to how much reality-warping should actually occur in a given instant. We’ll live with it.

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Overall, the gamers Heroclixin’ has spoken to are generally enthused with the direction these rules are going — except the Poison and Regen fallout. No one’s crazy about those.

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Wolverinepic2

But apparently WizKids wasn’t done. With the change to Prob Control, powers such as Regen and BCF got worse. So they (and Support) got slight upgrades:

  • BCF’s minimum result is printed damage -1.
  • Regen heals half the d6 roll, for a minimum 1 and maximum 3. 
  • For its part, Support heals a minimum 2, max 4. 
  • They also made STOP clicks cause 1 less healing when using Regen or Support.

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OK, then. NOW Heroclixin’ is more enthused than ever.

4 comments

  1. I respect your desire for playing a game where it can be fun for all playing. I think their heart was in the right place with these revisions. I just think that they could fix the issues with HSS and Super Strength by recosting the figures by an additional 50-100 points rather than change things from the way they have been for 14 years and change.

    HSS has been the power that has been the most savaged by rules changes. There used to be the ability to do multiple hits. I believe that option should make a comeback considering this power has been hurt over the years.

    1. Thanks for reading, BAM!

      I think we might be jumping to conclusions on the power of HSS+Super Strength. Assuming one isn’t attacking foes with Charge or Reflexes, the SStr knock back removes the issue of post-attack breakaway. The potential to ruin enemy positions is pretty interesting — more interesting than the current reality of the one-hit-KO move that is the usual result of HSS+SStr. The game’s going to become more dynamic with this change.

      I would very much like to see the multi-hits move come back to HSS.

  2. I love your idea about Leadership not working on Battle Furied figs. Great house rule idea!

    “It’s also fantastically Nerdcore that this trick is no longer available to giants at all.”

    Regarding giants and stealth, I picture that ridiculous scene in Transformers 1 where Optimus Prime is sneaking around a house even though he weighs a few tons.

    Finally, I’m not sure I like the Mind Control change at all. The move and vanilla attack? Sounds great for some figs, but it should be Option B. If I’m mind controlling Cyclops with 2 damage and Psychic/Penetrating Blast, guess what? I want him to actually be able to damage his pal Colossus. What good will his move and attack be?

    Definitely UN-Nerdcore change. Mind controllers are the buffest characters in comics and often the weakest in HeroClix. The correct way to play it would be too powerful for competitive games, but amazing for roleplay scenarios. Namely, the mind controller should be able to maintain a mental hold on the character until a) the character takes damage or b) the mind-controlled character gets to make an opposed roll against the mind-controller at the beginning of every turn. Even more complicated but more Nerdcore, characters could have a +1 bonus to break the mind link based on point value. +1 for 100-199 pts, +2 for 200-299 pts, +3 for 300+ This uber-power could be represented by feedback damage to the mind controller WHEN the link is broken by a high-point character.

  3. Regarding Super-Strength. SS has always bothered me. Lets say that I have 6 SS characters on my team but there’s only 2 heavy objects on the map. What good is this power then?!

    My idea for a fix is that SS characters should have minimum damage 3. So a character with 2 damage and SS could be Outwitted to effectively perplex their damage back to the printed value. My reasoning for the 3 damage is that it is ridiculous for a SS character to get stuck behind a wall or be unable to harm an Invulnerable character.

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