Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Introduction to Heroclix
Introduction to Heroclix
By Hilary Gilbert: May 2016
The First Part of a Series of Related Episodes
I doubt there are many gamers in the hobby who have not at least heard of “HeroClix” and almost definitely very few who haven’t seen some of the miniatures over the years. Many of you will even have `lopped` few of these minis from their bases to stand in as cool proxy miniatures for other games?
I sometimes wonder how many people cut their Clix minis off the bases without thinking it out fully: or just how many agonised about it before carving away with the modeling knife; and just how many now regret they did it at all? Moreover, I wonder just how many gamers now wistfully wish they had kept hold of their old HeroClix collections, especially with the intense new wave of interest in the game (I suspect, largely due to a huge rise in the batch of amazing new superhero movies currently being made for the big screen and ultimately onto DVD for home viewing and pleasure).
But, for those who don`t really know much about the game: I suppose the question must be.. so what exactly is HeroClix?
The Game was originally designed and produced by a company called WizKids, but was discontinued in November 2008 when WizKids owner Topps shut down their HeroClix line. In September 2009, collectible toy producer National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) purchased some of the WizKids' intellectual property from Topps, including the HeroClix rights and then soon after began to produce and sell entirely new HeroClix series of miniatures, rules, tokens, and maps for the game.
DC Heroclix Batman/Superman Dawn of Justice Starter Set:
The HeroClix game utilizes the "combat dial system" (originally created for an even older and highly successful game called Mage Knight). The Combat Dial keeps track of a figure's game statistics
via a rotating dial in the base (which makes a pleasantly satisfying `clicking` sound when you turn the wheel). As the figure suffers damage, the dial is turned a required number of "clicks" to reveal new stats and possibly special abilities and powers,
HeroClix was designed to appeal to comic book fans and players of table top wargames: and subsequently also became collector items due, to the quality of detail in the HeroClix figures.
The first game set, Marvel's Infinity Challenge, was released in 2002 and included figures and maps. The original HeroClix figures were all from comic books printed by Marvel Comic, but later expanded to include sets from DC Comics and from various independent comic book publishers such as Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics. Later expansions also added new card-based mechanics such as "Feats" and "Battlefield Conditions", expanding the game beyond the addition of new characters. The Original HeroClix won three awards at the 2002 Origins Awards including “Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Game Board Game”. Infinity Challenge, "Best Board Game Expansion or Supplement" and "Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniature." WizKids had a prize support system for organized tournaments at comic book and hobby shops, as well as regionally and nationally, consisting of special limited edition variant figures given to winners. National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA), the current owners of the HeroClix rights, resumed this practice in 2009.
Interestingly, Steve (co owner of this blog with Bryan) worked on quite a number of the company projects at the time, including the Mage Knight to HeroClix (MK to HC) crossover, and continues to this day, to maintain close contact with Mr Keating (All Area Promotions Manager) for the game.
WizKids, the company behind the HeroClix game, was acquired by The Topps Company in 2003. But Topps later announced that as of November 10, 2008, Wizkids was ceasing production of all its product lines. Sadly that was the end of a glorious era for this amazing and highly popular game.
Scott Silverstein, CEO of Topps, said
“This was an extremely difficult decision. While the company will still actively pursue gaming initiatives, we feel it is necessary to align our efforts more closely with Topps' current sports and entertainment offerings which are being developed within our New York office.”
Hmmmm, well, I could speak more about this `company decision` but I will desist, and stay on topic, and restrict myself to talking about the game itself. Except briefly to conclude:
The HeroClix property was expected to be sold off to a 3rd party in May 2009, but the two parties were unable to come to an agreement. While a Marvel license "to manufacture figures and card games" had been acquired by Upper Deck Company, that license specifically excluded the HeroClix game and concept. Topps owned all the rights and licenses for all versions of HeroClix, giving them the rights to sell the license to a third party. There were three companies known to be interested in acquiring the WizKids properties: Catalyst Game Labs, which works primarily on print role playing games; Piñata Games, formed by HeroClix fans and former Wizkids employees, with the primary purpose of buying and continuing the HeroClix line; and a newly formed third company. However, Catalyst withdrew from the bids, Justin Ziran of Piñata joined Topps instead, and the third company failed to achieve adequate funding.
Custom HeroClix model (Selene: from Underworld): shown here with the
all new style “click” base
NECA announced that it had purchased the majority of the Wizkids properties, including HeroClix, in September 2009; and beginning on July 2009, NECA began selling the "Thor's Mighty Chariot" large figure at conventions in North America. Since this game piece had not been released by Wizkids, it came as no surprise that NECA now had purchase of the brand. The subsequent re-launch of HeroClix occurred with the release of the "Hammer of Thor" series in November 2009, the first series under the management of NECA.
Once again this incredible game is thriving, and hobbyists (currently) can begin to look forward to new products, new miniatures, new starter sets (as each new superhero movie hit the big screen), and various Clix paraphernalia.. all being made to enhance and march the game proudly into the second decade of the twenty first century.
Events and Tournaments still thrive, but not on the grand scale they once did, with national events taking place as prestigious centre stage attractions at shows such as GenCon and Salute.
Matt Murdock: Daredevil (Marvel Comics)
Some of the HeroClix figures were only released in limited quantities (Limited Release Figures), which meant that the number of figures produced was significantly less than the rest of the figure series, making the odds of finding the more `special` pieces significantly lower: or they are produced for special events only. and not for general retail. The limited numbers often result in the figures gaining a higher value in the resale market.
These limited number figures can be referred to as "Chases" if they can be found through general purchase or simply "LE" for limited edition if they are event specific. Steve and I at one time had a number of these (mostly for HorrorClix... ultra rares and extreme limited edition pieces, only available as tournament hand outs, to tournament prize winners and so on), and thinking about it, we actually gave many of these `ultra rares` to Bryan a few years back. But now, since we have re-discovered our love of Clix with a deep passionate intensity, Bryan has been amazingly kind to us and sent us a large batches of miniatures to get us going once more in the exciting world of HeroClix: and we now have the nucleus of a brand new collection to enjoy both at home, and on our weekly games nights.
I should point out that in 2006 a new game called “HorrorClix” was created which was based on and indeed still used the WizKids' Clix system. The game's tagline was "Wicked Fun." The product was discontinued in November 2008 when WizKids' new owner Topps shut down the company .
Similar to HeroClix, HorrorClix offered players the ability to construct teams of monsters that cross horror genres, allowing them to create a "dream team" of favorite characters. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, and demons, as well as a number of vigilantes to fight for the side of good, including a vampire hunter, ghost finders, priests and military men.
I won’t go into HorrorClix in detail within this article, but I will write about it sometime in the future. Suffice to say it is fairly compatible with HeroClix (I enjoy mixing both together) and I would find it hard to tell you which I prefer the most.. HeroClix of HorrorClix. Each game holds a bright candle in my heart. But like I say, for the most part (with only the barest of conversion) the two games when combined play nicely as a single entity: and I love to mix and match miniatures from the same games when I play my own table top adventures.
Harley Quinn: The Most Wicked Girl of Gotham.
What Is It About HeroClix Thats So Addictive?
You know, I`m not sure its possible to quantify that or dilute it down to a single reason! Certainly the game has nobly withstood the test of time, having survived nearly 16 years of company turmoil, during which time its world wide loyal fan base has never turned away from it, and have continued to feed the game with fresh imput EVEN when, for a long while, the line of miniatures and support products were no longer in production for the public to buy.
The game has endured through a vibrant network of ebay sellers, private specialist game shops (both online and on the streets), and by select collectors who have kept the game going through constant exposure; game events, game conventions, various fanzines and blogs, and by making a whole host of unofficial custom made miniatures throughout the `dark years` when the game was difficult to find, buy, or collect in any sizeable way.
Heroclix was one of the pioneers of Tradable Miniatures Games (TMG). The idea of which was that you bought random booster packs of miniatures: each pack containing five or six figures, with no idea what you were going to find once you opened the pack up and looked inside. The logic behind this was that you put any repeat models you `pulled` from the packs to one side.. then trade these duplicates away with your friends, for pieces you needed. The swapping was thus mutually beneficial and promoted a great community spirit within the HeroClix hobby in general. Whole on line websites sprang up, devoted to swapping miniatures back and forth across pretty much two thirds of the globe. The game really did become THAT big for many years (and definitely created the original phenomena of ebay sellers setting up specialist shops which sold only table top miniatures, on line).
HeroClix Booster Packs: the excitement of opening these up and wondering what you were going to get, was a unparalleled experience within the gaming hobby.
But I think it was the theme that caught our imaginations the most! The miniatures all came pre-painted .. which was especially appealing for those who wanted to play, but perhaps possessed insufficient modelling skill to sit and paint the pieces from scratch, for themselves. I found it an enchanting idea, and although I have heard it said many times (far too many times to be honest... yawn!) that the figures were shoddily painted: hmmm, I actually found them to be delightfully well done. And at $10 for a pack of half a dozen models, who could complain anyway?
But the theme was amazing, and captured the imaginations of gamers everywhere. Who couldn’t feel a rush of excitement at the thought to of `Pulling` Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Wolverine or Rogue from a booster pack? Then there were all those cool and colourful arch villains to collect: The Joker, Penguin, The Riddler, Magneto and Mystique. The sheer range of miniatures for the game was absolutely staggering, running into the thousands. So you could literally collect within a fully playable wargames world, comic book heroes and bad guys from any genre you might possibly care to collect from. It felt like magic, it felt like the world was suddenly a living breathing vibrant place to be a part of: and we, the gaming hobbyists... simply loved it.
Black Cat: Spiderman`s (on and off) unofficial `squeeze`
“Cat & Mouse”
A Campaign is Born:
I have wanted to play an ongoing Clix campaign for a long time now, but for some reason, never quite got round to it in the past. Finally, with our recently re-vamped love for the game, and a new fast growing collection of both Hero and Horror Clix well underway: the time has never been riper to make a decent stab at making it happen. Stevie and I will joint play and write these adventures (playing the games on the table top, making notes as we go, taking photos, and then writing it all up into what we hope will be an exciting narrative). Some of it will be played by each of us in solo mode; some will be two player scenarios. Other bits may include the whole gang (our club and friends): but one thing is for sure, it should be a hell of a blast to pull the whole thing off for you all to enjoy.
Anyone who follows our HeroClix articles, battle reports, custom made figure sculpting, and maybe some helpful painting guides (I hate to say tutorials, that word always indicates such arrogance I always think, and assumes the writer has a level of competence that is better than other peoples`.. always a big no no to me). But throughout, anything we write that is Hero or Horror Clix related, from this moment on.. will all tie in with itself, and belong to the same world, same ongoing theme, and the same campaign. This way over time, the whole thing should take on character and a life of its own, and allows us to `grow bag` the game into a flourishing tree, with many diverse and unique narrative branches. Please enjoy, and if there is anything anyone wants to see included in the games, please do shout out - and I (or one of us) will try hard to fit it in somewhere and make happen for you.
A Quick Warning:
We do warn you though, the following story, and indeed, the entire campaign to follow, will in places (like a Stephen King novel) contain scenes of an adult nature.. both graphically portrayed: and sometimes may touch upon a level of sexuality some might be uncomfortable with. This is how we like to play our table top skirmishes, and especially our rpgs.
School for Bad Girls
(A Hero & Horror Clix Crossover Battle Report).
The Matron Mother was retired now… not a Matron at all any more…. “I wonder if she was ever really a Nun in a Convent.” Alice thought.
Alice often sat and wondered about the world…. you know… the real important stuff like…. how long it takes a cat to die when you dangle it on a hook from a tree… the different types of sound that comes from people mouths when you set fire to their hair…. the surprised expression on a boy’s face when you please him – then suddenly bite off his pecker…. You know – important stuff the Matron Mother made you learn.
But Alice didn’t believe The Matron Mother had ever been a… you know…. real, holier than thou, honest to goodness, goodie two shoes Nun… not that it mattered. The Matron Mother had sold her soul to the Devil, and that now made her a genuine fallen woman and a Bride of Satan… which was much better than a boring old Nun in any case.
Alice looked around at her `sisters`… the Matron Mother always insisted they all call one another that…. strange, `cos Alice didn’t think sisters got up to the sort of things the Matron Mother made them do… with each other at night! Yes! Lessons from the Matron Mother were always strangely informative.
Dido and Martha…. like herself…. street urchins found in the back alleys and gutters of the city slums. The Matron Mother was always looking for lost souls… “the right material” she called it… the right stuff for teaching all the secret ways of our fallen Lord.
But Alice was the first. Alice was special. She had been there and watched in awe when the Matron Mother… by foul incantation and bloody sacrifice… had created the guardian. Scarecrow was most adept at keeping away those who might otherwise pry and spy on Grey Gables. Not that they ever had many visitors up here: it was too wild and desolate… only the heavily cloaked and hooded friends of the Matron Mother, who would turn up on the Dark of the Moon and chant and wail long into the night; but none of the girls were allowed to attend these `parties`… though they were sometimes called down from their attic bedroom to `entertain` the masked and hooded guests, and always after the main business was concluded.
Other than that, the only people who ever bothered the residents of Grey Gables were the occasional driver who might accidentally stray off the motorway, or a backpacker or two taking an entirely wrong turn upon The Weavers Way. But Scarecrow always dealt with these situations - quickly and quietly. Canada was a big place, easy to get lost in, sometimes forever!
Scarecrow was getting good at killing now…. especially since the girls had all got together last Christmas and made him a big sharp scythe with a long wooden handle. Yes, the Matron Mother’s metal and woodwork classes were extremely educational… and useful too.
Scarecrow had loved his present so much; he had gone missing for three whole days and nights looking for someone to test his new toy upon. When he had returned, the Matron Mother had been so cross, she had made him stand out in the far field, scaring away crows, for a whole month.
Yes, Grey Gable’s School for Bad Girls was certainly colourful, and never dull.
*** *** ***
The Weyland team sent to investigate the school often wondered whether Henry Wayland had deliberately allowed the Xenomorphs to escape from the sealed container Lorries. What were they doing being transported out there in the first place? But it didn’t pay to ask too many questions of this sort if you wanted to survive working at Weyland Industries.
So basically the Xeno`s had escaped… or were set loose. With no other human habitation anywhere within a hundred or so square miles, it was pretty obvious the Alien creatures would soon find their way to the house… which is where the team was all ready hidden and deployed to monitor and apprehend the critters, and deal with any human survivors.
Weyland wanted it wrapped up nice and neat, but first he wanted the ensuing encounter between the inhabitants of the house and the escaped Aliens monitored and treated like one of The Lab`s normal experiments… which was another indication this whole thing was set up from the beginning.
Weyland might be a clever bastard, but if those Aliens ever truly got loose on this planet… you could say goodbye to humanity on Earth – for ever!
Played on the Indoor/Outdoor HorroClix Map (from the Horror Clix starter set.
Matron Mother, her Girls, and Scarecrow all set up inside the house within the purple area. The Aliens set up on the opposite side of the map within their own purple area.
The objective of the game is for the Aliens to kill everyone no doubt with the intention of cocooning a few females for egg implantation… so many girls present within the house provides the Xeno`s with an opportunity too good to miss for creating a new gene pool, thus perpetuating their species.
Grey Gables wins by killing the Aliens and having at least one resident alive by the end of the game.
There are no victim tokens, plot twists, or sub plot cards used in this game: plus, all the residents of Grey Gables are automatically classed as blooded for the duration of this game. Each side receives 2 actions per turn.
Matron Mother…. Veteran
Runaway…. Veteran (Alice)
Runaway…. Experienced (Dido)
Runaway…. Rookie (Martha)
Grid Alien…. (Unique/Limited Edition)
Long-Tail Alien…. Experienced
Set up. House on the left: the grounds on the right.
Turn 1 & 2: The Aliens win the die roll for order of turn. Both Aliens rush forward in a silent death hunt stance. As they approach the steps and main front doors of the house, they sniff the air and are rewarded by the fresh scent of many females… a female means a potential Queen for their stock to grow.
But the residents of Grey Gables are not slow to respond. They are used to dealing with unwelcome visitors… swiftly and surely.
Alice the red based Runaway and the Scarecrow move out of the house… but the second they see the incredible speed of the advancing Aliens, they realise there is no time to do anything other than take up defensive positions on the lower steps of the porch…. side by side.
Both sides are ready.
Turn 3 & 4: Both Aliens flip their cards to the side that includes the acid blood ability; perfect for close quarter fighting. Both the Grid and Long Tail Alien pommel into their enemy, making a frenzied first attack. The Grid Alien goes one on one against the Scarecrow… and throws two 6`s for his attack roll and achieves a critical hit (double damage). The Scarecrow throws for his dodge ability, but fails to make the roll needed to avoid taking damage. The monster takes 2 wounds.
The Long-Tail Alien inflicts 1 damage on the red based Runaway (Alice), which pushes her into an hourglass state for both her attacks and movement.
Alice activates rage, flips her card to the reverse side and transforms into a psychopathic killing machine. The Matron Mother is so very proud of her girls, and encourages them to use all their abilities.
Alice slashes at the Alien with an old rusty butcher’s blade, but her anger makes her swing too wildly, and she misses her target by miles.
Meanwhile, the Scarecrow swings with his scythe and inflicts 2 damage on the Grid Alien. The Alien`s acid blood splatters onto the Scarecrow, causing the scythe wielding monster to take another wound.
Turn 5 & 6: The Grid Alien amazingly throws a second critical hit, and inflicts 3 more damage on the Scarecrow. The un-natural monstrosity wavers… a single point from death.
The Long-Tail Alien throws just too low to hit – but the Grid Alien`s boss ability lifts the roll to a palpable hit. 3 damage goes onto Alice… the Alien punches its jaws right through the Runaways skull, killing her instantly.
With a scream of rage and impassioned grief, the Matron Mother rushes forward and engages the enemy… standing over Alice’s body in a protective stance, as though denying the Aliens any opportunity of hurting the child any further. She inflicts 2 points of damage on the Grid Alien… but gets splashed by its blood, and receives a wound herself.
Matron Mother replaces the fallen Runaway.
The Scarecrow goes on a spree on destruction, and inflicts 3 wounds on the Grid Alien… who incredibly remains standing and ready to fight.
Both Xeno`s are vulnerable, and may not strike back this go; so we proceed to the next turn.
Turn 7: Matron Mother places 3 wounds on the Long-Tail Alien…. maybe a bad move, as she could have killed the Grid Alien outright (with 2 turns of the dial), but instead she places all the damage on the Long Tail… a bold move perhaps?
The blue based Runaway (Dido) runs through the house to join and protect her beloved Matron Mother.
The Grid Alien snaps its jaws at the Scarecrow… and misses. Its wounds are obviously starting to tell on its stamina.
Long Tail fairs no better himself.
Turn 8 & 9: Scarecrow swings with his weapon, and cuts the head clean off the Grid Alien`s shoulders. The ensuing blood which leaks and spurts from the Xeno`s neck, also destroys the Scarecrow… which goes up in a sudden ball of flames.
Dido sees the prone figure of Alice, lying in a pool of her own blood… and leaps into the fight, but her initial wild slash fails to connect with the remaining Alien`s carapace like flesh.
The Alien claws at the Matron Mother, and is rewarded by seeing 3 damage points get carved into the woman’s flesh.
Turn 10 & 11: Matron Mother is now completely wild with rage, and pain, and puts another 3 damage onto the Long Tail… but receives an additional wound from its acid blood.
Martha flips her card and moves her base dial to the red starting point… then runs to join the fighting.
The Alien is in his vulnerable state again, and may not fight back this turn.
Turn 12: With a cry of passion, the Matron Mother swings a powerful attack at her enemy, and scores 4 damage points… and completely pulverises the Alien into a bloody heap on the ground.
Blood from the fallen Xeno inflicts its usual 1 damage on her, but the middle aged woman remains standing… proudly upright… she still has three good damage points left remaining on her dial.
Weyland`s team using infra red bio scanners and an all spectrum satellite surveillance system… located in a black van, several kilometres away are utterly amazed at the efficiency with which this strange perverted little family dispatched the deadly Aliens.
A quick call to a highly placed Weyland Industries official… a few more calls… even higher up the chain of command….. and the decision is made…. and the order is given not to exterminate the residents of Grey Gables House.
So the team is silently pulled out, and plans for a new operation are made ready. Plans that will see not only the Matron Mother and her girls become part of their overall picture, but anyone else involved with this little gang as well.
The potential for pitching these amazing people in the Pyramid Arena against species 019 is too good a chance to miss, and will please the Predator Promo Genitor so much, he might be persuaded to give up a few more technological delights for Weyland Industries to exploit upon an unsuspecting public.
The Matron Mother sobbed… cried her heart out… and sobbed some more. Her breast heaved and her nose ran….. she rang her hands and pulled at her hair in utter and abject self pitying distress and lonely despair.
She had loved Alice… in her own special way…. and now she was gone…. gone forever. The Scarecrow could be rebuilt… with time…. but not Alice…. not ever. Not the same as she was!
But the Matron Mother wasn`t stupid! Even amidst her grief, the logical part of her mind was analysing the previous encounter and wondering where those monsters had come from? Her calculating mind extrapolated the facts and concluded they had been sent there to kill them all… or capture them? Who and why eluded her… for the time being. She would have to speak to the Coven elders… but carefully, slowly… in case she was being watched. But she would get to the bottom of it… oh yes…. and when she did…. whoever was responsible for Alice`s death….
Next Time on ATDC: I take a Clix starter set (with the half dozen or so figures included in the box, along with rules, a map, and any tokens and cards included within) and create a game out of only those components.
Let me know what you fancy most watching being played: HorrorClix Starter Set - The Fantastic Four HeroClix Starter Set - Batman v Superman HeroClix Starter Set - Captain America (Avengers) HeroClix Starter Set - or the Thor Starter Set?
Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed this article.