Friday, April 17, 2009

Reviewing collectible games from a wargamer's perspective: Heroclix

One of the more successful collectible miniatures games, Heroclix was going quite strong, with dozens of expansion sets and more than a thousand figures when Wizkids suddenly plled the plug in late 2008.

There are efforts afoot to resurrect the game line under a different publisher, but what will emerge from that effort, if anything, and how compatible it will be with older stuff is impossible to say. It may or may not be a dead game.

Heroclix is a superhero-themed skirmish level wargame. Each figure generally represents a super being, although there are a few that represent a pair such as Batman and Robin and there are some minor characters that are represented by cardboard tokens. Locally they were called "POGS" because they resembled those toys, but I don't know how widespread that was.

The key feature of the game is the patented dialable plastic base on each figure. As the figure takes hits from damage the dial is "clicked" to show new values which often include new or different superpowers. It's a neat idea and it fits the superhero theme well, although attempts to port it to other genres such as mecha, Halo, horror, fantasy and sports have had mixed success.

Because it's about comic-book style combat between super beings, tactics definitely take second place to interactions between powers and the metagame of selecting figures.

Being a collectible game it also suffers from the generally unsettled rules common to that sort of game and the problem of deep-pocketed players having access to better figures.

All-in-all I don't think there's much to interest wargamers in this line, unless they also have a strong interest in comic books.

1 comment:

  1. I fall into your category of being a wargamer and a comic fan; I agree that the game wouldn't appeal to non-comic fans. One thing, though, is that even though someone with unlimited funds could certainly have a huge quantity of figures at his/her disposal, because of the point total builds, it wouldn't give them an advantage. Super-powerful figures often go unused, because they take such a huge portion of build totals, and even when they do get used, there is enough balance in the game that they are not a sure-fire win--think of one Tiger tank against half a dozen Shermans. Your blog is dead-on about the fiddly rules, though. I've seen guys argue like lawyers over the meaning of "and" in a game context. When Wizkids was still maintaining the game website, they did a pretty good job of correcting ambiguities, so there is plenty of errata and clarifications out there.