Before we begin, let it be known that I’m more of a Marvel Comics guy than a DC Comics guy. More of a Captain America and Spider-Man fan, but also a fan of Batman.
WizKids is currently running a “Fan Vote” over on www.heroclix.com (although, something seems to be wrong with this last round of voting; not sure what’s going on), and one of the characters that’s made it into the final round of voting is an obscure and absurd villain named Killer Moth. He’s as yet “unclixed”.
He’s actually a fun character, depending who’s writing him. His debut in 1951, he was the “criminal underworld’s” answer to Batman. He ran his own kind of “protection racket” for criminal clients, engaged in robberies, and also his own kid of investigation of Batman. Like Batman, gadgets out the wazoo. Despite the garish “uniform”, his initial appearances kinda have him as a credible threat to our Dynamic Duo. Still, it was the 1950’s, and the stories could be very tongue-in-cheek and simple.
He’s gone through various costume changes. Nothing will top the color scheme of the outlandish original, and some of the better updates use the same basic patterns of the first appearance spliced with today’s current trend of trying to portray “realistic yet stylized uniforms” and not just spandex.
FYI: The guy under the mask now is not the original.
Why do I think he deserves a shot as a “Clixed character”?
- He’s another Batman rogue.
- Outlandish appearance.
- “Multiple starting lines”. Specifically, the kind where the figure is one, single point cost, but with two separate starting lines. One could just represent K.M. playable on its own; the other takes us down the “makes a deal with the demon Neron for more power and gets turned into a monster called Charaxes” via the Battlefield Promotion game mechanics.
- Minions! Specifically, his “Moth-Men”. Basically just armed lackeys in costumes. Wouldn’t be opposed to “split-dial/multiple starting lines” as well for them, so versions could be made at the same point cost, but have options for using it with or without any “Minion” special powers.
- Charaxes, as previously mentioned. Can always use insectoid monsters in the game.
- …… kinda “it”.
Two things have kept me buying HeroClix over the years (despite not having even so much as played a “solitaire scenario since late 2011): (1) WizKids constantly trying to refine and expand the game’s mechanics. Depending on you and your opponent, you can “scale” the difficulty of the game through character choices during team-building, point value of the team builds, and map selection. (2) Variety of the character selection. Sure, the “over abundance” of the “Marquee” superhero comics characters — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man — may be a “necessary marketing evil”, but so far it’s also helped the game live long enough to put out clix of these obscure and oddball characters. When WK Game Design is on-the-ball, some really fun and cool designs have come out of it. (Feeding back into reason #1.)
I do wonder how long WizKids and it’s consumers can keep going with the “blind product” model. I’m weary of the “booster lottery” and the “rarity scales” and such, myself. Adherence to that model may be resulting in the voluminous, rapid release of product, the quality issues (which “hurt” even more when you’ve had to “buy blind”), and the resulting frustration and “fatigue” on the consumer end. Just my opinion, no evidence of “fatigue”, just a hunch.
Of course, clearing up quality issues cost money and time, and slowing the release schedule might hurt revenues. At some point, the cost per figure is going to have to go up, and there’d better be a resulting improvement in quality and selection if WizKids hopes to keep getting buyers.
It sounds like, on the on side, things like the “Tournament Only” product like FEAR ITSELF have helped, At least that side of things. for certain gamers, attending Organized Play events and building their forces right at the event via “blind” purchases is the most exciting draw to the game.
On the other side…?
Can only speak for myself: Been hoping for a subscription service for my mobile device (smartphone) run by WizKids for quite some time. Something incredibly useful “alongside” the game, a set of tools. Say, $4.99 up front, $0.99 per month after that, charged to my phone bill. Access to continually updates rules, examples of play, clarifications, glossary, inventory management of my own collection, as well as view pieces I don’t have via a gallery.
Able to bring up individual entries on a piece, similar to some of the HC inventory apps already out there, but with greater utility. I bring up a character, I need to be able to not only see stats and power arrangement, I need to be able to tap the power of combat symbol and bring up the full description of those effects.
(Maybe a “Tournament Mode”, which would obscure views of the whole dial or just the stats, be verifiable by a tourney judge; WizKids needs to see the future on the effects of mobile devices used during play. Or, advances in tech and games that use them (*cough, cough* Golem Arcana *cough, cough*) may eat their lunch.)
Map information, or at least a line-of-fire tool that takes combat symbols into account as well as terrain effects. That’s worth something to me.
Meanwhile, back to Killer Moth.
If WizKids starts varying its selection of non-blind product, might be able to do something special with K.M., here. Imagine: 5-piece non-blind. Not map, no dice. Killer Moth, his “Charaxes” incarnation, and 3 “Moth-Men” minions. $20 retail? That translates to $4 per piece, for your consumer. If quality of both the physical piece and the design of the game effects is spot-on, it’d be worth it to me. And, again, as an individual aficionado of HeroClix, I like to have duplicates of what pieces I can get ahold of, and I’d buy two to make sure I have “spare dupes” of the “named” (specific) characters of Killer Moth and Charaxes. Bonus: I’d then have 6 “generic” Moth-Men “minions”. (And then, since each pack has 3 such Moth-Men, it becomes enticing to snag a third pack, in order to “pad out” a force. Trick is, WizKids, not “force” it on players. Solid design and quality help right along with character selection in “The Lure”, in separating willing consumers from their cash. Right now, buyers are starting to get the impression they’re on the receiving end of an “abusive relationship”. You are risking a “death spiral”. FYI.)