HeroClix Tinkering: Close Combat Expert & Ranged Combat Expert (v1.1)


Was ruminating a bit last night bout two completely different games: WizKids’ HeroClix (a tactical/startegy game using miniatures with a “combat dial” system; my favorite themes involve the superhero genre, particularly the Marvel Comics and DC Comics brands) and D#’s “Marvel Puzzle Quest” (the version I play is a mobile app-based “Match 3” puzzle game, with “role-playing game” inflections using characters from Marvel Comics).

Was marveling (ha-ha) at how D3 is able to revise/update characters. Characters like thier version of Doctor Octopus, for example: There’s a “story event” coming up that involves him, so I took some time to re-read his character’s powers. I’ve had the character in my inventory, but have only used him when required to do so. He’s one of those characters who’ve been continually revised by D3, and now appears to be much more useful than when I first added him to my “collection”.

This invariably got me thinking about HeroClix, how the game ages, how vital continued stream-lining, additions, and other refinements are so necessary. (It also prompted me to look up a certain competing game called “Golem Arcana”, seen here — http://golemarcana.com/. Check it out. I’m not buying into it, but it’s got some cool stuff that could be applied to HeroClix via mobile-based apps.)

WizKids Game Design Team has done a great job over the years refining/reengineering the system. It shows up in changes to the “Core” rules and the Powers & Abilities Card, plus supplemental documentation. It also shows up in the figure design, which is where I get annoyed. I hate it that stuff I spent good, hard-earned money on is near-useless in the modern game.

And it’s mainly centered on the statistical values representing Speed, Attack, Defense, Damage, and to a much lesser extent, Range. A lot of the initial designs have very low stats, and the progression of the stats down the dial for the inaugural sets meant stats values dropped rapidly. There was also the “psychology” of low numbers. And trying to figure out “what’s it all mean, really?!”

Over the years at least, stats over the length of the dial have “steadied”. Dial lengths have shortened, though. And, I assume< some of the common stat combinations are influenced by an almost “pen-&-paper RPG”-like attempt at discerning “What’s *normal*?” Speaking just to Attack and Defense values, 8/16, 8/17, and 9/17 are in the “average healthy human with some combat training or experience” range. Going higher, you progress through “exceptionally skilled”, through “peak human”, and then into the various levels of “superhuman”.

IMHO, anyway. YMMV. Still not sure what the “normal/baseline” should be for Speed or Damage.

“So, what in the heck does this have to do with your thread title, GZ?” Well, the “stat modification” game effects. I like to routinely go back through the PAC, think about efficacy, simplicity, and applicability. How the game can continually be advanced with changes to the “basic” or “core” powers and abilities. Trick is making the changes make sense. They have to “scale” well, to the type of characters and the types of powers they represent.

Been considering a lot lately, as a fan of the game and an amateur “designer” [NOTE: I’m not a game designer; just a schmuck on the sideline]. Some players think every standard power should have both a “passive” effect and an “active” effect (that requires declaring some sort of action). I used to think that, but am no longer sure *every* standard power should have such.

So, let’s get into Ranged Combat Expert [RCE] and Close Combat Expert [CCE]. I only bring up Perplex for the “baseline” its effects have helped to set. Feel free to try these “homemade tinkers” to your home games, see if they seem balanced. —

RANGED COMBAT EXPERT Give this character a power action. It makes a ranged combat attack against a single target character; before making the attack, you may modify any one of the following combat values by +2, or any two combat values by +1: Attack, Damage, Range. Instead, give this character a double power action. The above targeting restrictions apply, but the character may modify any two combat values by +2; the character then modifies its defense value by -2 until your next turn.

INTENT: The character is off to the side, focused on the target. This attack is “specialized”. The character gives no thought to close threats, and may accidentally make itself vulnerable.

CLOSE COMBAT EXPERT Give this character a power action. It makes a close combat attack against a single opposing target character; before making the attack you may modify any one of the following combat values by +2, or any two combat values by +1: Attack, Defense (effect lasts until the beginning of your next turn), Damage.

INTENT: The character is pushing its melee expertise to its limit, hoping to either stay in the fight as long as he/she/it can (the “passive” Defense effect), or putting the opponent down quickly.

[For Reference: PERPLEX Give this character a free action to modify by +1 or –1 any combat value of a target character until the beginning of your next turn. A character using this power must be within range (minimum range 6) and line of fire to the target. If a target character is damaged or healed, the effect of Perplex on that character ends immediately.]

What do you think?

Brewing similar stuff up for Phasing/Teleport, Stealth, Energy Shield/Deflection, etc.

EDIT (2015-09-27): Looks like I didn’t make one of the points I was trying to make. Allow me to try again.

I’ll try by way of analogy: Consider the HeroClix “figure” to be the “hardware.” Consider the Core Rules as the “operating” system. The Character Card for the figure as an “app”…?

Once a figure is “published”, it’s what we deal with. Updating Character Cards — or creating Cards for previously uncarded characters — can help older figures retain play value.