Saturday, October 13, 2007

You're Special to Me!

In our previous chats about Heroclix, we've explored some of the standard powers you might find on a figure's dial. But you may have heard about "special powers" that some figures have; what's that about?

For many characters, standard powers are all that's needed to represent fairly well what it is they can do. After all, there are 40 standard powers (and that's not counting stuff like flight, the aquatic ability, multiple targeting, and Team Abilities), and combining them with different combat values makes for lots of possibilities.

But for some characters, the standard powers seem too limiting or are just "off". In the sets it released this year, Wizkids (the makers of Heroclix) took a simple but huge step that allows them to represent such characters better: special powers.

Special powers basically do one of these things:
  1. Give a figure a modified form of an existing power.
  2. Allow a figure to have two or more powers that would otherwise be mutually exclusive.
  3. Grant a figure a unique gameplay mechanic.

  • Give a figure a modified form of an existing power.

Sometimes a standard power is kind of what a character does, but is too weak, too strong, or just needs tweaked. Special powers can get around that by granting a version of the standard power that’s modified by having different conditions. Take, for example, “Perplex”; that’s the standard power that allows a figure to modify any one of its combat values (speed, attack, defense, damage, or range) by 1, or to do the same to any figure it can see that’s within 10 squares. That’s a fairly broad power, and open to lots of modifiers that make it the basis for many special powers.

Saturn Girl, Aquaman, Batzarro, Lex Luthor, Parasite, Merlyn, Aztek, Power Ring-- all have special powers that are, in essence, modified versions of Perplex. Saturn Girl can alter combat value by 2 instead of 1; Aquaman can "perplex" the combat values of any and all visible aquatic characters at the same time; Batzarro can only alter combat values by -1; you get the idea!

Perplex is not the only standard power used as a basis for some special powers. For example,, some special powers are modified versions of Mastermind (Lex Luthor, Superman) and Probability Control (Hourman, Time Trapper, Chronos).

The appropriate reaction to such powers: "Okay, that makes sense. Pretty cool."

  • Allow a figure to have two or more powers that would otherwise be mutually exclusive.
For each type of combat value, a figure can only have one standard power at a time. For example, Barrier and Deflection are both powers that attach to Defense Values, so a figure can only have one of those powers at a time. That's a problem when you feel a character should be able to have recourse to either one. We talked about this when you were disturbed that a Green Lantern didn't have Willpower, because it clashed with another Defense power.

Special powers can get around this limitation very handily. Either they can specifically grant both powers (as when the special power "Vibration" gives Flash both Phasing and Hypersonic Speed, or when "Psychic Powers" lets Hector Hammond use either Psychic Blast or Telekinesis), or move one of the powers to a different Combat Value (Mento's special speed power, Mental Hold, grants him Incapacitate, which is ordinarily an attack value power). Other figures that have such special powers include Icicle (Mastermind and a Defense Special Power), Black Canary (Energy Explosion and Incapacitate), Parasite (Steal Energy and an Attack Special Power), John Fox (Charge and Flurry).

The appropriate reaction to such powers: "Well, of course. Finally!"

  • Grant a figure a unique mechanic that represents what they do better than the standard powers can.

For some characters, Wizkids pulls out all the stops are creates a power that allows them a special way of doing thing in the game. Deadman, instead of just having Mind Control, can take "Possession" of an opponent's figure, and refuse to give it up (although he takes Damage for doing so, or might get ejected by a bad die roll). With "Disruption", Phantom Girl can remove objects from the board because she's destroying them from the inside. With "Kltpzxym!", Mxyzptlk can "pop" around the board, but each time he does, he runs the risk of being returned to the starting area.

The most popular of these powers belongs (naturally) to Batman, who can leap "Out of the Shadows" from one spot of hindering terrain to another nearby and then hit someone with his fist (close combat) or a batarang (ranged combat). Other figures with such "extra special" powers included Parasite, Firestorm, Bouncing Boy, Doomsday, Captain Boomerang, and Granny Goodness.

The appropriate reaction to such powers: "Yes; THAT is what they do. That is so awesome!"

Special powers have made Heroclix feel much more "comic book-y" than before and, on the whole, comic book lovers who play the game consider them an enormous improvement on the game, one that's helped increase its popularity among people who do not traditionally play such games.

Although some players were concerned that the Special powers would be too complicating or too hard to remember, my friends and I have not found that to be the case, because special powers are either (1) slight modifications of standard power (2) combo versions of standard powers or (3) the kind of thing that we always wanted that character to do anyway.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I know about oysters!

This woman

should be required

to appear in at least one DC comic

every year.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Things That Made Me Happy...

in my comic this week.

  • Bone-saw Batman. Now, is that the perfect Halloween costume, or what?
  • If need be, Jonah Hex will punch you in the throat.
  • Chris's watch, which serves the same function as the kryptonite-laden belt buckles of Clark and Lois's imaginary children.
  • Supernova is going to make a great Heroclix figure!
  • Panda Dio.
  • "Watch your language, Wally."
  • The Extremists are from Earth-8? I guess they would be, since that's where Things From the '90s get banished to.
  • Frankie Laine and Ennio Morricone, for those of you who are wondering.
  • Niecy Nash and the Clean House Gang really need to talk to Black Canary about her garage. Too much mayhem and foolishness in there.
  • Hal Jordan was ... a poodle? How perfect.
  • I disagree with Brother Eye; I'd rather spend the rest of my life without Karate Kid.
  • Demon-possessed Jonah Hex.
  • I guess it's safe to assume that that's Guy's lantern... .
  • Rip Hunter gets rear-ended.
  • I'm not sure which would be cleverer: if Red Herring turns out to the bad guy or if he doesn't.
  • Hal Jordan leaving Kyle Rayner naked and covered in sticky goo.
  • They really don't make bridges very sturdy in the DCU, do they?
  • Hercules working at Sundoller.
  • For those who are wondering, the giant bowling pins are from one of the three deathtraps that Checkmate Jones once trapped Batman in posthumously, having contracted radiation poisoning ("The Doors That Hid Disaster", Detective No. 238, Dec. 1956).
  • "Rabid" Magazine.
  • Love Wonder Girl's new costume!
  • When bullets won't work, sometimes you just have to punch a lady in the face.
  • Hey; Connor Hawke IS half-Asian!
  • Good lord, the Rubberduck clix would have Incapacitate... .
  • Okay, DC, the scene on page 8 of Countdown is positively crying out to be re-dialogued as youth-porn.
  • "Best in Show."
  • Batman does not believe in what does not make sense.
  • The Jokester's final bow. Truly, a class act.
  • As I've said before, always good to see Fox and Crow.
  • Jonah Hex man-crushing on Booster Gold.
The following wasn't in my comics, but it did make me happy. It's Lance the Blogger, who always makes me laugh, on a local health show. The part where Lance tries to describe the only two things you should do it bed is ADORABLE.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Face it, Tiger...!"

I'll probably post again later today (a bit busy, you know), but for now please listen to the latest


wherein we discuss Blue Beetle and Iron Fist, Firelord orders pizza, and Blockade Boy does MJ Watson.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Yesterday at Big Monkey, we had the third of the five legs of the Starro tournament series. Starro; five legs. I love that.

Anyway, there were sixteen players and Rambo took pictures of some of them so that I could "convert" them into goon pogs.

The Punk Kid is Big Mike Pellegrino, who beat me today by 8 points. Not that I'm bitter, mind you. I only picked him for the Punk Kid because of his baby face and his pose. Not because he beat me. By 8 points. Which is four times what his pog is now worth.

The weaselly Gunsel is, of course, Dr. Ben Hatton, host of the Big Monkey Podcast. Note the Stealth (the dial's based on the superstitious and cowardly Joe Chill).

Can't you just picture Ben, cowering behind potted plants, with a little pearl-handed
22 in his trembling hands? Ah, well; the customers have gotten used to it... .

The Scrapper is that pugnacious Irishman, Jon Carey, who writes (and spends his Friday nights) Facedown in the Gutters.

Note that John has Leap/Climb so he can run away from whomever he insulted most recently on the Big Monkey Podcast. Or when someone whom I insulted decides to attack Jon instead.

If you think Chris Peleo-Lazar, the Enforcer, looks mobbed up, that's because he is. His roommate sells cement overshoes for a living, if you catch my drift.

The Hoodlum is supposedly Joe Kroc, but I've always suspected that's some sort of anagramatic assumed named, forced on him after he turned State's Evidence.

Gabe is the smooth Con Man (whose stats I borrowed from Space Phantom). His glib tongue can convince you not to attack him (Shape Change) and his fast-talking can keep you fixated on him (Elasticity).

PJ Rusk is the Accomplice, sinking deeper and deeper in the depravity of underground heroclix clubs. I find it so sad. Profitable, but sad.

Steve is the Bruiser, and bruise me he did during our first game yesterday. But I would have won, if the judge had let me cheat. Darn it. That's okay. Now the judge doesn't get a pog. But I'm not bitter.

The Tough Guy, with the Toughness to go with the title, is none other than Jonnie Hex of Jon Hex Lives and the Big Monkey Podcast. Jonnie always looks as if he's about to shank you or buy you a Courvoisier; nothing in between.

The Innocent Dupe is Mick, a.k.a. Superman's Pal. But in that picture, he looks like just the kind of person a deformed psychopath could convince to help break into the Gotham Gold Depository.

And Yonaton plays the role of Fodder, those indispensably dispensable goons you throw at Batman and Robin while you make good your escape. Have you noticed that Fodder are always male? Do they have female counterparts who work for supervillainesses, and are they called Mudder?

In case you didn't recognize him in the cap, Judo Guy is our local judo student, Brandon Hallmark III. When your name is Brandon Hallmark III, I guess you kind of have to study judo just to stay alive.

Judo Kid is actually "Judo" Kiet. Like Judo Guy, he's got Combat Reflexes, so if you're going to try to hit him, better do so from a distance.

Of course, the worst goon of all -- almost a full-fledged villain in his own right-- is the devious, insidious Pusher.

He acts swiftly to get you hooked on plastic crack. He knows he's got Willpower, but you don't... .

"Sure, kid; you can have a booster. The first one's free...!"