Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Threat of theTwo-Headed Pog!

Ask 50 Heroclix players what they think the most exciting piece is in the new Heroclix set, Crisis, is and you might get 50 different answers. Fans of the New Teen Titans will be excited by the Fearsome Five or Trigon; the Metal Men will tickle the fancy of Silver Age buffs; Batman's large following might focus on new versions of Nightwing, Batgirl, and Robin.

But, I think there should be no argument about what the most exciting piece is in the new set: it's Congo Bill.

First off, well... it's Congo Bill, people. He's one of our guest columnists here at the Absorbascon, and we love Congo Bill, so much so that I actually designed my own custom Congo Bill token (assuming that Wizkids never would!). But it's more than that... .

Sure, it's cool to have a pog that represents such an obscure and bizarre character, a jungle explorer who can swap bodies with a golden gorilla. Plus, the crazy mechanic for showing the body swap is loads of fun! But the real excitement lies in Wizkids' introduction of the first two-sided character token (which, we'll just call "pogs" from here out, just for convenience's sake).

Many people don't like "cardboard" in the game, and I understand that. But as long as it is part of the game, I want it to enhance my gameplay by allowing the standard, 3D figures to better represent the comic book characters they're supposed to.

But pogs haven't done that. In some ways, they'd done the opposite. Unless your interest in Heroclix in purely in the mechanics of the game and you have no feeling at all for its comic book theme, you should cringe to see Superman using Lian Harper as a "meat shield". Surely this isn't what Wizkids originally intended with pogs. Of course, it's not the only time Wizkids has introduced a mechanic that had unintended results...!

Their low-point cost and one-click lifespans make pogs ideal as "mobile terrain" for protecting more valuable combatants. Unfortunately, that's thematically at odds with using them to represent innocent bystanders and the loved ones of heroes.

They would, however, be thematically perfect to represent certain kinds of generics. This is particularly true for villains, who are supposed to use lesser teammates and goons as meat shields!

Generics have pretty much disappeared from the game as the valuable slots in sets are being used to represent as many named characters as possible. I think we all do appreciate that we're getting so many named characters in our sets; still, I think a few properly chosen generics could really help spice up the game and add to its "comic book feel".

That's why Congo Bill offers such exciting possibilities for other two-sided pogs, particularly in the next planned DC set, Rogues Gallery. Wizkids! Please make ALL pogs two-sided from now on!

There are several ways WK could continue to use two-sided pogs in the Rogues Gallery set to bring interesting generics to the game.

First is the simple "reversible pog" with one generic on on one side and a totally different one on the other side. This is an opportunity to give us two pogs for the price of one. A "Cop/Criminal", for example, would be welcome for those Gotham City games! Villains need goons to back them up (or, more commonly, stand in front as cannon fodder). Why not give us a two-sided pog with a low-tech goon on one side and a high-tech foot-soldier on the other? That way, both the Jokers and the Luthors of the world will have the lackeys they need.

Second is the "two-click" pog, that starts on "Side A" but gets turned to "Side B" when the character takes a click of damage. Such a pog could be used to represent a villainous goon, the type of character who's sturdier than a regular bystander but not in the same league as the 3D characters. "Side A" might be wearing armor, thus meriting Toughness, which is "destroyed" when damage flips the pog to its "Side B". It could even be used to achieve effects that a regular dial couldn't (as the Congo Bill pog does). For example, "Side A" might represent an armed criminal, who has a ranged attack; "Side B" might be unarmed with a range of zero. A lower-point figure on your team would then be useful for "disarming" and picking off such pogs, freeing up your major combatants for more important battles.

Third is the "transformative" pog, which shows a character changing into something else. The Congo Bill pog is a perfect example, but others are possible. Why shouldn't a mad scientist have a robot pog available, which, upon being kayoed, flips over to become a heavy object or even an immobile bomb that has Pulse Wave or Quake? Green Lanterns might be able to use "living construct" pogs, that flip over to become barrier or rubble tokens. I can imagine a Woozy Winks pog, that can't be kayoed (since being unharmable was Woozy's magical power), but simply flips back and forth between its two different sides until Plastic Man leaves the board. Why, you could make a whole slew of transformative pogs for Jimmy Olsen alone!

The new Rogues Gallery set is bound to give us new and improved of many traditional villains. Wizkids, forget the Feat Cards and Battlefield Conditions for a set, and fill it with some "specialty" pogs to complement those bad guys (and others). Attack plants for Poison Ivy. Mind slaves for the Mad Hatter (and other Mind Controllers). With some clever thought put into it, a two-sided pog could even be used to represent Two-Face's coin. Heck, pogs could provide finny friends for Aquaman, avian pals for Hawkman, bats for You Know Who, tigers for all the feline characters, and gorillas for, well, just about anybody.

What would you like to see done creatively with such pogs in Heroclix?


Anonymous said...

The transformative pogs have a lot of potential, 'tis true!

*Mal Duncan as Guardian/Hornblower
*Signalman/Blue Bowman
*Lana Lang/Insect Queen
*Commissioner Gordon/Mysteryman
*Princess Projectra/Sensor Girl
*Joker's Daughter/Harlequin

Derek said...

"With some clever thought put into it, a two-sided pog could even be used to represent Two-Face's coin."

You mean, like, if the scratched side is up, Two-Face has evil powers like Mastermind or Exploit Weakness, but when the clean side is up, he has good powers like Defend and Support (respectively)?

Scipio said...

Yes, Derek. Something like that.

Or, something like, when the coin is on the good side, Two-Face cannot attacked or be attacked by any opponents. This would make him useful as a shield and allow him to "infiltrate" behind enemy lines.

Anonymous said...

The Two-Face coin is a good idea. I'm guessing a new Two-Face is coming soon, and I wouldn't mind seeing him alternate between the Batman Ally and Batman Enemy TAs, plus switch between being more offensive (higher attack, flurry )and defensive (outwit, perplex, mastermind).

Another pog idea (although an event dial would also be needed) is a "Rain of the Supermen" from 52 scenario. Normal on one side, superpowered on the other. Each turn, a play can move a pog, or flip it, but it's one of their actions. Once the clock hits midnight on the event dial, any superpowered pogs are eliminated and any adjacent figures are dealt one damage.

Jack Norris said...

All pogs are evil and must be destroyed.
I realize that these are actually used for play in a proper game (unlike the pseudo-"game" of regular pogs), but they still need to dispense with the title "pog" in order to exempt them from being furnace-food in my book.

Derek said...


I just started playing Heroclix about a year ago, long after pogs were an established part of the game.

Is this really a Thing with long-time players?

Anonymous said...

Marlon Perkins dude
Flip the pog and he becomes
A golden ape. Cool.

(I'm getting addicted to haikuing)