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I’ve been an avid fan of HeroClix for many years now, and I’ve been a judge since Marvel Critical Mass. For better or worse, a lot has changed since the old days of Infinity Challenge, so let’s just get right to it.
First introduced with Marvel Avengers and then DC Justice League, Special Powers are a great way to bring something different to the able and have some more comic-accurate figures. Personally I hate Special Powers. It totally breaks the spirit of HeroClix, which was originally designed as a game that didn’t need cards or separate pieces of paper to track. Even worse, every new set seems to introduce a dozen new FAQ pages because of it.
That being said, I would argue that we simply can’t get rid of Special Powers. That’s right, I hate them, but I think they should stay. The fact is that Special Powers have indeed made the game more interesting, and there are a lot of them that were made just right (JL Joker, JL Green Arrow, Avengers Winter Soldier, MM Danger). However, there is still just far too many of them out there (and many stinkers at that). I think the best solution is to cut back on the number of pieces that have Special Powers.
Think about this: each set is limited to 60 figures. By my count, there are 47 figures in the DC Crisis set with Special Powers. Forty-Seven! That’s absurd. If you really want to make Special Powers feel “special”, then cut it down to 25 figures; that’s a healthy 42% (compared to the 79% in DC Crisis). Honestly, do we need yet another figure that can use Perplex but only on its own combat values? Clearly the designers are handing out Special Powers “just because they can.”
I think some of the newer Giants rules are right on. It doesn’t make a lot of sense that you can now use Telekinesis on Giants, but that’s fine by me since it makes Giants far more useful. However, it’s still pretty hard to use a Giant-focused team successfully (without Trigon) because they are just so limited to what they can do well. After all, most of their strengths are also their greatest weaknesses. Giant Stride is a good start at making them cooler, but it’s silly that they can only taxi someone if they have zero action tokens.
So I propose this: all Giants should have the transporter ability (which comes with the Move and Attack ability). Why not? A Giant should be able to carry every turn if it wants to. The Move and Attack ability also makes a lot of sense to me; it should be able to walk past and slap you whenever it feels like it. It’s not unbalancing at all since that ability also carries a -2 penalty to the attack roll. In one fell swoop, Giants would become very cool in my opinion.
Much like Special Powers, Keywords simply break the concept of playing the game without the need for cards. It is a far bigger offender of this than Special Powers, because there are a number of game mechanics that forces you to look at many different cards during the game (Monster Hunter, Mutations and Monsters Professor X, etc). While I am not a fan of the theme team mechanic, I think that can stay. However, HeroClix really needs to do away with powers and abilities that forces you to look up Keywords (Warbound, Inside Information, Secret Invasion Mr Fantastic, etc). No, I take it back – the theme team mechanic needs to go too. I like Keywords as a way to add flavor to the game, but it should remain only that. Keywords should have no impact on game play at all.
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