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Norman "nbperp" Barth was selected as the new HeroClix Rules Arbitrator, and remained so until HeroClix went into hiatus in late 2008. This is Part II of our interview with Norman Barth, the HeroClix Rules Arbitrator. Part I can be Found here.
The Le: You've obviously been in the HeroClix world for a while now (no pun intended). Are there any rules in HeroClix you think needs fixing / tweaking?
Norman: It depends on what you mean by "fixing/tweaking". It also depends on whether you mean fundamental core rules or if you mean rulings. I think there is a fairly strait-forward intent for how the game should be played. I also think that the process of putting an idea into words exposes the idea to exploitation. This is true for any rule-set whether it is a game or a body of law for governing. People try to use loop holes to do things that the original author(s) had not intended. Changing wording so that the idea is better "protected' from exploitation is something that I think would benefit the Heroclix ruleset in many areas. But I don't know if you call that a "fix" or a "tweak" or something else entirely.
Now, when special powers came around, and the minutiae of questions ratcheted up to a very high degree, I think that the official answer was often to play the card as it was and allow it to serve as a lesson for going forward. Perfect example, Moon Knight's special power that forces him to take a click after he uses Perplex (which would cause the effect of Perplex to vanish). There are other rulings that, given carte blanche, I would probably change. But here's the thing that everyone needs to keep in mind if such changes were to happen (whether by me or anyone else) - no one is ever going to get it perfect. And as good a job that you do on making the best ruleset you can, a subsequent set with new mechanics is likely to throw a wrench in the works. Perfect example - the early feats that refer to "pushing damage that ignores willpower and team abilities". Once "unavoidable damage" was created, the term was no longer necessary. Worse, the door was open that other mechanics that were not powers or team abilities may have come along that would defer/redirect pushing damage - which wasn't the intent when the card was written. But at the TIME it was written, there were no issues with the phrasing.
The Le: Are you reading any comics books these days?
Norman: Mostly I read Trade Paperbacks. It takes something very unusual - like the Oron Scott Card Ender adaptations - to get me willing to put that much money down for a 15 minute read. But I try to read as many TPBs as I can. I'll almost always gravitate towards Ultimate titles, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Titans, Justice League/Society. But I enjoyed the heck out of Y The Last Man, Fables, and Buffy stuff.
The Le: I've enjoyed the Ultimates stuff quite a bit too, except the Ultimatum -- The writer (and Marvel) clearly have no respect for their established universe. I know some fanboys were excited by the sheer mindless deaths, but that's no way to treat your fans. I was also especially miffed when Bendis blindly killed Gwen Stacey in Ultimate Spider-man for no real reason. Do you have any favorite / least favorite moments in the comics you've read?
Norman: I'll always have fond memories of the New Teen Titans (by Wolfman and Perez). It was the first comic series that I hunted down all the back issues for when I first started collecting comics and soon after that, they got bumped up to the Baxter series (a new format that DC moved to in the mid 80s). I loved the stories, the interactions, the characters, etc.
I don't have any particular stories or comics that I hate. If I read something that I didn't like, I would simply stop reading it and move on. Every comic is loved by somebody, and I try to respect that. That said, storylines that I didn't particularly enjoy include the Electric Superman storyline and the way Marvel has reset the Spider-Man world by undoing the MJ marriage. Both of those are excellent examples of things that could have been a wonderful story. If Superman Blue/Red had been a 1 or 3 month thing, ok. But they stretched that thing out over a year - it was painful. And the MJ reboot thing could also have been good for a 3 month stint, a picture of "what could have been". But the story should have had an ending in mind.
The Le: What HeroClix figures would you like to see in the future (that haven't been made yet)? I would personally would love to see Storm Watch or the Savage Dragon.
Norman: I'll agree to wanting to see a Savage Dragon figure. Given carte-blanche to design a set for my own purposes (and not geared toward marketing broadly at all) I would want to see a set with the Young All Stars in it. The closest we got to any of those figs was Fury back in Cosmic Justice, but honestly, that was NOT Hippolyta Trevor, sorry.
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