Top Ten Barrier specialists: introduction

Posted on September 2, 2011

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It’s the turn of the month, so it’s time for another Top Ten list from Heroclixin’. This time we’re looking at Barrier.

It’s one of those supporting-actor powers in Heroclix. Sexy marquee powers like Hypersonic Speed and Psychic Blast or Probability Control get all the paparazzi attention. But once in a while you see this background player step up and steal a scene right out from under those headliners. And sometimes, the right vehicle can make it a star in its own right. Anyone who’s ever been stymied by a double-Barrier team knows this.

What makes Barrier great?

  • It’s the supreme defensive power. Impervious may reduce damage to zero sometimes, but Barrier reduces it to zero all the time by preventing the attack in the first place. It also cuts off enemy lines of fire for support powers.
  • It’s flexible. Barrier only needs Line of Fire to its first square, allowing for some truly unexpected uses.
  • It’s “Construct”ible. The Feat card CONSTRUCT is a great boost to an already solid power, increasing its effectiveness especially against flying enemies outdoors in range by forcing them to breakaway from the barrier.

What’s not so great about it?

  • It’s a defense slot power that doesn’t help its owner when targeted…at ALL. A character with Barrier will take all the damage when hit unless you add cost by using the FORCE FIELD feat.
  • It’s really just a stalling technique. The best defense is good offense. Barrier is not offense at all, and thus is rather second-rate.
  • It’s restricted to clear terrain. You can’t place a barrier token on hindering terrain, so it’s sometimes difficult to build as airtight a defense as you would like.

Because of these weaknesses, you really want to get the most out of a character with the power. So…

What makes a great Barrier figure?

  1. A range of 8 or greater. Because a Barrier figure lacks damage reducers (barring any feats granting such), it is best kept well out of the fray; a range of 6 or less puts the Barrier fig within most characters’ Charge zone. This means that for its power to be of maximum use to the team, it needs to have a long range. More range also increases the power’s flexibility.
  2. Two or more starting consecutive clicks of the power. Simply put, the optimal Barrier figure has to be able to push to use the power, if necessary, since it’s not always advantageous to build in multiple-Barrier teams. And while many figs with Barrier have many late clicks of it, that is of little strategic use as those figs are also usually near KO and it may be better to push and run them away than to push and make walls.
  3. Ability to serve a secondary or supporting role. Yes, a good Barrier figure can be able to fight. But if it’s the main attacker, then the Barrier power is mostly wasted. Your first-stringer should be dealing damage, not trying to prevent it with barriers. The flip side is that Barrier is not always needed. So what does the figure offer besides wall-building? (This is another reason why long range is necessary.)
  4. Affordability. A secondary/supporting figure like this should not top 100 points. Preferably it would be far cheaper.
  5. Life after Barrier. Say you exhaust every click of the power to hold off that tentpole fig with the Meteorite on the other team. What can this figure do now? If the answer is pretty much, “nothing else but die,” it doesn’t belong on the list.

Be here Monday to see the #10 and #9 best Barrier specialists in the game!

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