Fighting Fire with F.U.N.: The Watch List

Posted on September 20, 2013

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Welcome back to an occasional series Heroclixin’ likes to call Fighting Fire with F.U.N. Here, we try to help players figure how not to have games ruined by overpowered mechanics.

But that’s been, well, sort of impossible lately. The kind of stuff that Heroclixin’ ranked last year in its Top Ten Torrid Things is junior league compared to the things on WizKids’ new Watch List:

  • HeroClix Team Bases’ Working Together ability
  • Spiral’s Dimensional Portal trait
  • The Heroes for Hire Additional Team Ability (ATA)
  • Utility Belt’s Prep Time special power
  • Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) ATA
  • GCPD Cruiser’s pilot ability
  • Bat-Mite’s “You’re My Hero” ability and “Let Me Help” special powers
  • Brother Voodoo’s “My Spirit Brother Possesses You” trait

WizKids has said that they’re willing to take action on these powers and mechanics from doing nothing to total banning. And for once, Heroclixin’ wouldn’t be completely against the latter, because there really aren’t many F.U.N. ways to deal with the above list.

Here’s Heroclixin’s take on each.

HeroClix Team Bases’ Working Together ability
When we saw a 600-point piece with the ability to KO 2004’s GALACTUS — the ubër-powerful version with Cosmic Multiattack and the most powerful single piece in the game to that point — in ONE TURN, Heroclixin’ knew some designer or designers or playtesters had completely lost their damn minds. That’s what the team bases’ Working Together ability does, and it’s terrible for the game. Simply put, no other piece or force can do what an equal-costed team base can.
There’s a lot about team bases that Heroclixin’ doesn’t like, but Working Together in particular needs a change. Heroclixin’ recommends A) that each successive attack gets a damage penalty, as with Duo Attack, and B) that only one close and one ranged attack be allowed, instead of the unlimited number of today. We’d also like to see the Asset dial have to spin each turn Working Together is used.

Spiral’s Dimensional Portal trait
Maps don’t matter to this chick who allows her teammates to cross it with her double power action. Heroclixin’ hopes this too-powerful trait gets swapped with her late-dial SP granting her Flurry-plus. — that ought to be a trait, since she never stops having six arms. But we’d settle for the Gateways being a two-way street perhaps, so that any pieces that survive her teammates’ alpha strike at least have a shot at retaliation.

The Heroes for Hire Additional Team Ability (ATA)
I really had hoped for a HFH ATA, but one that was more in the classic spirit of the professional hero agency. The current ability is too good, at least on a few of its more efficient members. Heroclixin’ would like to see the current ATA banned and then a new version released as something to enable its members to pick a “client” on the team, use Defend on it and both copy its team abilities and loan their printed team symbol(s) when adjacent.

Utility Belt’s Prep Time special power
Really, the whole Belt throws the game out of whack; it’s incredibly overpowered to be so cheap AND to have no counters in the game outside of fewer than five figures (10th Anniversary Catwoman, 10th Anniversary Iron Man and Fear Itself Iron Man — that’s IT). Prep Time is merely the aspect that’s most abused. Heroclixin’s solution would be to make all Resources’ effects vulnerable to Outwit — with no Line of Fire necessary when adjacent!

Gotham City Police Department (GCPD) ATA
Heroclixin’ isn’t so sure this one ought to be on the list by itself. But, like so much of the rest of the list, it’s how it works with OTHER effects that make it a problem. Our best solution is to limit it to characters below a certain point cost (namely, less than the GCPD Cruiser’s 68) while still requiring it to be put on higher-priced pieces per ATA rules. Stop crying — it’s only 2 points each.

GCPD Cruiser’s pilot abilities “Clear The Streets” and “Cuffed To The Bumper”
This vehicle topped Heroclixin’s list last year because of these effects. They really ought to be reined in to at least make the Cruiser more character accurate AND balanced. First, “CTTB” should shut off the Cruiser’s Improved Movement and Plasticity while keeping just the wording that prevents auto-breakaway from it; if it’s able to lockdown an enemy like that, it should be stationary itself. Second, “CTS” should cause the Cruiser 1 unavoidable damage for each fraction of 100 points of the chosen foe hit. When one can deal free damage to that degree, there ought be a price for doing so. Risk versus reward; it’s basic game design, and this GCPD Cruiser pilot ability COMPLETELY FAILS AT IT.

Bat-Mite’s “You’re My Hero” ability and “Let Me Help” special powers
Ah, another piece that, by itself, isn’t so bad but makes a lot of the rest of the list disgusting. Case in point is “Let Me Help!” which actually has some balances built-in — chance of damage, no more actions after the freebie — but doesn’t quite go far enough with them. Heroclixin’ would make Bat-Mite cause a 50% chance of harm instead of the current mere 15% and make the attack a non-free action instead of a free action. Moreover, to represent Bat-Mite’s tendency to be a pest, once he’s adjacent to his Idol he can’t make move actions and his Idol MUST use the Carry ability to cart him around unless Bat-Mite is moved or placed by another effect (TK, knockback, his Super Senses SP) — and the opponent gets to choose how Bat-Mite is placed after each Carry!

Brother Voodoo’s “My Spirit Brother Possesses You” trait
This is one that Heroclixin’ doesn’t truly think is a game problem to the degree of most of the others, but it does seem that this trait is very cheaply costed when one considers that Mind Control is among the most expensive of powers. IF a fix must be made, Heroclixin’ recommends it either only work when he’s given an action token the same turn, or he gets no bonuses for the ensuing Mind Control.

There’s a couple more that ought to make the Watch List:

Arwen’s “I Call On the Loudwater” epic action trait
No-roll-penetrating damage shouldn’t be a thing…not more than once per game, anyhow. Or from anywhere on the map. Heroclixin’s fix would be to either make it a once-per game effect or to limit it to her line of fire and like 6 range. After all, it was a feat she did only once and within short range in the movie!

Shatterstar’s “X-Portal” trait
While powerful, this trait is fairly balanced by only working with lower-cost figures and once per game. But it needs also to only work with single-base, standard-sized or smaller characters because of the vehicle rules loophole of higher-cost figures becoming pilots of cheap vehicles, then thus being carried by Shatterstar, then jumping out of said vehicle ready to rampage next turn.

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Those are Heroclixin’s hoped-for fixes, outside of more global changes like Incap being a built-in check on free actions or the aforementioned use of Outwit as the first real counter to Resources. What ideas do you have, readers?

Or, conversely, can you think of F.U.N. builds or tactics that mitigate the abuse of the items on the Watch List without using the items on the Watch List?

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