Make Marvel Mini: Marvel HeroClix
The Collectable Miniatures Game
Like WizKids' prior Mage Knight game, the basis for HeroClix is a set of collectable miniature figures used to play the game. The figures are collectable outside the game for their sculpting and the vast number of characters they represent. The HeroClix game follows the same basic distribution and conventions as Mage Knight.
There are a total of 150 characters in the game, but many are different versions of the same character using the same sculpt. Most of the characters are available in three experience levels - rookie, experienced and veteran. The more experienced the character, the more powerful he is and also the more rare is that particular figure compared with its weaker versions. There are 46 sculpts that each have three experience levels in the game, and the experience levels are denoted by the color of the ring around the figures base. Yellow is a rookie figure, blue denotes experienced, and the veteran characters have a red ring.
There are also 12 unique figures, which are much more powerful and also harder to find. These twelve figures have unique sculpts that differ from the other figures and they have a silver ring to denote they are unique. The uniques are the most rare figures in the set.
Print out a list of the figures available for the Marvel HeroClix Infinity Challenge Game - these are the figures that are available in the starter and booster sets and are packaged randomly.
See a gallery of the 12 pieces RTM obtained from one starter set and one booster pack. Again, these are packaged randomly, but will give you an idea of the mix of characters which can be found in the packs. (Be sure to check the official site for images of all the characters.)
How the Pieces Are Sold
HeroClix (and other collectable miniature games like Mage Knight) are sold in several different packages to suit the needs of the gamer and that follow the same pattern as CCG's. Each line has a 'starter set' that includes extra pieces and the rules for that particular game or expansion set. Beyond the starters are 'booster packs' which just have randomly inserted pieces for the game, similar to the way sports cards are distributed.
Players will usually only need one starter set to get the rules, then they can supplement their pieces through the boosters and by trading with other players. The starter sets will have eight character pieces in them and will retail for about $19.95 USD. The booster packs will have four character pieces in them and will retail for around $6.95 USD. The starter sets also include the rules, a "powers and abilities" card for reference, the playmat (outdoor map on one side, indoor map on the other - the indoor map is a shopping mall and the outdoor map is a street corner), two six-sided die, six tokens, six two-sided terrain markers, and a strip of blank stickers. The stickers are for the bottoms of the pieces, so that you can more easily sort out the pieces at the end of play.
Playing the Game
With the addition of the playmat, HeroClix is easier to play than Mage Knight - more like a board game. However, the key feature of Mage Knight is retained for HeroClix: the combat dial. Built into the base, the combat dial keeps track of damage that the piece has taken. The combat dial eliminates the need for charts and tables and does the work for the player as it is turned, making the game very accessible. Additionally, the base has the character's information right on it, including point value and so forth.
Some of the characters in the Marvel Universe can fly, and these characters are attached to their bases with a clear post so that they appear to be hovering above the regular pieces. The post has a flight-level indicator on it, to allow for two levels of flight.
flying platform/flight base
To begin a game, each player assembles a team of characters whose point values add up to an agreed amount. (100 is a good total to begin with.) Players roll the dice to determine who picks which map to play on, and the next player gets to choose where on the map they would like to set up their characters. (The rule book includes several scenarios to play out, making this far more interesting than a regular board game, in which the scenario is always the same.)
Tokens are then placed in clear areas of the map - these tokens represent things such as dumpsters and engine blocks, things which the characters can "throw" at each other, just like in the comics.
One the map is set up, play begins in turns. Each turn can consist of one or more actions. There are four actions: move a character, make a ranged combat attack, make a close combat attack, or pass. Moving a character is determined by the "current speed value" on its base: if that value is ten, then the character can move up to ten spaces in one action. (In Mage Knight, there are no spaces - movement is measured in inches and requires a ruler. For flying characters, a change in their flight level eats up one of their speed value points. So while HeroClix is easier to play than Mage Knight, there are still many nuances to learn.)
The success of an attack is determined by rolling the dice and comparing the result to the "defense value" on the target character. The map makes things interesting here in that an attacked character can suffer a "knockback" and take even more damage from hitting part of the scenery on the map. "Knockback" is when a character is thrown backwards by punch or other impact, and may hit another object or just be moved away. Characters are also able to pick up objects and use them as weapons against other characters. For the initial release there are object tokens that represent objects, but there will be accessory packs released later that will have physical miniatures that can be used.
Of course, this is a greatly simplified explanation of the gameplay; there are many more details which will appeal to comics fans, such as in which circumstances a hovering character may be attacked. Another neat detail is the arch-enemies concept: a character cannot be on the same team as his or her arch-enemy. A character and their arch-enemy have the same color base, so that their relationship is easy to spot. For example, Spider-Man and Hobgoblin are arch-enemies and are both on red bases.
While simply moving and attacking each other may sound dull, the powers and abilities are what makes the game more interesting and opens up new avenues for the players. As the dial is turned some of the stats will have a color around the number, and this corresponds to a special power or ability that can be used by the character. This allows the use of a wide range of the powers seen in the comics and causes the player to have to think on his feet to use whatever may turn up to best advantage. Something else that adds flavor are the special powers that arise from group affiliations. If the character is an Avenger, or Master of Evil, then he or she can gain bonus abilities related to that group. Both powers and group powers add subtle nuances to the game to keep every game playing out differently.
Game play ends when the predetermined time limit is up (the rules suggest 50 minutes), or when one player has been eliminated from the game.
To learn more about how the game plays, check the "How to Play" section of the official site, which includes the rules, "quick start" rules, an explanation of the combat dial system, and more.
The Future of the Line
The Marvel HeroClix starter and booster are just the start of a plethora of products that are slated for later release this year. In June 2002, the 'Premier Edition' of Marvel HeroClix will be released. It won't have random figures, but will come with a standard ten figures: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Elektra, Wolfsbane, Wasp, Hobgoblin, Sabretooth, Boomerang, Scarlet Witch and the Kingpin. The game also includes an extra fold-out map and extra tokens, and will contain all the rules needed to play the game. The suggested retail price is around $30 for this set.
Also in June 2002 a mutant hunting Sentinel will be available to harass the other figures. The Sentinel will be 6 5/8" tall and will have two sets of hands - one clenched and the other open so it can hold (and carry around) some of the other figures. The Sentinel will be sold alone for around $16.
In August 2002 there will be two accessory packs released to add props for the various battles in the game. The props aren't going to be specific to either the Marvel or DC HeroClix games and will have generic objects like soda machines, a computer, a dumpster and some crates. The packs are divided into an indoor and an outdoor set, with accessories that are appropriate for each environment. They'll give your characters things to climb on and throw at each other, and will also contain some extra scenarios for the game.
An expansion set for Marvel has been tentatively planned for October, but no details are available as yet. The DC HeroClix game will be launched in September, and will feature figures similar to those for Marvel but highlighting the various characters in the DC Universe.